MP joins fight against ConDem ‘Gagging’ Bill
Pictured: Ivan Lewis MP with local campaigners fighting against the ConDem Government’s draconian ‘Gagging Law’
Local communtiy campaigners met with Ivan Lewis MP to discuss the Government’s proposed new “Gagging Law” and hand him a petition calling for it to be scrapped.
The gagging law is part of a proposed new piece of legislation called the “Transparency of Lobbying, NonParty Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill”. This Bill also contains measures to regulate lobbyists and measures relating to trade unions.
The part known as the “gagging law” is Part 2, on “nonparty campaigning”.
By “nonparty campaigning” the government means campaigning carried out by groups that aren’t political parties – like a charity or a community group.
What the gagging law will in effect seek to do is stop charities or communtiy groups campaigning on the issues of the day in the year of an election which will severely limit the freedom of non-political parties to have a voice.
The new rules would mean that anything a Charity or Community Group did that could enhance or diminish the standing of a party or candidate, within a year of an election, would be prohibited whether or not it was the intention to influence the result of the election. The Government is trying to stop these groups from what it calls “electioneering”.
So, if a campaigning organisation draws attention to a bad government policy, or criticises an MP, or raises money to pay for adverts opposing plans to privatise the NHS (for example), then that could be legally defined as electioneering and hence be prohibted.
Ivan Lewis MP said “The gagging law is an ill thought out piece of legislation. Instead of targetting professional lobbyists that have a disproportionate affect on the democratic process, it seeks to limit the voice of community groups and charties that have a vital role in policy development and scrutinising the actions of political parties.”
Sedgley Cllr Alan Quinn said “This is an attack on the Third Sector and it is also an attack on the trade unions. It is a cynical attempt to stop them funding the Labour Party. The Gagging Bill does nothing to stop millionairres bankrolling the Tories from tax havens and implementing policies that benefit their chums and not working people.”