Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Unlock Democracy: Lobbying Bill Next Big Scandal Waiting To Happen

It has been a busy few months, so I thought I’d drop you a quick note to let you know what we have been doing. More importantly I wanted to say thank you for continuing to support us.

Last week the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill - commonly--and more aptly--known as the Gagging Bill made its way through the House of Commons. This is frustrating, but far from the end of the campaign to open up lobbying. This Bill has been sped through parliament but in even in that short amount of time, with your help we have:
  • Organised over 2000 supporters to write to their MP demanding more scrutiny of the lobbying Bill.
  • Built a media campaign with our Director, Alexandra Runswick speaking regularly to the press about why the Bill will actually make "transparency and lobbying worse in the UK" including guest spots on Radio 4s Today programme and the Daily Politics show 
  • Taken the campaign to parliament by giving evidence to the Political Constitutional Reform Committee, ensuring all MPs and Peers were briefed. Plus we even live tweeted the Gagging Bill debates. 
  • Helped launched both the Civil Society Commission who will be investigating the real impact the gagging law could have on campaigning and the 1% is not enough campaign highlighting the weakness of the government’s proposals and calling for a lobbying register that covers all professional lobbyists.
  • Our volunteers have been busy making memes and infographics to get our campaign message out all over social media reaching over 25,000 people 
If this Bill becomes law it will make lobbying less transparent - only 1% of lobbying activity will be covered - and have a disastrous impact on civic society organisations right to campaign. The news of Chloe Smith stepping down from her junior ministerial position in charge of the Bill, should have been an opportunity for the government to rethink the Bill rather than continue to serve up a “dog’s breakfast”. The government needs to drop this Bill and propose legislation for a register of lobbyists that would be fit for purpose which they promised in the Coalition Agreement.

We are now taking this fight to the House of Lords. The government is determined to rush this Bill through at all costs and the Lords stages start next week. We need your help to build the democratic reform movement to put us in a stronger position to fight for a better democracy.

Your ongoing support is what motivates us to keep campaigning for a better democracy. Please remember to follow us on Twitter @UnlockDemocracy and for instant updates on our work and to join in the discussion‘Like’ our Facebook page

Best wishes,

Emily Randall

Senior Campaigner

PS. We also very excited and couldn’t wait to tell you that we have launched our weekly take on the week’s parliamentary action ‘Spotlight on Parliament’. And Blog Watch our round-up of the week’s political blogs highlighting progress relating to democratic reform and the issues we campaign on.

Plus during the party conference season we ran a series of Spotlights on the Party conferences ooking at how the parties tackled democratic reform. Enjoy!