Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Unlock Democracy: Gagging Law - The Aftermath


I am writing to update you on the campaign to fix the Lobbying Bill and to thank you for your support during our campaign. As you may have heard, the Bill has progressed through its final stages and will now become law. On Wednesday, the House of Lords narrowly voted to reject the amendments we had been pushing to fix the Bill; one amendment fell on a tied vote - 245-245.

This is a huge blow for democracy, charities and campaigners. We have been left with a Lobbying Bill that lets professional lobbyists off the hook but forces people campaigning to save their local hospital to jump through bureaucratic hoops.

We may not have won the votes on Wednesday but the campaign has produced some valuable results. The Civil Society Commission brought together more than 160 campaign groups to fight the Bill, including deadly enemies like the Countryside Alliance and the League Against Cruel Sports! The government was forced to offer a number of concessions in the face of overwhelming opposition. For example, the registration threshold for non-party organisations has been doubled from the government’s original proposals, meaning the smallest campaign groups will escape much of the new bureaucracy. Massive cuts to election spending limits in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been scaled back from the original proposals, meaning that campaigners can keep fighting for good causes across the UK.

These changes are due to the hard work of organisations like Unlock Democracy and would not have been possible without your support. We will keep working to limit the impact of the bill on charities and campaigners even after it reaches the statute book. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on actions you can take as time goes on.

These proposals were forced through Parliament with no public support, no consultation, and precious little time for scrutiny. This is not how law should be made; it underlines why we must keep fighting on other fronts for democratic reform. As we shift our focus towards our other campaigns, we want you to stay involved. In the run up to the General Election in 2015, Unlock Democracy will be asking how politics should really work and how citizens can have a real say in shaping laws and dictating policy.

Unlock Democracy could not continue its work without your support and engagement. Whether you’ve written to your MP, signed a petition, donated or helped us in other ways, thank you for all of your support in the campaign against the “Gagging Law”.

Best wishes,

Alexandra Runswick
Director, Unlock Democracy