Nick Clegg is still bullish in his support for a law that could silence charities and campaigning organisations

nick-cleggJust yesterday he said:

I am unapologetically enthusiastic about a measure that will do a great deal to safeguard the integrity of the democratic process.” [3]

This reads like something from George Orwell’s 1984 – the current draft law would do pretty much exactly the opposite! The Commission of Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, supported by over 60 charities and organisations, and chaired by the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries, says:

“There is no doubt that…part 2 of the Lobbying Bill risks profoundly undermining the very fabric of our democracy and significantly limiting the right of organisations – from charities and community groups to think tanks and blog sites – to speak out on some of the most important issue facing this country and the planet.” [4]

Other Lib Dems, particularly in the House of Lords, do seem to be starting to listen. [5] But Nick Clegg is the party leader. For us to win, he needs to change his mind. This Friday is our best chance yet to put pressure on him, with a public meeting in his backyard and a massive petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people.

You can add your voice here:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/fix-or-scrap-the-gagging-law

PS: Nick Clegg is refusing to attend his constituency meeting tomorrow and is sending a “representative” instead. That probably says a lot about how much pressure has been put upon him! Let’s hope his “representative” reports back to him how big the petition has grown.

NOTES
[1] You can find out more details about the event here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/538477552906549/
[2] A massive range of charities and voluntary organisations have criticised the gagging law. See this open letter, for example:
http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Chloe-Smith-non-party-campaigning-final.pdf
[3] This is how Nick Clegg responded to the gagging law in a recent debate (see column 1074):
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131119/debtext/131119-0001.htm#13111942000015
[4] Foreword, Non-Party Campaigning Ahead of Elections by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement:
http://civilsocietycommission.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/civil-society-commission-report-WEB.pdf
[5] The government seems to have delayed the legislation because it was worried that if it didn’t, some Lib dem peers would join forces with Labour and Crossbenchers to vote the law down. And several Lib Dems, including senior figures like Lib Dem minister Lord Wallace, have acknowledged the concerns raised in the report the the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement. Several Lib Dems MPs also voted against the gagging law when it was last debated in the House of Commons, though a large majority voted in favour. See for example here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10428847/The-governments-lobbying-bill-will-be-paused-for-six-weeks.html

Thanks to 38 Degrees for the above information.

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