From Catherine West, Labour Candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green
Freedom of speech, the right to debate ideas, is fundamental to democracy. Voters need be able to make an informed choice. The ‘gagging bill’ is specifically designed to thwart this: it undermines the basis of our democracy.
The ‘gagging bill’, or Lobbying Bill, is draconian in its reach and effect. The legislation states that ordinary charities or bodies do not need to mention a party or candidate, or even a specific government policy, to have their work regulated or stopped. Everything that might influence or challenge any government policy is covered.
This Tory/Lib Dem government does not like criticism. This sinister piece of legislation, rushed through parliament, is another in a litany of attacks on the nature of our democracy and our right to make informed choices. I am surprised that the Liberal Democrats and Lynne Featherstone supported this bill.
In a society where the majority of news outlets spout Conservative party policies as fact; where you can be arrested for peacefully attending a demonstration and holding a up a poster that is rude to the Prime Minister; where the right to challenge the government in the courts is being severely curtailed and where big business and those with power will still be able to influence policy - a bill that will prevent ordinary people from mobilising and raising important issues is truly frightening.
The ‘gagging bill’ says everything about this Tory/Lib Dem government: illiberal, undemocratic and willing to do anything to stay in power. It was meant to be a bill that challenged the influence of corporate interests like the tobacco companies, and instead it is an all-out attack on charities that represent vulnerable people.
Please support me in my campaign to win against Lynne Featherstone in 2015: you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate to help us raise much needed funds. We need your help. We need to win.
Labour's candidate for MP