Monday, 9 September 2013

‘Lobbying law’ will hit free speech

Letters: ‘Lobbying law’ will hit free speech
Published: 5 September, 2013

• A NEW law being introduced by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats restricting campaigning is profoundly illiberal and needs to be halted before it silences independent voices.

No one disagrees with the fundamental aim of the lobbying bill (Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill) to create a statutory register of lobbyists.

But the bill goes one step further and widens the definition of “election campaigning” by third parties and restricts how much they can spend on it.

This means dozens of charities will be restricted in their free speech because their activities could be caught within the definition of political campaigning for the first time.

This could impact on national campaigns to save local facilities, such as children’s centres, libraries, hospitals and other causes.

People agree with reforming politics, but this seems like an attempt by the government to reform politics to their own advantage, at the expense of independent voices.

Politicians have to make difficult choices, but they should make them in the open and not try to restrict the ability of ordinary people or organise and challenge decisions independently of formal political parties.

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