The Tory Gagging Bill is passed
From Another Angry Voice: Despite a massive campaign of resistance, the Tories managed to pass what has become commonly known as “the gagging bill“. I prefer to refer to it as “The Protection of Corporate Lobbying and Silencing of Legitimate Debate bill” because that is precisely what it is. The mainstream corporate press have played along with the government by continually referring to it as the “lobbying bill“, despite the fact that the majority of the lobbying industry will remain entirely unaffected by it. Essentially the bill protects in-house corporate lobbying operations from any kind of official scrutiny, meaning that a cloak of secrecy will still shroud their influence upon our politicians.
The fact that the so-called “lobbying bill” does so little to regulate the activities of corporate lobbyists isn’t even the worst of it. The truly appalling part is the extensive second section of the bill which is clearly designed to silence critics of the government such as charities, voluntary organisations, protest groups, trade unions and religions.
The intention to use this new legislation in order to revoke the freedom of speech of organisations that criticise government policy was made absolutely clear by the language used by Iain Duncan Smith in his tirade against the Trussell Trust food bank group earlier in January.
Liz Hutchins, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said it was “a bad day for anyone wanting to protect the environment, save a hospital or oppose tuition fees” and Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) said that “We must be clear: civil society must never lose its voice. We must stand up for our beliefs and refuse self-censorship. ACEVO will work tirelessly to ensure that this Bill does not gag charities and campaigners”. Others have noted that this bill will impose a massive regulatory burden on charities and voluntary organisations, which is yet another demonstration that David Cameron’s “Big Society” is a hoax. If the Tories actually wanted a “Big Society” there is absolutely no way they would be nailing charities and voluntary organisations down with such burdensome and illiberal legislation.