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Oct 9th, 2013

Rally for freedom of speech

By Robin Priestley

Hundreds of people headed down to Parliament Square as part of a Rally for freedom of speech to protest the government’s controversial gagging law.

The chanting crowd waved placards and made impassioned speeches as MPs sat in Parliament debating the controversial law.  If it passes, it would have a chilling effect on British democracy and our right to speak up on issues that matter to us.  38 Degrees members came down to make sure that when MPs vote on the bill, they have our voices and chants ringing in their ears, and they are aware of the level of public outrage about the law.

There was a placard making stall, a soap box to give speeches from, a live tweet board (showing messages from around the country), face painting and much more.  We heard from a host of individual campaigners and organisations on why the gagging law must be stopped, and why they had travelled to Parliament to make their point.

We lined up along the length of the square facing Parliament to show the wide range of voices from across the world of politics who are against the gagging law.

From protecting the NHS to saving the bees to stopping the snoopers charter – people-power has shown it can achieve amazing things. And it’s worth fighting for.  From May 2014, draconian new rules would prevent non-politicians from speaking up on the big issues of the day. A huge range of campaign groups and charities — everyone from The Royal British Legion, to Oxfam, to the RSPB — are warning about the threat this poses.

Action Aid, Cafod, Stop HS2, Campaign for Better Transport, Peter Tatchell, Caroline Lucas MP and many more groups joined us on the square to make sure our voices were heard.

Thanks so much to everyone who came down and made the rally such a success.  We’ll be keeping our eyes on the MPs to see how they vote…


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