Oct 21st, 2013
Gagging Law: Public Meeting with Julian Huppert MP
By 38 Degrees team
The public meetings on the gagging law kicked off last Thursday with Julian Huppert MP in Cambridge.
Over 100 people piled into a lecture hall to grill their MP. A bunch of 38 Degrees members and a couple of people from the office team even turned up early to chat about the bill before the main meeting got going. This was a great way for members in Cambridge to meet each other and share ideas before turning their fire on their MP.
Rachael Orr from Oxfam chaired an excellent panel of speakers. Alongside Julian Huppert MP and David from 38 Degrees, we heard from Jia Hui Lee from Cambridge University Student’s Union and Anne Miller, former board member of Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. Each panelist had their own angle on why the gagging law would be so damaging, and hearing from different people stimulated a really good debate.
But it was the audience, full of 38 Degrees members from Cambridge, that asked the most interesting questions. People wanted to know all sorts of things – why does the government want to restrict charities? Why is the bill so vague? How will it affect trade unions? Why doesn’t it crack down on big donations to political parties? What is my MP going to do about it? The meeting went on for over two hours, but there wasn’t a dull moment.
Julian Huppert abstained at the third reading of the bill in parliament, claiming he agreed with the principle of controlling lobbying but that there was still work to do. 38 Degrees members pushed him to pledge that, if the bill returns to the commons after the lords, not to shoot down any good changes made. Although he didn’t promise anything on the night, he’ll definitely be feeling the pressure to do the right thing.
Right now, public meetings with MPs on the gagging law are happening across the country – in Cornwall, Manchester, Bristol, London, Somerset and elsewhere. You can read about the effect they are having in the national press here, and find out about your closest meeting here.
In Cambridge, 38 Degrees members turned up the heat on their MP. If we can get our MPs to speak out and pile pressure on the lords, and persuade them to not obstruct positive changes, then together we can stop this law.
What do you think? Were you at the meeting? What has your MP been saying? What do you think are the best questions to ask our MPs? Post your comments below.