Oct 21st, 2013
Gagging Law: Public Meeting with Tessa Munt MP
By 38 Degrees team
The next wave of public meetings on the gagging law went ahead on Friday night, including in Wells with Tessa Munt MP.
Over 100 people squeezed into a hotel function room in Wells city centre to grill their MP in an event organised by some fantastic 38 Degrees volunteers. A bunch of members even got together with someone from the office team before the main meeting to learn more about the bill. This was a great way for members from Wells, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Street, Wookey, Wedmore, Cheddar and other parts of Somerset to meet and share ideas before turning their fire on their MP.
As well as Tessa Munt MP and Becky from 38 Degrees, we had Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth speaking and Cara Bevington from Bond as chair. Each panelist had something very different to say, and hearing from a range of people meant for a wide ranging conversation about the threat posed by the gagging law.
But by far the best questions came from the audience. 38 Degrees members, ordinary residents, local councillors, and representatives from community groups like the Women’s Institute all came along to let Tessa Munt know how they felt. The room was packed, with people standing at the back and more arriving throughout. People had to speak up to be heard, and passions were running high, which made for a fiery, but constructive debate. The meeting went on for an hour and a half, but could’ve gone on longer if Tessa Munt didn’t have to leave.
Tessa Munt has a small government job (Parliamentary Private Secretary to Vince Cable MP), and claimed she had to side with ministers in the recent vote in parliament. 38 Degrees members asked her to go back to her government colleagues and ensure the worst bits of this terrible law are scrapped as it makes its way through the House of Lords. After seeing people power at work at the meeting on Friday night, she’ll be definitely 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, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge and elsewhere. You can read about the effect they are having in the national press here, and find out about your closest meeting here.
A huge thank you goes out to all the 38 Degrees members in Wells who came along and 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 do you think are the best questions to ask our MPs? What else should 38 Degrees members do to stop the gagging law? Post your comments below.