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Oct 22nd, 2013

Gagging law: public meeting with Duncan Hames MP

By Rebecca Falcon

Thank you to everyone who came along to Chippenham Town Hall on Friday to talk to Duncan Hames MP about the gagging law. What an incredible evening it was! The hall was packed with 38 Degrees members and local people, all concerned that the lobbying bill, now in the House of Lords, would gag freedom of speech in the UK.

There were some incredible questions asked. Representatives from the Women’s Institute and Citizens Advice stood up, looked Duncan Hames in the eye, and asked him why he was supporting a bill that has been opposed by the range of civil society in the UK.

Other people who came along were deeply concerned about how the gagging law would affect their ability to campaign on issues from the NHS, to student fees, to motorcyclists’ rights.

Duncan Hames answered our questions. But his arguments were challenged by audience members who wanted to know why the bill hasn’t had proper pre-legislative scrutiny, and why the government are refusing to accept the independent legal advice against the bill.

The questions kept rolling as more and more people felt compelled to question their MP about the problems with the gagging law. By the end of the evening the atmosphere in the room was electric and people left talking to each other about the gagging law – feeling empowered by democracy in action in Chippenham. Duncan Hames certainly left with something to think about – now we need to keep up the pressure to make sure he stands against the gagging law when it passes back to the House of Commons.

A huge thank you goes out to all the 38 Degrees members in Chippenham 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.

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