Oct 22nd, 2013
Gagging law: public meeting with Lorely Burt MP
By Megan Bentall
Friday night saw a second wave of public meetings between 38 Degrees members and MPs across the UK. This included a meeting in Solihull with MP Lorely Burt.
Originally Lorely had said she was unable to attend a planned public meeting for later this week on the 24th, so it was great that she managed to hold her own meeting last Friday. Even with the shorter notice, the seats in the hall at Solihull Women’s Institute soon filled up.
Before the meeting, 38 Degrees members got together with Maddy and I from the office team to learn more about the bill. It was a great way for members from Solihull to meet and share ideas before turning their fire on their MP.
Lorely Burt spoke for around ten minutes about her understanding of what the law was for, and why she voted for it. She also acknowledged that it wasn’t a perfect bill, and she expected the Lords would amend it, before inviting questions from the hall.
The audience asked some fantastic questions. Wanting to know things like why the bill was being rushed through so quickly, why Lorely voted it for if she knew there were problems with it, what the bill was even trying to stop. People had to speak up to be heard, and passions were running high, which made for a fiery if constructive debate.
The meeting went on for an hour, and the audience was so well informed about the issues with the law that by the end of it Lorely Burt admitted that she “was starting to doubt even her own words.” It was a great event, and it’s just a shame that there were so many questions not everyone had to time to ask them!
After being asked, she promised the audience that she would take their concerns with the law to the Lords. 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 should 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, 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 Solihull 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.