Nov 26th, 2013
Gagging law: Hendon members quiz Matthew Offord MP
By India Thorogood
On Friday night 38 Degrees members in Hendon went along to a meeting with their local MP, Matthew Offord. Mr Offord has so far refused a public meeting with his constituents on the gagging law. When members were polled, together they decided it was important to go along to this constituency meeting and raise the issue.
Firstly, a 38 Degrees member asked “what is the Lobbying Bill? And why has it come about?” To answer this, Mr Offord mostly talked about how the bill would restrict Trade Unions from campaigning on issues that could promote the Labour party. Of course, there are three parts to the Bill, and it was disappointing that Matthew focused on only one aspect of it.
Another 38 Degrees member, Daniel, pointed out that the Bill was too wide and that it needed further consultation.
Matthew said that charities have been doing too much campaigning and that they should focus on providing services. He even said that those who donate to charities would be unhappy to see their money used for campaigning. I was reminded of a great quote from a 38 Degrees member in Norwich South – she pointed out that the government thinks a “charity can give a person bread but it can’t ask why this person has no bread!”
Daniel was really worried that the gagging law will restrict the environmental organisations he supports – like Friends of the Earth.
Matthew’s response to this point was really disappointing – he said it will not affect them. Yet Friends of the Earth have been clear in their opposition to the gagging law. They’ve said it could silence them, along with other campaigners.
Are you a Hendon constituent? How do you feel about what Matthew said at the meeting?