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Dec 4th, 2013

Gagging Law: Kendal Public Meeting

By Megan Bentall

On Friday 38 Degrees members in Westmorland and Lonsdale attended a public meeting in Kendal about the gagging law. It was a brilliant celebration of democracy. Thanks so much to everyone who was able to attend and to those who helped spread the word about the public meeting.

The room was heaving, with 120 people there. The strength of feeling from the audience was incredible – it showed how much people cared about getting the gagging law changed.


The message from the audience to Tim Farron was clear: please do everything you can to make sure the gagging law is fixed or stopped. And it seemed that Tim Farron was listening. He accepted two important principles:

1. That the gagging law contains a bad definition of what should be treated as election campaigning and that this means single issue campaigning would be put under inappropriate restrictions. He said: “The definition needs fixing – it’s wrong that campaigning on issues like fracking or hospitals gets caught up in these regulations”

2. That, as it stands, the gagging law should be blocked. He argued that it was preferable to sort the definition out, so that new regulations were brought in to apply to truly partisan election campaigning – but if this wasn’t achieved he said he opposes the bill. He said: “it would be better if this bill was fixed rather than scrapped, but it’s better not going through at all if it’s not fixed”.

It’s great that Tim accepted there were problems with the law, but now he needs to follow through on his warm words with action. As President of the Liberal Democrat party, Tim Farron could get his colleagues to listen.

David, the speaker from the 38 Degrees office, listed lots of things Tim Farron could do:
1. He could write publicly with his opposition to the law, for example he could write a blog on the prominent Lib Dem Voice blog
2. He could speak directly to MPs, Lords and influential party whips
3. He could make a direct representation to Nick Clegg.

Let’s hope Tim Farron listens to the concerns of the audience, and the wider considers of charities and campaigning groups across the UK, and does all he can to help fix or scrap this law.

Were you at the meeting – do you think Tim will do all he can to help fix this law? What next for the gagging law campaign in Westmorland and Lonsdale?


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