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Dec 11th, 2013

More gagging law petition hand in reports

By Robin Priestley

38 Degrees members up and down the length of the UK have been visiting their MPs to hand in a copy of the gagging law petition.  Over 100 petition hand in events have been organised already, with MPs of every political colour meeting their constituents to discuss the gagging law.  To find out if there is a petition hand in with your MP, or to help set one up if there isn’t yet, just click here and put in your postcode.

Here are some more reports and pictures from members who’ve already met their MP:

Vale of Glamorgan – Alun Cairns MP

Half a dozen 38 Degree members came along and they were all allowed in to the room and sat while Alun and I had a proper debate. He did his usual slippery subject-changing tactics but I managed to pull the conversation bad to the case in hand many times. He’s promised to look into two aspects of the matter for me:

– to find out where the amendment situation is by now (neither he or I had that information to hand) and to see whether they provided clear enough definitions of issue-based and political campaigning that all the charities and organisations that we believe so strongly in their work don’t get “caught up in the coat tails of the bill” as he so eloquently put it.

– to look into the possibility of pausing the bill for six months or so for proper consultation.

I’m not holding my breath (he’s voted against amendments and for the bill before) but he at least conceded that issue-based campaigning shouldn’t be sucked into party political/election rules.

38 Degrees member Donal

Bolton – David Crausby MP

Members of 38 Degrees met David Crausby yesterday and handed over the petition. Whilst declining to write or speak personally to Labour Lords he agreed to speak to Sadiq Khan who is the Commons link man for the Lords. He also said he would try to ensure the petition itself was promulgated further as it was valuable.

38 Degrees member Christine

Kenilworth and Southam – Jeremy Wright MP

I started by giving Mr Wright the letter from David Babbs and the actual petition and highlighting the Commission for Civil Society and Democratic Engagement’s report including the high-profile commissioners and the date that the report was produced.

I then asked Mr Wright if he could commit to reading the report and, if his stance changes upon reading it, whether he could then speak to any Lords he knows to propose the necessary amendments and then support any amendments that return to the Commons. Lastly I did ask if he felt strongly enough if he would write to any Lords calling for the bill to scrapped or fixed, however I qualified that with an understanding that as a Minister that might be difficult.

Mr Rukin was then able to clearly demonstrate the impact this bill will have directly on campaigns like StopHS2 and I felt that Mr Wright’s understanding of the issues this bill will cause was improved by Mr Rukin’s account. I won’t attempt to give you a detailed account of Mr Rukin’s argument, but will be interested if he would like to outline it in a response.

Mr Wright highlighted that Part 2 is attempting to prevent political parties from circumventing the main thrust of the bill by campaigning via proxy. I agree with him that this is something that needs to be included, but not in the way in which it is currently worded and not without proper consultation. I felt Mr Wright was sympathetic to this view.

Mr Wright committed to reading the report and I felt that he would give it a truly unbiased reading and I now have a hope that he will change his stance on Part 2. Mr Wright was very clear that he was only committing to reading the report.

38 Degrees member Colin

Bury South – Ivan Lewis MP

Six 38 degrees members, Neville, Paul, Vicki, Brian, Maria and Brian handed a copy of the Gagging Law petition into Ivan Lewis the MP for Bury South on Sunday 8th December at Ivan’s constituency office (see attached picture). In addition 5 local councillors and the local labour party manager also attended as they had signed the petition and were concerned about this bill becoming law. The group talk in depth for almost an hour about the bill and the implications it would have if the bill went through in its present format. Ivan Lewis assured us that both he and the Labour party will do everything they can to ensure that the bill continues to be paused until Part II of the bill is rewritten and scrutinised to ensure that it does not impact on individuals and groups democratic rights or until the bill is scrapped.

38 Degrees member Maria

Stone – Bill Cash MP

We arrived in good time for our appointment, luckily, as it was market day and the town was full and car parking a premium.
We were greeted by an enthusiastic group of 38 degree members 30 in total, who spotted us by our large orange box with the 38 degree poster on the front, they quickly rounded everyone up for photos. Which should already be with you.
Our appointment was late, but finally we were able to present him with the petition, the letter and disk.
He said he was in-favour of campaigning, and had in the past par-taken in many.
He said he would support this campaign by using the petition to lobby the relevant people.
He was in agreement regarding the second part of this Bill, but had reservations about some charities that may be political. I think he was surprised at the size of the petition.
Hope this action helps and well done to the 28 other 38 degree members who supported us, after struggling to park and attend.

38 Degrees members Helen & Harry


You can read about more gagging law petition hand ins here

If we work together, we can make sure every MP is visited by a group of 38 Degrees members in their constituency with a copy of our massive petition against the gagging law. And if MPs are convinced their constituents are against it, they’ll be putting pressure on the government to pull the plug on the gagging law.

So could you book an appointment with your MP for 38 Degrees members in your constituency to give them the petition? All you have to do is click this link and enter your postcode. Then you’ll get their phone number and be guided through making the call.

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