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Jan 11th, 2014

Gagging law: public meeting in Edinburgh West

By Megan Bentall

38 Degrees members in Edinburgh West had a chance to question Mike Crockart about the controversial gagging law this week during a public meeting that was organised around the issue.

It was the first time 38 Degrees had held a meeting in Scotland and what a meeting it turned out to be. It was held on the same day that the government offered some concessions due to pressure that 38 Degrees members from Edinburgh to Brighton had piled upon them. Thankfully, none of us were about to give up that easily and there were questions from the panel and the floor highlighting the need for the amendments to go even further!

On the panel were Martin Sime, The Executive Director of SCVO, Juliet Swann from the Scottish branch of the Electoral Reform Society, Richard Dixon, the Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland and of course Mike Crockart MP, who we must commend for attending after some MP’s from other constituencies were no shows! The meeting was chaired by 38 Degrees staff member Blanche Jones.

Someone involved in a local community council wanted to know why there were so many 3rd sector organisations complaining about the bill yet the banks and tobacco and alcohol industries didn’t seem to be bothered by any of the implications. A man with a disability who takes part in grassroots campaigns wanted to know how this would affect his groups abilities to continue doing so. And one member stated that 38 Degrees organising these meetings was for people who are feeling disconnected from politics to come together and ask the politicians to listen. Yet she was concerned that they weren’t doing so.

So a massive thanks to everyone who came. Together we’ve helped to show that we won’t accept this attack on democracy and proven that we will keep fighting to uphold our right to freedom of speech. This is democracy in action. And it’s wonderful.

If you were unable to attend the meeting or would just like to listen again or share with your friends you can listen to the audio recording here.

What do you think? Have you any suggestions as to how the meetings could have been better? Should 38 Degrees members organise them more regularly? Post your comments below.

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