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Feb 6th, 2014

The gagging law: A summary

By Rebecca Falcon

This might be the last update about the gagging law for a while! After the final vote last week, here’s a quick summary of what it means and what happens next:

The gagging law kicks in from September 2014. At that point 38 Degrees will face big new restrictions on how we campaign. These will be lifted in May 2015, but then return a year before the next election.

That means we now have seven months to work out what to do when the gagging period starts. Every 38 Degrees member will get a say. We’ll also need to take advice from lawyers and other experts.

In the meantime, we can continue to campaign together as usual.

If you have thoughts on how the campaign went, and what 38 Degrees should do next, click here to complete this short survey.

In the next seven months, before the gagging law starts, we can achieve more together than we ever have before. The gagging law campaign showed just how determined 38 Degrees members are to stand up for principles like democracy and fairness.

One of the most exciting things about the campaign was how much happened “offline”, in local communities across the UK. Thousands of 38 Degrees members got involved in public meetings, petition hand-ins with MPs, and local protests. I hope we can do a lot more of that.

It was so exciting for 38 Degrees members to work with so many hundreds of charities, campaigners and community groups. Let’s make sure we keep these new friends. We’re all stronger when we stick together to stand up for democracy.

Suggestions have been flooding in for how 38 Degrees – and other campaign groups – can cope with the gagging law. Some are suggesting ways of getting around the law. Others are saying that campaign groups should simply refuse to obey it. And others are proposing ways of keeping campaigns going despite new restrictions.

One of the successes of the campaign was to get a delay in when the gagging law starts. We now have until September to look into all our options and decide together what we do. We will need to get expert advice. But the final decision will be up to all 38 Degrees members.

Please share your views on what we should do next by filling out this survey.

Here are what a few 38 Degrees members have said so far:

Micheline: Civil disobedience is the only rational response. Many laws have been found to be unenforceable in practice if they do not have the consent of the people.

Douglas: So this law doesn’t apply to political candidates… That in of itself is the get-out.

Mansukhlal: In the garb of democracy the coalition government’s steam rolling of gagging legislation is nothing less than breach of trust of the electorate, hook, line and sinker. At the forthcoming election vote for the party that gives cast iron guarantee that it will invalidate such a draconian measure within 4 weeks from success in the election.

Aiden: Just because the bill is now law, doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We should ignore the bill, and do all the campaigning we please.

Wendé: I am with you 38 Degrees people. We must keep on fighting this democracy- hating government. United we must stand and there must be lots of us. They can’t imprison everybody if we break such a stupid law.

Donald: Give them an election they will never ever forget…. GET OUT AND VOTE and encourage everyone else to as well. They want to hear our voice ? Let them hear it.

Please add your thoughts here.

It’s really hard when a big campaign is lost, especially one as important as this. But everyone is now refocusing on the future, and 38 Degrees members are determined to keep going. We can all feel very lucky to be working with such a large and principled group of people.

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