gagging bill

Last year, charities were threatened with the Lobbying Act's "gagging clauses", and now we learn that the Government wants to prevent charities using public money to participate in contemporary debates on public policy.
Every so often and with seemingly increasing frequency, the siren voices of parts of the media and certain politicians demand that charities cease campaigning. Some of these voices actually go further and demand that the Government passes legislation to silence charities.
The Labour party was created as the parliamentary voice of the labour movement and it is our duty to stand up for the rights and living standards of working people. Alongside campaigning to end austerity, opposing and defeating this latest attack on the unions must now be a touchstone issue for us all.
Politics is far too important to leave it to politicians. And giant media corporations. And corporate lobbyists like Linton Crosby, not regulated by this Bill. That's the view of all the people who give their money, time and trust to some of our best-loved organisations from Oxfam and Amnesty International to the Federation of Women's Institutes and the Royal British Legion.
The Henry VIII Clause? Surely the government would not resort to an outdated archaic process that could undermine the democracy of our legislature - Parliament? Well, it appears they could. Henry VIII clauses give the government significant power to change what Parliament has enacted.
From a government that promised that it would fix our broken politics, this really is a Bill to be ashamed of. Despite a raft of panic concessions won by huge pressure from irate charities and third party campaigners, this is still a Bill that stands up for vested interests and shuts up everyone else... This is not what this legislation should have looked like. We have a desperate need for political reform in our country because people are switching off from politics in their droves. They want to see action to clean up lobbying because every lobbying scandal just erodes their trust further.
This is a bad Bill that the government should be ashamed of. It introduces a register of lobbyists so limited that it is not worthy of the name and might actually make things worse. It wraps unions in red tape. And it means companies and trade associations can continue to lobby in secret while charities and campaigners are gagged.
The reality is that the government have put their fingers in their ears, refused to listen to the clamour from across civil society and are ploughing on regardless. Their gag is a deliberate and cynical attempt to insulate their record and policies from legitimate, democratic criticism in the run up to an election.
Fortuitously the start of my work placement with Unlock Democracy, a lobby for constitutional reform, coincided with the reassembling of Parliament post-recess, which heralded the passage of the trumpeted "Transparency Bill" in to legislation. It revealed to me - a huge politics geek - a lot about how public policy is made and influenced in the United Kingdom.