Lobbying Bill 'a huge blow to democracy', say political reformers

By staff writers
30 Jan 2014

Political reform group Unlock Democracy has described the Lobbying Bill, which will now become law in the UK, as "a huge blow to democracy".

The Bill targets charities, campaigners, NGOs and unions, (restricting their freedom of speech as non-party organisations at election times) while letting most rich, corporate lobbyists off the hook, points out Unlock Democracy.

Director Alexandra Strudwick declared: "We may not have won the recent votes [in the House of Lords] but the campaign has produced some valuable results. The Civil Society Commission brought together more than 160 groups to fight the Bill, including deadly enemies like the Countryside Alliance and the League Against Cruel Sports!

"The government was forced to offer a number of concessions in the face of overwhelming opposition. For example, the registration threshold for non-party organisations has been doubled from the government’s original proposals, meaning the smallest campaign groups will escape much of the new bureaucracy.

"Massive cuts to election spending limits in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been scaled back from the original proposals, meaning that campaigners can keep fighting for good causes across the UK. "

These changes are due to the hard work of many organisations, acknowledged Ms Strudwick.

"We will keep working to limit the impact of the bill on charities and campaigners even after it reaches the statute book.

"These proposals were forced through Parliament with no public support, no consultation, and precious little time for scrutiny. This is not how law should be made; it underlines why we must keep fighting on other fronts for democratic reform.

"In the run up to the General Election in 2015, Unlock Democracy will be asking how politics should really work and how citizens can have a real say in shaping laws and dictating policy."

* More on the Lobbying Bill from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/lobbyingbill

Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement (CCSDE): http://civilsocietycommission.info

Ekklesia is an active supporter of the CCSDE.

[Ekk/3]

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