Here’s a newspaper headline, in today’s Independent, which every 38 Degrees member can feel proud of: “Tories put Lobbying Bill on hold over fears of embarrassing defeat in House of Lords“.
It looks like the campaign against the gagging law is starting to work!
In the face of an ever-growing campaign, the government was forced to concede a six-week delay for more consideration. They had to promise further “consultation”.
This is nowhere near the end. It remains to be seen if the six week delay will mean real changes. But I still think it’s big news, for two reasons:
1. It proves the campaigning is starting to work and the government is starting to get worried.
Yesterday the 38 Degrees petition calling on the government to “fix or scrap” the gagging law passed 100,000 signatures in just a few hours. Meanwhile over 50 different charities and voluntary groups wrote to almost every single Lord, expressing concerns about this big threat to democracy.
Behind the scenes, there are growing signs that many government Lords – Lib Dems in particular – are starting to realise that the gagging law would be terrible for their reputations as well as for democracy.
By working together we have forced the government to start backing down. If we keep building the pressure, we’ve got every chance of getting them to back down fully.
2. It gives us more time to grow the campaign against the gagging law
The government may be hoping for a breather. But 38 Degrees members – along with all the other groups campaigning against this law – have momentum on our side. We can use this six week pause to get organised and step up the campaign.
So, this seems like a good time to say THANK YOU AND WELL DONE! I thought I would also share some thoughts on our strategy. As with the last time I sent one of these update emails, feel free to send me your thoughts by hitting reply to this email.
My sense is that we need to do two big things to stop the gagging law going through:
1. push for real changes to be made in the Lords
2. raise the political pressure on the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives
Here’s some more detail:
1. Push for real changes to be made in the Lords
Getting the delay is progress, but a threat to democracy is still a threat to democracy in six weeks time!
We will need to convince enough Liberal Democrat and Conservative Lords to join forces with independent (“crossbench”) and Labour Lords. We need them to promise they’ll vote to make sure the gagging law is either fixed or scrapped when it comes back in six weeks.
- proving to members of the House of Lords that the public is against the gagging law. Building a really big petition will help – if you haven’t already signed, you can do so here.
- Personal lobbying of Lords – if you happen to know a member of the House of Lords, please use your personal contacts to persuade them to vote the right way. For advice on doing this, please let the office team know you can help by clicking here.
- Working with other groups who are also going to be hit by the gagging law. If you are involved with another campaign or charity, please get in touch with them and ask them to do all they can. If they haven’t already got involved in the campaign, ask them to read the report by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement.
2. Raise the pressure on Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs
The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are behind the gagging law. All the other parties in Parliament have come out against it. That means pressure on Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs, particularly those in marginal constituencies, is crucial.
We need to convince enough Lib Dem and Conservative MPs that pushing the gagging law through is unpopular and risks losing them votes at the next election.
You can help by:
- emailing your MP, phoning your MP, visiting your MP, and asking your neighbours to do the same – particularly if your MP is Liberal Democrat or Conservative
- Donating to help fund local campaigning efforts focused on Lib Dem and Conservative MPs with slim majorities. Cash pays for posters, leaflets and adverts in local papers highlighting the threat to democracy. 38 Degrees members have donated over £120,000 to this local campaigning so far – you can chip in here.
What do you think of these plans? What else could we be doing? Just hit reply to this email to share your thoughts.
It’s been amazing for me to see all the campaigning on the gagging law. I’ve been lucky enough to get to meet lots of you at public meetings over the past few weeks. If you haven’t made it to one yet, this video from Norwich a couple of weeks ago gives a flavour of what’s been happening:
38 Degrees members have played a key role in the campaign against the gagging law so far. You’ve signed petitions, contacted your MPs, donated over £120,000 to spend on adverts, posters and over 300,000 leaflets. You’ve teamed up with other groups in your local area to put your MPs on the spot.
I feel very lucky to be part of this campaign. The stakes are high. Democracy and freedom of speech would be gravely threatened if we lose. But it looks like we are turning the tide.
Let’s keep going!