• Govt “myth busting” document to MPs, contained myths

    5th September 2013 | News | Claire
  • It looks like it falls to us to put the record straight. Here’s the advice from 38 Degrees……

    On Tuesday the gagging law had its first debate in parliament. [1] The brilliant work of hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members – along with over 100 charities, community groups and campaigns – stopped it slipping through quietly. Dozens of MPs highlighted how many of us had contacted them and raised serious concerns about the plan.

    The government managed to win a vote for the law to pass to the next stage. But, as The Daily Telegraph put it, they were “given a rough ride” with “grisly scenes in the Commons”. [2] Eleven coalition MPs went as far as to rebel. [3] Others said they only backed the government now because they expect changes to be made further down the line. [4]

    For an early debate like Tuesday’s, this was a good result. It showed that our campaigning is starting to change MPs’ minds. But it also showed that we need to do more if we’re going to see off this threat to democracy.

    Your MP, Hugo Swire, has his next chance to vote on Tuesday. Please can you email him before then, with a link to an updated briefing about the problems with the gagging law?

    Before Tuesday’s votes, the government sent MPs a “myth buster” document, to persuade them to toe the line. A copy was leaked to 38 Degrees. Sadly, the myth buster contained rather a lot of myths of its own! If we can counter the government’s misleading spin, we’ve got every chance of getting more MPs on board.

    A legal expert has written a response the government’s myths. It sets out line by line why the gagging law would hit charities, community groups and campaigners. Please can you email Hugo Swire a copy? It would only take a minute or so and could make a big difference.

    MPs get another chance to vote next Tuesday. That debate will focus on possible changes which could be made. So by next week we need to have proved to more MPs that the threats posed by the gagging law are real. That means highlighting the problems in the draft law carefully, line by line.

    All kinds of groups with all kinds of views are joining together to try to stop this law. We don’t all agree about absolutely everything. But we can all agree about this: in a democracy, all kinds of people and groups should be able to express their opinions. Most of us don’t want to join a political party. If independent groups get gagged, millions of us will be shut out of the political process.

    Please contact Hugo Swire and make sure he’s seen the facts about this threat to democracy: