Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/777/17305
Lobbying bill: don't let this Tory dream come true
The economy seems to be falling apart, yet nothing seems to have dented the upper-class arrogance and air of confidence that pervades the Tories.
It is easy to think of these aristocrats as stupid, but they are not. They will ruthlessly defend their class's power and privilege and this is proved by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill hastily introduced in the final days of the last parliamentary session and due to be rushed through this year.
The bill's provisions involve the registration of all political campaigns, groups and bloggers and limits on campaign funding and donations.
Electioneering is defined as anything directly or indirectly political. For breaching the new rules the penalty can be six to 12 months in prison.
Political parties are excluded from this legislation. You can imagine the thinking behind it:
'The media is tame, parliamentary opposition a joke - if only the others would disappear. We certainly don't want any more DPAC people chaining themselves up in protest against attacks on disabled people. Activities like that just prove they are all fit for work.
'Of course, it can't all be banned. We're a democracy - we even wage wars to prove it. Everyone hates corrupt politics and lobbyists. That's it! Put them all together. They are all trying to influence political decision-making! We'll label any form of political comment or activity electioneering.
'It's such a nuisance having the NHS mentioned, especially in the run-up to an election. We can say the election period is 12 months and include referenda. Penalties for breaking the rules, force them to submit quarterly and weekly accounts, register as third-parties with the Electoral Commission, limit their expenditure and include all running costs and staffing as campaign costs.
'Obviously our party, Ukip, the BNP and those bloody Lib Dems should be excluded. Not that there's much chance of Labour being a problem - but how can we get at them? Miliband attacking Unite over Falkirk is a golden opportunity to curtail union donations, break the link. And scupper any attempt at building a new union-backed party while we're at it.
'A bill to rule out groups unfairly manipulating the system. Like lobbyists - everyone hates them. Obviously, we'll let the lobbyists off the hook. The only transparency in this bill will be the light through the loopholes, but at least we can contain the dissenters - anti-cuts, NHS, ecology campaigns etc, charities, the voluntary sector, bloggers and e-petitions.
'Might even shut up the Guardian. Brilliant - sell it as a bill to clean-up politics. Let's hope they all fall into line. After all the law is the law. Now, how would we deal with a mass movement?'
In The Socialist 28 August 2013:
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