September 3rd, 2013

Wonks Demolish Lobbying Bill
IEA, TFA, CPS, TPA, BBW and ASI Slam Proposals

We wish to highlight our grave concern about the Government’s Lobbying Bill, a piece of legislation that poses a significant threat to legitimate campaigning freedom of speech, political activism and informed public debate.

Part II of the bill threatens the ability of charities, research and campaigning organisations to inform the public debate, fulfil their missions and raise awareness of important issues. The current drafting would capture a huge number of organisations who would not presently be considered as relevant to electoral law and who do not receive any state funding. It also threatens to dramatically expand the range of activity regulated far beyond any common sense understanding of commercial lobbying. 

We do not regard the Cabinet Office’s assurances as sufficient given the widespread legal doubts expressed from across the political spectrum. It cannot be a prudent approach to legislate on the basis of assurances that enforcement will not be to the full extent of the law. The exceptions offered are unclear and unconvincing.

The lack of clarity in the legislation further exacerbates its complexity, while granting a remarkably broad discretion to the Electoral Commission. The potential tidal wave of bureaucracy could cripple even well-established organisations, while forcing groups to reconsider activity if there is a perceived risk of falling foul of the law. This self-censorship is an inevitable consequence of the bill as it stands. 

We urge the Government to reconsider its approach and to urgently address the fundamental failings in this legislation.

Yours Sincerely,

Mark Littlewood, Director General, Institute for Economic Affairs
Simon Richards, Director, The Freedom Association
Tim Knox, Director, Centre for Policy Studies
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive, Taxpayers’ Alliance
Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN
Emma Carr, Deputy Director, Big Brother Watch
Eamonn Butler, Director, the Adam Smith Institute

Well that’s pretty comprehensive…


  1. 1
    The Great British Public says:

    Why dont we just bash lobbying…make it illegal?

    and kick the asses of ALL lobbyists FFS

    (As Gweeds would say)

  2. 2
    An MP with a vested interest says:

    Now hang on…

  3. 3
    Maq­boul says:

    Define “lobbying” tough guy.

  4. 4

    Another Tory assault on British freedom.

  5. 5
    Made in America says:

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:

    All worthy freedom loving organisations here, they should be listened to. Are the proper Tories saying anything?

  7. 7
    Ed Miliband, blowing snot on the dead children of Syria says:

    Yeth, I think I agree.

  8. 8
    broderick crawford says:

    not one of thee signatories purport to earn their living from a private enterprise.

    they are all affilliated to quangos or self serving institutions that milk their members for cash or suck ravenously from the state teat .

    why have they not all been introduced to pol pot ?

  9. 9
    Chewie says:

    Astroturfing is not the same as a grass roots movement.

  10. 10
    Living in 97.222% white Merseyside says:

    This type of legislation reminds me when the late Rt . Hon. and Noble Lady was in power.

    She didn’t like dissenting voices.

  11. 11
    Living in 97.222% white Merseyside says:

    Talking of the late Rt.Hon. and Noble Lady, I wonder how she would have coped with the power of the internet?

  12. 12
    matthu says:

    When they say “The current drafting would capture a huge number of organisations who would not presently be considered as relevant to electoral law and who do not receive any state funding” I do hope they are not referring to charities not receiving any state funding?

    Some of the very biggest lobbyists are charities and they receive massive funding, often from the EU.

  13. 13
    cynic says:

    Hang everyone associated with these sleazy organisations – and their political and bureaucratic contacts. Place a huge tax on marketing and advertising (beyond small ads by individuals) and brand names. Make it a capital offence to publicise the self serving views of quangocrats and luvvies.

  14. 14
    Wankers Unite says:

    Yes do it to the bloodsuckers, put them on bennies.

  15. 15
    Graham says:

    Ban lobbying and lobbyists altogether.

  16. 16
    Llareggub says:

    None of them are quangos. They are all think tanks, which are not generally state funded. Those who choose to fund them are free to stop, any time they want to.

    But apart from all that, so what? Are they not allowed to voice an opinion?

  17. 17
    Llareggub says:

    That simple, huh? Good luck on that one.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Penfold says:

    Methinks they doth proteth too much.

    Anyone in receipt of taxpayers monies has a vested interest and should not lobby.

    In fact lobbying is anti-democratic and should be outlawed.

    Why should MP’s, paid from the public purse, elected by the public, be exposed to outside vested interests, when the constituents are in the main ignored, and have no recall option for incompetent or useless or corrupt representatives.

    Fuck ‘em all.

  20. 20

    I never agreed to this, and anybody who says I did is a Tory liar.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Silence is golden says:

    Simple. Make it a criminal offence for anyone to talk to, communicate with, treat or fund any politician in any way at any time.

  23. 23
    JohnM says:

    From the Guardian:

    ” The “transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill” will treat charities, thinktanks, blogs, community groups and activists of every hue as political parties. From tiny groups vocal on local matters to great national organisations, all risk being silenced in the year before a general election, to avoid falling under electoral law. Any organisation spending £5,000 a year and expressing an opinion on anything remotely political must register with the Electoral Commission.

    The way permitted campaign spending is calculated has been widened in remit and cut by 60%, so it includes all staffing costs for the year. That will include not only large charities but little groups affiliated to national umbrella organisations whose spending will contribute to a national capped limit. So a Save Our Sure Start or Save Our Hospital in a small town finds every linked Sure Start or NHS campaign counted into its local spending for electoral purposes. Since almost everything is political, this kills much debate in election years when voters should be hearing policy choices”

    Douglas Carswell MP:

    “In a free society, if the Taxpayers Alliance or 38 Degrees want to urge people to “vote for Joe Bloggs” – as opposed to that awful Carswell – they should be able to so. Yet if this Bill becomes law, a campaign organisation will find that it is restricted in its ability to urge voters to vote for a particular candidate. “That” I was told “is the job of the parties”.

    Although the Bill brings in all the baggage of compliance for non-parties wanting to “promote” a particular candidate, it does not curtail the ability of a campaign group to trash a candidate. It could have almost been designed to encourage negative campaigning.

    “But” I hear my Tory-minded readers say “what about Unison, Unite and all those trade unions? We need to curb their ability to campaign in swing seats”.

    Trade unions have taken an active role in democratic elections in this country for over a hundred years. Are we seriously suggesting that we should restrict their ability to do so in the future?

    By all means let us pass laws to democratise the trade unions. We should not pass laws to bar trade unions from democracy”

  24. 24
    Llareggub says:

    So Samantha Cameron goes to jail if she mentions an opinion to her husband, David?

    Let’s say you’re having a quick pint in a pub in Westminster, when — bloody hell! — your MP walks in and orders a Guiness. You’ve always wanted to speak to him about the state of education, and how you think it should be resolved. Now’s your big chance. So off you go for a little word in his shell-like and … the police charge in and drag you away.

    That’s all lobbying is! it’s nothing very exceptional. In business, the same activity is called “networking”. It’s just people using their personal relationships to exercise influence. We all do it, daily.

  25. 25
    Demetrius says:

    Simply break the eardrums of all politicians, blind them so they cannot read, and cut off their fingers so they can’t read brail, and their feet so they can’t tapdance in morse code. Then give them a kick in the bollocks/snatch.

  26. 26
    How to win friends while annihilating people says:

    Every stone needs to take out at least two birds in these austere times.
    o’Maha, Mac Cane, et Al are all itching to fire off a few missiles, and they don’t much care who they take out in the process.
    o’Maha detests the UK and treats us like dirt.
    If there wasn’t anyone to lobby in Westminster then there wouldn’t be a parasitic and undemocratic lobbying industry.
    So …..
    what we need is someone to persuade o’Maha to suitably retarget his missiles and then press the button.
    What’s not to like ?
    It could surely be done in …. say just over two months time.

  27. 27
    Julie, very important lobbyist, says:

    I am a very important lobbyist and I am right behind Dave on all this – he is simply simply marvelous in everything he does. These swivel-eyed loony organisations should keep their mouths shut and let proper lobbyists such as myself and my darling husband get on with the job.

  28. 28
    History Buff says:

    Probably Third, but really all the once sacrosanct protections against the soft totalitarianism of the state are already gone or circumscribed to the people’s disadvantage.

  29. 29
    roger says:

    Charities don’t want us to realise how they have changed, some have totally lost their ‘primary purpose’ and become just political special interest cliques.
    The Lobbying bill should be tougher, not watered down or lost.

  30. 30
    roger says:

    No, lobbying is like sex, if money changes hands it’s prostitution, if it’s free then it’s love.

  31. 31

    Stockport LibDem Councillor Iain Roberts thinks this lobbying bill is a jolly good idea!

  32. 32
    Blowing Whistles says:

    Oh Please ….

    When are the political and journalistic tribes of fools going to start citing ‘Freedom of Expression’

    rather than that b/s they use of freedom of speech?

    Self Deceiving cowed and craven bastards the lot of them.

  33. 33
    Displaced Brummie says:

    Yesterday some Labourite troglodyte was saying: “Well, why hasn’t the Tax Payers’ Alliance or the Adam Smith Institute said anything about it?”

    They’ll ignore the above, of course.

  34. 34
    Jimmy says:

    “Well that’s pretty comprehensive…”

    Aren’t they all the same people?

  35. 35
    Jimmy says:

    “Trade unions have taken an active role in democratic elections in this country for over a hundred years. Are we seriously suggesting that we should restrict their ability to do so in the future?”

    Fair play to him but that is precisely what his party wants to do. He should try and keep up.

  36. 36
    Anonymous says:

    Bunch of rightwing nutters with a couple of oddballs.

  37. 37
    gerrydorrian66 says:

    Let think tanks, charities etc publish their thoughts and findings in newspapers. I’m sure politicians read them.

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