The Electoral Commission has written to Guido, ConservativeHome, LabourList and LibDemVoice to provide them with “guidance” to bring them into line with the Putinesque provisions of the new Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014.
Mark Ferguson at LabourList says
“It seems particularly bizarre (and that’s being generous) that there’s one law for “newspapers and periodicals” and another for “websites”. Perhaps the government are finding this new-fangled internet thing very confusing. We’re still working through what the most appropriate response is to this dreadful law – more worthy of a banana-Republic than a democracy – that clamps down on campaigning and free speech at a time when it’s needed most, election time. Whatever response we decide on though, we will not be submitting ourselves to any form of regulation that stops us from writing, reporting and commenting on the election campaign as we see fit.”
ConservativeHome’s editor Paul Goodman tells Guido whilst sorrowfully shaking his head, that he feels the site has no alternative, given the terms of the Lobbying Act, but to “run some pieces by senior Labour MPs during the election campaign”.
After ringing round it seems that other political blogs like the Spectator’s CoffeeHouse and PoliticalBetting.com have not being offered “guidance” by the Electoral Commission. Guido has written back to the Electoral Commission:
Dear Electoral Commission,
Thanks, but we’re not registering with you and
we’re not going to pay any attention to your rules.
Yours in freedom,
Editor Guido Fawkes’ Blog
Guido has no intention of registering with the Electoral Commission or reporting a penny of spending or anything else to them. This authoritarian law is a nonsense. If you read the guidance it should apply to newspapers. We haven’t just rejected statutory control of the printed press by one regulator for political control of digital media by another…
See: Electoral Commission letter in full [PDF]