‘At a time when Britain’s media lens remains firmly fixed on the outcome of the Scottish referendum, the UK government has quietly pushed through a Lobbying Act that critics claim is highly undemocratic.
Enshrined in law on Friday, the anti-Lobbying Bill raises serious concerns about an ever-increasing democratic deficit in the United Kingdom. The legislation seeks to impose stringent limits on the amount of money organizations can allocate towards political lobbying during electoral campaigns.
Following its addition to Britain’s statue books, trade unionists and rights activists throughout the nation have condemned the bill, which considerably compromises the political leverage of think tanks, charities, NGOs, trade unions, and political campaigners throughout the UK.
Aptly dubbed the Gagging Act, the bill is also set to drastically reduce the amount of money such organizations can spend on newspaper advertising, while demanding they are held accountable for every penny they spend – even on postage stamps.
But no such restrictions will be placed on electioneering propaganda published in newspapers or on political parties’ election spending. In light of this fact, critics argue the bill is de-facto pro-establishment, allowing UK political parties, particularly the Tories, to continue drawing millions from corporate and financial elites that tend to donate in pursuit of a very specific set of political and economic interests.
The bill surfaced as Parliament broke for the summer and was debated when MPs returned. Because it effectively silences trade unions and campaign groups on every side of the political spectrum, it has been described by the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as a “chilling attack on free speech.” ‘