Matt Taylor, the prospective member of parliament for Brighton Kemptown, was amongst a group of about twenty people to attend a 38 Degree meeting at the Royal Oak pub in Brighton, to discuss the Gagging Law last night.

38 degreeBilled as the perfect opportunity for people in Brighton to talk about the Gagging Law, and to think about ways to beat it, Becky and Andrew from the 38 Degree team explained and answered questions about the looming Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.

38 Degrees, (a charitable organization and the UK’s biggest petition campaigning community, with over 2 million members), has recently boasted of a victory, alongside other interested parties, against the Gagging Law by securing a pause in the law for six weeks.

Becky said at the meeting, “We must build on the momentum and continue the pressure to stop the Gagging Law from happening.”

gaggedThe Gagging Law is a plan by the government to hugely increase the rules and restrictions on community groups, charities and campaigners, over what they can say and spend a year before an election

38 Degrees argue that a cap of just £390,000 to spend during the year before an election, down from the £1 million mark it is now, is simply undemocratic and a nail in the coffin for free speech.

Charities in effect will be able to give a person a loaf of bread but cannot ask why the person has no bread.

simonkirbyMatt Taylor was the only prospective candidate for Brighton Kemptown to attend the meeting. Conservative MP Simon Kirby is on record to have voted in favour of the Gagging Law, while Nancy Platts from the Labour party and Davy Jones from the Green Party have been conspicuous by their absence, though to be fair, they weren’t specifically invited!

Matt Taylor said, “I would never vote for any bill that inhibits the people’s right to expression. The Gagging Law is a criminal bill intended to cover-up the criminal activities of the government. The work of 38 Degrees is invaluable in the fight to hold public officials to account. I support 38 Degrees 100% and urge everyone to contact Simon Kirby and Mike Weatherly to let them know your feelings about the Gagging Law.”

Becky and Andrew from 38 Degrees plan to hold a Pan-Brighton meeting at St Mary’s Church in Kemptown on 9th January 2014, from 8pm to 9.30pm, where they are put their case directly to MP’s and the public.

caroline lucasmike weatherlyWhile Brighton Pavilion’s MP Caroline Lucas and Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby have agreed to attend the meeting, Mike Weatherly MP for Hove and Portslade has answered in no uncertain terms ‘I will not attend any Hove meeting’. In fact during the meeting it was revealed that Mike Weatherly has ignored over 300 enquires from his constituents on the subject of the Gagging Law. It is yet to be seen if Mike Weatherly will attend the Pan-Brighton planned for 9th January 2014, though he has been invited to do so.

In light of the marginal seats which Simon Kirby and Mike Weatherly hold, 38 Degrees hope the Pan-Brighton meeting will convince them that it’s in their best interest to pull their support from such an ill prepared and thought-out bill.

Becky from 38 Degrees reminds us that Simon Kirby takes his problems directly to David Cameron and the Chief Whip, which makes him the perfect MP to target.

During the meeting Simon Kirby was described to be “skilled at arguing the government’s line” but a” slime-ball underneath.”

For further information about 38 Degrees and the Gagging Law, check out their website at http://www.38degrees.org.uk.

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