OK, the new lobbying bill is almost certainly wrongheaded, from what I can tell — but even more wrongheaded has been some of the reaction to it.
You expect hysterical fact-free scaremongering from 38Degrees — that’s what they do, the whole purpose of their existence is to be wrong about everything and make things worse — but I’ve been being spammed today by Hope Not Hate.
Hope Not Hate are meant to be a single-issue campaign against fascism, but now they’re calling for a protest outside the next surgery run by John Leech, who the more astute among you will have noticed is not, in fact, a fascist.
The reason for this is that he voted for the first reading of the bill, and Hope Not Hate have decided that this makes him a bigger enemy than the BNP or EDL scum they’re meant to be fighting.
I presume they’re calling for similar demonstrations outside other non-fascist MPs’ surgeries, making it more difficult for those MPs’ constituents to get the help they need…I got the email about Leech because I did some stuff for Hope Not Hate when I lived in his constituency (before deciding there were better uses of my time).
Just to be clear — a vote in the first reading says *nothing* about what an MP thinks of the bill as written. All it says is that they think the principle of the bill is worth debating — and even those organisations most adamantly opposed to the bill as it stands are in favour of *some* form of anti-lobbying action. From what I’m hearing the expectation is that, as so often in this Parliament, a select committee will make, if not a silk purse then at least a purse of some description from this particular sow’s ear.
So it’s perfectly OK for an MP to vote for this in the first reading even if they agree it’s flawed, and protesting outside the surgery of a backbench MP who isn’t on the select committee in question (and who has one of the best records in Parliament on this kind of issue, as it happens) is stupid, counterproductive, and does literally nothing to further either Hope Not Hate’s primary goal of stopping fascism or their apparent new secondary goal of stopping this legislation from passing.
Again, I don’t support the legislation, but harassing random MPs and their constituents is just such a STUPID method of opposing it that I can’t begin to comprehend the thinking.