Civil society groups speak out against attempts to silence them
Friends of the Earth and ten other not-for-profit organisations, including Amnesty International and ActionAid, have urged the government to protect our democracy from its own damaging policies.
In an open letter to Culture Minister, Matthew Hancock, sent today (5 July) the organisations describe how the Lobbying Act is preventing organisations from representing their supporters on key issues and harming their ability to support local democratic engagement.
The 11 not-for-profits are calling on the government to recognise the impact of these damaging policies on civil society groups and to create an environment where organisations are able to speak out on important issues.
Recent research by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation found that 51% of organisations reported that the Lobbying Act affected their ability to achieve their organisational mission or visions, and that the Lobbying Act is leading to the loss of voices of experience in political debate.
Dave Timms, Friends of the Earth Head of Politics, said:
"We'd like to think of the UK as a robust democracy, but government policies like the Lobbying Act are silencing civil society groups who speak for the most vulnerable in society.
“It seems that the government is struggling to move beyond the Victorian notion of charity; where you can give a hungry person food but cannot speak out to change policies that would have stopped them from being hungry in the first place.
“It is hypocritical for the government to be celebrating National Democracy Week whilst continuing to stand by policies that are so undemocratic.
“A strong democracy needs a strong civil society. It’s time the government worked with us, rather than against us and replaced the Lobbying Act with rules that limit the influence of those with money on elections, while protecting genuine civil society voices.”