38 Degrees is facing its biggest ever threat as Government tried to make People Power illegal.
Can anyone doubt that the UK is turnong into a classic Police State where any dissent is met with persecution prosection and jail
government’s rushing through a new law which, if it passes, will stop
us running the type of campaigns which have made us who we are.  The campaigns which have saved our forests, fought privatisation in the NHS, and defeated the snoopers' charter.  The campaigns which have seen 1.7 million of us act together, locally and nationally, for over four years. In fact, if the new law passes, and we continue campaigning as we do now, the office team could even risk being sent to jail. 
The law's called the 'Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning
and Trade Union Administration Bill'. And if it goes through without any
changes, it’ll wipe out our campaigning by slashing what we can spend during the year before elections. Not just general elections, either. Local elections, European elections and referendums, too. 
But if we act now and we act together, we could make the government reverse their plan.
Chloe Smith, the minister responsible for pushing this law through
parliament, is coming under more and more pressure to re-think. If hundreds of thousands of us speak up now, we could swing her decision.
Can you email Chloe Smith now to tell her why it's important that we're
able to campaign during elections, and what you think of her plans to
stifle us? There’s no template email, because it’s really important that Chloe Smith hears your personal reasons for being a member of 38 Degrees. Anything you write to her now is better than her not hearing from us at all.
Click here to get started:
People power is at the heart of 38 Degrees. We don't spend too much,
but our campaigns do cost money. Without being able to spend - employing
staff, buying billboards, or printing leaflets about where politicians
stand on local issues - we just won’t be able to make the issues
which matter to us all, like the NHS and fair taxation, top of the
agenda at the next election.
The three main political parties have a combined membership of around
433,000.  There are 1.7 million of us. Per member, the parties would
be able to spend over £130 - 38 Degrees would be able to spend around
23p.  Put simply, this will make it hard to influence the next
election, and every one after that.
Can you email Chloe Smith now?
It’s not clear whether this law is just badly written, or if the
government is simply fed up of being criticised - but it’s a huge
threat. And it doesn’t only affect us: from big charities to tiny
single-issue campaigns, the sector is scared and furious.
The government’s trying to slip this through with as little fuss as
possible. Not only did they introduce it on the day before MPs knocked
off for the summer, they also tied it into a whole raft of other new
rules on lobbying. And some of the new rules, like the register of
lobbyists, are things we’ve been pushing for, although they’re not yet
strong enough.  We still hope to campaign for tighter controls on
dodgy lobbying - but before that, we have to fight to make sure we're
not silenced during elections.
Chloe Smith needs to know that whether by accident or intention, this law isn’t fit for purpose. Can you email her now?
It's a really worrying time. The potential impact of this law is only just becoming clear.
The Cabinet Office says it won’t affect us.  But experts we've
spoken to, from lawyers to charity chiefs, are telling us it will. This
threatens the entire way 1.7 million of us campaign together.
It’s not just us. Amazing people-powered campaigns like HOPE not hate's
fight against the BNP in Barking and Dagenham, or Make Poverty History,
just wouldn't be possible during election periods. Right when ordinary
people should be able to have the most impact.
It's no exaggeration to say this law will make it easier for registered political parties like the BNP to campaign without challenge.
The government's doing its best to rush this law through without consultation or feedback.
If we act together now, we can let them know that 38 Degrees is more
than just a name - we're a movement of 1.7 million people committed to
campaigning for a better, fairer Britain. We won't remain silent while they try to stop us.
Can you email Chloe Smith? Our movement may depend on it.
Ian, Susannah, Blanche and the entire 38 Degrees team
PS: These proposals are complicated, and a lot of the detail still
isn’t clear. The office team doesn’t have all the answers - we’re still
talking to experts and other organisations. In the meantime, we’ve done
our best to provide some clarity in the Frequently Asked Questions and
Notes sections below.
What should I write to Chloe Smith?
Perhaps you could tell her about the first email you wrote to an MP, or
the first meeting you attended with other 38 Degrees members. Or
perhaps why you think charities, campaigning groups and movements like
ours which help people do these things should not be restricted?
Or you could explain your concerns about what could happen if we
couldn’t campaign together against the privatisation of the NHS, or
against parties such as the BNP? Or - you could just tell her why you're
a member of 38 Degrees.
What are the proposals called, and where can I read more about them?
The plans are called the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party
Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. You can read the Bill
documents and watch the progress of the legislation here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/transparencyoflobbyingnonpartycampaigningandtradeunionadministration/documents.html
How will it affect our campaigning?
Since the proposals were published, the office team have been meeting
with experts and other organisations to discuss the impact of these
rules on our campaigning. They’ve indicated that although a lot of the
detail is still unclear, they believe the risks to our campaigning are
The law the government has put forward will very strictly limit
spending on campaigning during the year before an election. And whereas
current limits only count the costs of campaign materials, the new rules
would include nearly everything campaigners do, e.g. staff time,
travel, and media work. The new limits could stop us from being able to
run billboards, or to mobilise in the way that we have during our
successful campaigns to save our forests and stop the snoopers' charter.
What happens if 38 Degrees breaks the rules?
Breaking the rules on spending is a criminal offence. Ultimately,
there’s a chance that members of the office team could be sent to jail
if the rules were broken. Other organisations are facing the same
threat, meaning that the ‘chilling’ effect on campaigning by charities
and groups across the country is likely to be huge.
What do other groups think?
There’s widespread frustration. Charities and voluntary organisations are coming together to fight against the plans.
The National Council of Voluntary Organisations and HOPE not hate are
just two of the organisations which have already spoken out publicly
about the proposals.
Read NCVO’s statement here: http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2013/08/18/transparency-of-lobbying-bill-unintended-consequences-or-trojan-horse/
And HOPE not hate’s here: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/article/2976/the-government-is-trying-to-gag-hope-not-hate
Why is the government doing this?
No one’s certain. Some people are saying that a lot of this is
unintended, and just bad, rushed drafting - but we’ve heard that before
during our Section 75 campaign. Others say that it suits the coalition
parties to silence campaigning organisations who have run campaigns
which have caused them embarrassment in the past - such as the NUS’
tuition fees campaign and The Royal British Legion’s Armed Forces
Covenant campaign. And of course, our campaign to save the NHS. Some
think it’s because some MPs don’t even believe charities should be able
to campaign for policy change which relates to their charitable
What else can we do?
The office team will be working hard over the next few days and weeks
planning what we can do to help save our movement as we know it. If you
have any ideas, please get in touch and let us know your thoughts by
 Parliament UK: Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14:
 38 Degrees blog: Great news: government agree to protect our forests:
NHS legal advice:
We won!: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2013/04/26/we-won/
 Electoral Commission: Guidance on preventing and detecting electoral malpractice, pg 104:
 Third Sector: Lobbying bill will hinder charity campaigning and fundraising, NCVO warns:
 BBC: Can UK political parties be saved from extinction?:
N.B. These figures are from 2011. Recent reports suggest the numbers
have declined even more since then, with the Conservative Party now
reportedly having around 100,000 members:
 Electoral Commission: Party Campaign Expenditure:
 Politics website: ‘Hilariously bad’: Lobbyists mock toothless statutory register:
 CivilSociety website: Charity lawyer warns new lobbying bill poses 'existential threat to charity campaigning':