I have written today about the enormous threat to free speech that the government is intending to rush through Parliament in early September in the form of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.
This is actually amusing. For he’s claiming that the new law will restrict his right to free speech. Which of course is entirely untrue. It’s actually restricting his right to association. He can say anything at all he damn well likes: the limitations are upon who he works alongside when it is said. You’d rather hope that someone would get right which of their rights is being restricted.
But it gets ever so much better too:
As a chartered accountant, blogger and campaigner for tax reform – two of whose ideas (on a general anti-avoidance principle and country-by-country reporting) have been at least partly adopted by your government – I will be potentially barred from publishing my work, which is partly funded by donations given with the express intention that I seek to change public opinion on matters relating to tax justice, unless in the year prior to an election I:
1) register as a ‘recognised third party’;
2) comply with the requirements of your proposed law;
3) report the donations I receive in an onerous fashion;
4) do not cooperate with others to publish opinions without risk of substantial additional obligations and penalties arising.
Yes, that’s correct. The man whose entire political life is built on forcing everyone into transparency is now arguing that he should not have to be transparent. The man who insists that the groups of people voluntarily associating as companies have to tell everyone all about what they do is now insisting that people who voluntarily associate not as companies don’t have to tell anyone anything. And finally, the man who dismisses the costs and effort of the onerous transparency demands he makes on others seeks to be excused having to be transparent because of the costs and effort associated with being transparent.
That really is gorging on the gateaux while still insisting it’s there and whole and on the sideboard, isn’t it?