I have been shocked to learn of 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.
The Government basically want to make lobbyists register and declare who donates to them, which is an intolerable idea because it might affect me.
So here is what I have written:
Dear Chloe Smith
I am writing to you to express my concern about Part 2 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.
In 1946 my grandfather died having personally and single-handedly killed Hitler.
I always presumed he died for a reason. Yes, he died from friendly fire sixteen months after hostilities ended.
But I believe that reason was specifically to defend Article 19 of the United Nations declaration of human rights. As he lay dying he was heard to utter: “Tell my unborn grandson that I died stopping Hitler creating a register of lobbyists which would surely be against his human rights.”
Chloe Smith, I believe you are now intending to deny me that right. If passed, this bill will quite specifically deny me the right to impart my opinions without having to declare who has paid me to express that opinion.
This adds to the number of occasions which my human rights have been abused by The State. I am referring, of course, to the numerous times I have been denied appearances on Newsnight and the Today programme. I am sure you must be familiar with these travesties.
This is going to have a massive impact on my life by making me have to fill in some forms. I will have to register as a ‘recognised third party’ and people will have to report the donations paid to me.
Filling in forms and reporting financial information is something my professional career as an accountant and tax expert has not prepared me for.
By all means Chloe Smith, make a register of those individuals who promote neoliberalism or sophistry, but to include me on any register is completely unfair!
I am used to performing work in a slapdash and casual manner. Candidly, I cannot be bothered to set aside the time to be transparent about my own work which centres on campaigning for transparency by other people.
Chloe Smith, I wonder, is this your real intention? This entire Bill appears to be some sort of ad hominem attack on me. Chloe Smith, do you really wish to deny me my freedom to speak without fear of being dismissed as being a shill of the unions?
It would seem so to me. And I am a massive legal expert, so I should know.
More worryingly, Chloe Smith, I realise that this does not only apply to my work. A load of organisations I get money off can’t be bothered to fill in these forms and be transparent either. So that will impact on the amount of money I have available to spend on model trains.
Is that what you really intend Chloe Smith?
I look forward to receiving a personal reply from you Chloe Smith on this issue.
Regular readers should be well aware that I have not actually bothered to read the Bill. But when has that stopped me being paid to comment on such things before?