What you can (still) do about the DE Bill.

The next working day  at the House of Commons, Tuesday, will see the DE Bill passed unamended, passed amended or put off until the next parliament.  I’ve blogposted about his below, and it’s obviously the case that the Bill should ideally be fully exposed to the formal scrutiny of the Committee Stage and then a Third Reading.  Arguments that the thing has been scrutinised in the Lords and that’s enough are daft, frankly, or what would ever be the point of bills going through the  Commons (i.e. that old elected bit)?

Thanks to Sinister in flikr

As far as amendments are concerned, the disconnection clause is a no-brainer.  Yet while there seem to be good arguments about other parts, much of the stuff I see on Twitter is mainly sloganising amongst and between folk who are pretty much subject-matter experts.  I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, but it’s simply a fact that with most MP’s thinking about the election (bear in mind the Bill will be competing with a likely General Election announcement that day) and not necessarily prioritising the DE Bill anyway, sloganising will simply be ignored by most.  I’ve seen folk on Twitter complaining that they’ve had formulaic letters from some MPs, but if they’re a reply to formulaic complaints (and I’m not saying everyone has sent formulaic letters!) then you can really can’t blame the MP.  MPs get a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff and we tend to concentrate our efforts on issues where constituents have contacted us and placed their concerns into their own localised context.  I appreciate that it might seem odd to suggest that the DE Bill should be seen in a localised way, but MPs start with their constituents’ concerns then generalise out to how these concerns interact with legislation. That’s really the essence of our job.

IMHO, if people want their concerns heard properly, a petition on the Downing Street website, or formulaic tweets, really aren’t going to do it. Although reasoned tweets are certainly worthwhile and can be sent here to any MP.  People really need to contact their local MP and follow through on Tuesday morning.  Decent MP’s will realise folk deserve a fast answer to something which is imminent that day.  But more important than an answer is a chance to influence how they’re thinking.  Most MPs will be sensitive to the lack of scrutiny of such a huge bill in the Commons if constituents raise it with them.  It’s obviously also worth raising your concerns about a specific clause.  Crucially, ask them to attend and make an intervention during the Second Reading and make their concerns known in advance.

Potentially, there’s a lot of support for either a significant amendment (I’ve flagged the disconnection clause above) or for a delay altogether. But party politics will now, of course,  come into it big style.  The Lib Dems have, opportunistically at this late stage, decided to oppose the bill although it’s not clear what changes they want.  Labour and the Tories want it to pass.  In the latter case, it’s because most of the bill is necessary and fine and we all know problems can be revisited using Statutory Instruments (SIs, see my post below).  But of course for anything significant to change at all it needs MPs of all parties (most still don’t tweet, remember) to be alerted to the strength of feeling about the bill.

I’m going to send a note to all of my colleagues for Tuesday morning and follow up with as many conversations during the day as I can.  There are quite a few sympathetic MPs already.  Then there’s the Second Reading itself.  But the more folk who contact their own MP the better.  So it’s pretty much up to you all in that respect.

This is a pretty long post – better to get it out than spend more time making it shorter, I reckon.

There it is.

Thanks to Sinister  from flikr for the piccy.

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11 Comments

  1. The Lib Dems are far from being opportunistic are responding to the view of conference who threw into focus some of the concerns re-disconnection without redress or proof for one. They are responding to the people, by asking for full scrutiny. There is a block of Lib Dem PPCs that I believe is currently bigger than the parliamentary party and more IT savvy that are also presuising our MPs to request full scrutiny.

    As you said in a previous blog post, and indeed there, there is a lot of scrutiny required from the elected chamber. Why can’t all parties agree to revisit this in the next session. If as you say the election is to be called on Tuesday. You may say there is alot that is fine in the bill, but what about the bits that are not. I would rather these were scutinised in a proper, ful third reading than be dealt with through Statutory Instruments.

    Don’t wash up so important and controversial a move as parts of the Digital Economy Bill.

    • Stephen,I know you have to support the Lib Dem line as a parly candidate. Mainly joking, and I know you’ve had strong views on the Bill from the start. I don’t doubt that Lib Dems were mobilised on this for conference, and it’d be cynical of me to think that didn’t have its effect. And I do try not to be cynical, honest guv. Of course I welcome the Lib Dems’ late change of heart. I really do. But it’ll be Labour and the Tories who decide in the end and it’s critical that as many folk contact their Labour and Tory MPs for Tuesday.
      BTW, obviously as a Labour MP I think that the Lib Dems are the handmaidens of the anti-christ (Tories). Oh yes, and so are the SNP. Er, who else? The BNP are in a diff league, of course. Like Saddam to Satan in South Park’s ‘Bigger Longer and Uncut’. So there.

      • Eric is not the Lib Dems who are the handmaidens of the Tories, but New Labour. They came to power promising to keep their spending priorities and have since transmogrified into the Conservatives. It is time to to get rid of the Labservatives who are scared of making the real changes that the people are demanding, or to acknoweldge that the people have rights as they erode those one by one.

    • Worth mentioning a subsidiary point here, which I think will become important in future. On the whole, across the parties, the new MPs and PPC are more aware of the use of social media and alert to issues affected by the DE Bill more widely. That’ll certainly have an enormous impact upon how politics on the national stage is conducted in the near future. Twitter didn’t exist at the last GE so we’ve no idea what the next one will look like. More important, though, I think, is how folk communicate in between elections. Elections are just the bookends of government.

    • Er, so, a few days on, where are we? The Lib Dems are going to vote it through tonight. Not a single one turned up last night (Tuesday) to argue with their own front bencher. Poor Don Foster was the only person in the chamber arguing to keep clause 43 and fully accepted the right to disconnect without recourse to the courts.

  2. Ha Ha “BTW, obviously as a Labour MP I think that the Lib Dems are the handmaidens” they don’t have the qualifications as they can only slur people and deny them a right of response yet carry on blogging. I don’t agree with Eric and his party but at least he is willing to face his critics upfront as he has commitment to his cause.

    Why the rush to pass yet more bills before the inevitable election in the next few months surely a proper debate on the countries finances are far more important than trying to push through legislation for the sake of.

    • Ah, cynical highlander. Nice to see you. Trouble is that the logic of parly time is against everyone. It’s really not a conspiracy, as far as i can see, but it would be better left ’til next parly. If it is all done next week, the main thing’ll be to be pragmatic and get a big change on disconnection followed by some guarantees on SI in the new term. Outright opposition is easy, but there’s a lot of imperative and good stuff in there too. Viscerally, I feel like outright opposition but there would be losers in that too.

  3. […] Quickie (sort of) on DE Bill « ericjoycemp’s Blog – MPs don’t care if their constituents care about non-local issues apparently […]

    • Seems an odd thing to write, given that the whole string is about the DE Bill.

  4. As my local MP I was about to send you an email or tweet encouraging you to try and stop this bill getting railroaded through. Having seen this post, I’m delighted that I don’t have to! Please push this issue with your colleagues as much as possible. Keep it up!

    • Thanks, Neil. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I think the bill will most likely go through, but maybe with an amendment or two. Would be better for it to have full scrutiny, to say the least. I guess my main concern at the moment is the disconnection clause, but quite a lot of folk have come in with other concerns too. Quite a few constituents, too, which is a reminder that social media is good for both the local and the larger tapestry.


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