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Can you hear the people protest?

By Emma Jacobs

Wednesday 7 January 2015 Student Journalists

The Lobbying Act has restricted organisations' campaigning voice in the run up to the general election, but NUS Journalist Emma Jacobs is confident this will not stop students having their voices heard.

On 30 January 2014 the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act became law. Not only does this legislation carry a hefty title but leaves charities and non-party organizations in a difficult position.

The law claims to 'regulate more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties.' In simple terms, it attempts to silence those who are often trying to better society. Gone are the days of unions being able to stand up for the rights of their members.

Each organization has a virtual ‘budget’. For each piece of propaganda or information (even tweets) that could persuade voters towards or against specific parties, organizations are ‘charged’. If they run over their budget they are faced with a fine.

This may not be a big issue for large organizations with a sufficient pot of money for them to dip into. The real implications are for smaller organizations. Surely, a law should not stand in the way of a charity’s work? If that is the case, how have protests against the law not been plentiful and widely stretched throughout different warps of society?

While the aim of the law is to avoid non-party specific organizations swaying votes, the innocent are being disadvantaged. This is a completely legitimate premise on which to pass legislation.

However, what is not comprehendible is why it has to effect organizations that are not trying to sway votes towards any particular party. How far can this censorship go? Alarmingly, so far the extent has been vast. Campaigners have also faced the wrath of having their voices silenced in other ways. Police tactics such as 'kettling' deter people from politics, particularly the protesting element.

Despite having people try to silence our voices, we must resist. They can try as hard as they wish to neutralize politics, but it will take more than legislation to silence our generation.


@ESophieJ

Hi, I’m Emma. I’m Deputy Editor of Kettle Magazine, a vlogger for Sky’s Stand Up Be Counted and a blogger. I’m currently in sixth form and hope to go on to study at university. I’m very interested in politics and have a tendency to get a bit too into debates in class. I’m also an English geek and love reading, writing and going to poetry recitals at the poetry café in London’s Covent Garden.

I look forward to exploring the theme of community within the student world. It’s where we live and what occupies our thoughts during boring classes and lectures. I know the struggles of balancing sixth form/college, friends and sleep whist living at home. The government isn’t doing enough to help us and so many social issues arise in our lives. NUS offers students a fantastic platform, now it’s time for those in power to listen to us. Let’s hope May 2015 brings change.