The political activism group 38 Degrees has warned that it faces its “biggest ever threat”, in the form of a bill being passed through parliament which it says could hugely impact the future of its and others’ campaigning.
The transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill, which was introduced to parliament the day before ministers left for the summer recess, poses restrictions on the spending habits of campaign groups.
38 Degrees, which has 1.7 million members across the UK, has previously campaigned on issues such as climate change, NHS privatisation, tax avoidance and rising tuition fees.
Another campaign group, Hope not Hate, spent £319,321 protesting against the British National Party (BNP) during the 2010 general election. Like 38 Degrees, it claims that if the bill were to become law, it would “severely restrict the ability of organisations like Hope not Hate to function and combat fascism, racism and other forms of extremism.”
Hope not Hate claims that its overall spending budget in the 12 months running up to an election would be reduced by 70% to £390,000 across the UK, whereas political parties such as the BNP would be able to spend £18.96m in the same period.
In an email to members, 38 Degrees said, “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.”
The campaign group, whose name derives from the angle at which the incidence of a human-caused avalanche is greatest, is encouraging people to write to the minister responsible for the proposed law, Chloe Smith, in an effort to swing her decision.
The Cabinet Office said it was unavailable to comment on the matter.