A Tory MP was so scared by the prospect of coming face-to-face with his own constituents that he called the police to attend a petition handover by a small group — including an 81 year-old pensioner. No more than a dozen Croydon South residents wanted to hand over signatures against the Lobbying Bill collected by 38 Degrees. But their MP Richard Ottaway (or ‘Sir Richard’ after the New Year’s honours) had police standing guard while he refused to speak to them — even though they had made an appointment to see him.
As Scrapbook suggested this afternoon, the Conservative candidate in Eastleigh has once again been the only candidate from a mainstream party not to show up for a hustings. This time it’s the 38 Degrees one.
As with Radio 5 last week, Maria Hutchings has been “empty chaired”. A placard with her face on it has been placed where she should be sitting. Apparently the place is packed:
Standing room only down in Eastleigh, no chairs left (except for one on the stage)
The latest edition of the New Statesman lists Political Scrapbook amongst “the online activists who have the coalition on the run“. Alongside 38 Degrees, Change.org and Avazz, the feature highlights our role in the viral campaigns against News Of The World and the government’s Workfare schemes.
Chief political commentator Rafael Behr quotes one MP as remarking “you start to shit yourself” when the likes of 38 Degrees direct constituents to action, while one parliamentarian has even attempted to keep their taxpayer-funded parliament.uk email addresses private:
“An MP has complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office about websites publishing his email address, on the grounds that his privacy has been invaded.”
Another MP has taken a retro approach to communications:
“Another has reportedly deactivated his official email account.”
Meanwhile, Scrapbook is also described as a “frequent thorn in the side of right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes“.
Collecting petitions in public is a basic form of democratic engagement. But under current law this is largely prohibited in so-called quasi-public space owned by private companies. A group ventured to Birmingham’s Bullring to test the response time of yellow-vested enforcers:
The upcoming Freedom Bill is an opportunity for the government to address this and restore the right to peaceful protest.