“a free, fair and open society“ – some problems with the Lobbying Bill

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Michael Carchrie Campbell (Photo: Michael Carchrie Campbell)

Michael Carchrie Campbell MCIPR (Photo: Michael Carchrie Campbell)

Today, I wrote to the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Belfast East, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party to ask her to not support the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Bill which is currently before the House of Commons. My reasons for doing so are outlined below.

According to the Parliamentary website, the Bill

  • introduces a statutory register of consultant lobbyists and establishes a Registrar to enforce the registration requirements
  • regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties
  • strengthens the legal requirements placed on trade unions in relation to their obligation to keep their list of members up to date.

These sound like three good things to be doing: until you examine it more closely. Continue reading

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Northern Ireland deserves better

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Liberal Democrats Yes to Fairer VotesTogether with activists from Yes to Fairer Votes members of the Liberal Democrats in Northern Ireland will be attending the event at Belfast City Hall at 1pm.

Last May three of Belfast’s four MPs were elected on a minority mandate, without the support of a majority of their constituents. More than 70,000 votes were wasted, cast for a candidate who never stood a chance of representing their supporters.

Local party chair, Michael Carchrie Campbell said:

Today I am proud to be attending with party colleagues the event that shows that Belfast is joining fifty towns and cities across the country to help win an historic victory for all voters in the United Kingdom. It’s an argument we can’t afford to lose.

The choice in May is between change and business as usual. In Belfast the status quo is not an option.

Further updates to come.

Violent scenes at Belfast Tuition Fees protest condemned

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Protestors and police clash as Translink Metro is broad to standstill during Protest on Tuition Fees. Pic © 2010 Michael Carchrie Campbell

Protestors and police clash as Translink Metro is broad to standstill during the protest on Tuition Fees in Donegall Square, Belfast on December 9th, 2010. Pic: © 2010 Michael Carchrie Campbell

This afternoon Northern Ireland Liberal Democrat Chair Michael Carchrie Campbell was in Belfast city centre and witnessed the student protests outside City Hall at close quarters. Speaking a short time after leaving Donegall Square, Michael said:

“Whilst I support the students’ right to have their point heard, and indeed agree with them that this tripling of tuition fees is neither fair nor progressive, I have concerns about the way I witnessed ‘protestors‘ going about it.

“I saw missiles being thrown at PSNI officers as well as chants directed at them that are not acceptable as Northern Ireland seeks to create a truly shared future.

“I thank the PSNI for their work in marshalling the protest while looking out for the wellbeing of shoppers and workers going about their business in the city centre.

“The violent scenes from the ‘protestors’ at City Hall this afternoon are totally unacceptable and put members of the police and public at risk. I condemn those who have used this protest on student fees for violent ends: they are not helping the cause of those students who need their concerns to be taken into account at Westminster today, as our MPs gather to debate and vote on this important issue.”