Yesterday the Government announced its plans to introduce a system of state press regulation. Today, the Lobbying Bill continues its sorry passage through the House of Commons.
Other than their capacity to make me deeply depressed, what else do these two idiotic proposals have in common?
They are both the product of the same kind of muddled thinking.
The Lobbying Bill seeks to regulate not only the political activities of established trade unions. Almost any campaign group – indeed, a village preservation society – will find itself required to comply before expressing entirely legitimate political opinions. The sort of local pressure groups that are starting to spring up on Facebook all the time will be drawn into the ambit of state regulation.
At the precise moment that the internet democratises communication and opens political campaigning up to everyone, along comes a new law that will try to subject all political activism to a system of state compliance. While the boundaries between formal and informal political players are being blurred, incredulously a minister justified this Bill by telling me that politics is properly the preserve of the established political parties.