LibDems won't support Digital Economy Bill at all

W00t! After pressure from party members, MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates, the UK Liberal Democrats have unequivocally withdrawn support for the Digital Rights Bill, a sweeping, 24,000+ word bill that the Labour government are trying to push through Parliament with only a few hours' debate. Previously, the LibDems had supported the idea of the bill going into "wash up" (a streamlined procedure for passing laws without detailed scrutiny or public debate), provided that controversial proposals (such as kicking families off the net if they were accused of infringement) would be referred to another process later on. After public outcry from within the party, the front-bench changed its mind, and the party whip has said, "I have told the Govt we won't support the Digital Economy Bill as drafted. There is not enough time for MPs to examine it in detail." Well done, LibDems!

Lib Dems to fight Digital Economy Bill over 'wash-up'


  1. Congratulations – now the bill will still pass, but with even less input or modification from sane people.

    Well, at least everyone still gets to feel self-righteous and ideologically pure. Victory!

  2. This is excellent news. The Digital Economy Bill is full of measures that are ignorant, illiberal, draconian, unworkable, or all of the above!

    I’m very proud of my party living up to its name, standing up for our freedoms.

    There is a real challenge now to MPs in other parties: will they take a principled stand with the LibDems, or cave in to their party whips.

    Bridget Fox
    LibDem Parliamentary candidate
    Islington South & Finsbury

  3. HereticGestalt: Nope. In legislation, there is no such thing as ‘even less’ than zero.

    And I feel self-righteous all the time; my government’s contribution to that is arguable at best.

    But my local LibDem just got my vote…
    (It had been pretty close; all of my local candidates are about equally good, and bad in similar areas…)

  4. It’s hard to shake the feeling that a lotta politicians go along with this kinda Big Media scripted codswallop until just after the cheque clears, at which time Vop Populi suddenly becomes audible again, letting ’em scoop the cash *and* represent the electorate simultaneously.

    Either that, or there was a mass brainslug die off overnight.

  5. @HereticGestalt

    There’s no time in the ‘wash-up’ for any significant modification. Possibly very minor stuff but otherwise it’s a take it or leave it exercise on the entire bill.

  6. So what are the ramifications of this? Is the bill dead without Lib Dem support, or do they need a significant failure of MPs to turn out and vote for it, or some rebel backbenchers to jump on the Lib Dem wagon?

    Seems ironic to me that the Lib Dem lords are swallowing the lobbyist bullshit, and the MPs are set against it. What are the actual chances of this getting past both houses?

    It’s times like this that I wish we had a constitution that wasn’t written on the back of several hundred beer-soaked napkins collected over the last 400 years.

  7. So the effect is that the bill passes anyway, but without removing or even modifying ANY of the worst provisions.

    This is a disaster.

  8. So the effect is that the bill passes anyway, but without removing or even modifying ANY of the worst provisions.

    This is a disaster.

  9. This bill is a farce, but so too is the wash-up procedure. As well as overhauling MP’s expenses we should also call for the wash-up procedure to be scrapped because it goes against democracy and proper representation of the people.

    I no longer trust MP’s ability to abide by the laws of common sense, or to put the peoples best interests before their own, so they’d better start improving soon or else.

  10. I understand that wash-up procedures require a certain degree of unanimity to work, i.e. the LibDem formally opposing the bill should be enough to stop it. As long as objections are put on paper somewhere, then the bill should not pass. Doing otherwise would open a can of worms and result in horrible publicity for the government (just before a General Election they are already expected to lose).

  11. I have read the “wash-up general guidance” in section 1.1 here:

    I’ve only skimmed over the document, and I’m not a lawyer or politician, but from what I can gather nothing can be added to the Bill, but articles can be removed.

    I’m going to continue searching for information on exactly how this secretive “wash-up” process works. The fact that it’s shrouded in secrecy is a indictment on this country’s “democratic process”.

  12. I’m not a parliamentarian, and the UK blocks access to government documents outside the UK, so I have to admit I have no direct knowledge of this. But I do know I have read MPs talking about removing provisions in ‘wash-up’ on the grounds that they are controversial. Perhaps my assumption is faulty, but since the bill itself is going to pass ‘wash-up’. It seems clear that the way to remove provisions when you can’t block the bill is to object to the provisions not the bill. Also, this is the version of the situation that was stated by the LibDem leadership and NOT contested by any of the people who demanded a broad objection to the bill in any of the venues I read.

  13. The votes are not yet cast on the DE Bill – Anon is right, no matter what the libdems do they cannot amend this bill – at this stage all reasonable people can do is oppose it.

    This is especially important for UK voters who live in non-Libdem constituencies. You can use the site to politely explain that if they vote for the DE bill you will not vote for them in the election.

    Believe me, that kind of message speaks powerfully to our MPs. If you can spare 10 minutes to write a short note now would be a really good time to do it.


Comments are closed.