And so the Digital economy bill was passed into law yesterday 189 votes to 47 – you can find an analysis of those who voted no and also the text of the amendments and the full list of who voted. Interestingly my MP (Mark Lancaster) wasn’t there for this reading of the bill, although he was there on Tuesday for the previous reading of the bill – and I’m still waiting for him to reply to me email from last week.
This does seem to be a travesty of democracy that this bill has been passed given the amount of uproar there has been around it – wash-up is meant to enable non-controversial bills to be passed quickly before Parliament is dissolved for the election, but this bill was not non-controversial. Whilst I haven’t read the bill in depth, or even pretend to understand its implications it does seem to be an awfully huge thing to have passed into law without the full scrutiny and discussion that would normally be entailed in the final readings of a bill.
That there has been so little account seemingly taken of the thousands of people who have contacted their MPs about this issue is incredibly depressing and makes me question the point of engaging with the democratic process.The fact that this campaign was lead and developed online seems to have meant that many of the MPs saw the numbers of their constituents who contacted them about it as many less than the number, at least that seemed to be the view from one of the comments I was reading in Hansard earlier in the week. It seems that the fact that so many people have been prompted to contact their MP or the Leader of the House has been negated by the fact that there has been online various groups organising and encouraging people to contact their MP through the use of template letters. Surely the fact that each of those individuals took the time to do so and cared enough about the issue to do so shouldn’t mean that their contact matterred less because they used a standard letter? Not everyone has the time or the understanding to look through the detail of the bill and understand what it could mean, but that doesnt’ stop people being concerned about what it could mean for them.
It will be interesting how the passing of this bill affects the general election – I’ve seen people suggesting they will vote based on how their MP voted on this issue, but it may mean that the proportion of the younger generations who do vote is lower as they feel disillusioned with the process. I have never not voted at a general election (and I don’t think I’ve missed many local elections either) but this does show how ineffectual MPs really are at standing up for the views of their constituents. Is it worth voting? I’m not sure any of them are any better than the others, really.