In a democracy every person should have an equal voice to express their views and be heard. A small community group should have the same access to decision-makers as a company; a constituent should have the same access as a millionaire.
But this is not the case in Britain. Our democracy is asymmetrical. A local charity campaigning on cancer in my constituency does not have the same access to the political process as the big tobacco companies.
Under the government’s “gagging bill”, now an Act, this asymmetry has been made even worse.
The gagging bill is an outright attack on healthy democracy; it is a cynical attempt to deceive the public by gagging campaigners and charities. My constituents, like so many others, are not falling for it.
I voted against this Act right the way through Parliament as I believe that lobbying is an essential part of our democracy, it allows charities and campaigners to be heard and stand up for the issues they fight for.
I have been contacted by a large number of my constituents asking what Labour would do. We are clear; a Labour government would abolish the gagging Act.
Labour recognise there is a real need for political reform. There is already a widespread sense of alienation from politics; the disillusionment partly stems from a feeling that Britain is governed by a closed circle at the top which excludes the millions of hard-working people who play by the rules but who are struggling to get by.
We need to open up the lobbying world, not legislate to silence charities and campaigners who want to hold the government to account. This is why Labour will repeal the gagging law and legislate for the real reform our politics needs.
Labour, should we win the 2015 election, will make the lobbying industry more transparent by introducing a register of all lobbyists backed by a code of conduct and sanctions, we will make the changes a fairer Britain needs.