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Don't ban the boycott

Prime Minister David Cameron and Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock:

The government's plan to ban publicly funded organisations such as universities or local councils from boycotting unethical companies threatens the values of our country, the independence of non-government bodies and the democratic rights of local councils. We call on you to abandon these controversial plans and preserve the rights of individuals and institutions.

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This week a government minister plans to announce that local councils, universities, and other public bodies will no longer have the right to boycott companies or products they disagree with. It’s a crazy, backwards step, and together we can stop it.

Boycotts of South African fruit and sports tours were fundamental tactics for the anti-apartheid movement, just like boycotting buses was for civil rights in the USA. Yet -- under the flimsy pretext of ensuring that public institutions don’t break the law -- our right to get institutions to stop spending our money on things like fossil fuels and Israeli settlement products would be taken away.

Ministers know this is controversial and say they want to hear citizens’ views before they finalise the plan. Let’s make a huge petition showing how unpopular this boycott ban is, then submit it to the official consultation, and create a media splash before it ends this Friday. Add your name now!

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