A few questions…
When a country is faced with economic, health and social problems caused by a global pandemic, what kind of government focuses its attention on legislation to clamp down on peaceful protest?
When a country is faced with immediate economic and trading uncertainties due to severing political ties with its largest trading partner of four decades, what kind of government focuses its attention on legislation to clamp down on peaceful protest?
And what kind of government tries to enact legislation to clamp down on protest when the possibility of protesting against such legislation is made impossible because of existing, temporary, emergency restrictions on the numbers of people that can freely assemble?
An authoritarian, repressive, quasi-dictatorial government. And I think I’m being charitable there… (I haven’t used the F word despite temptation). Why else would a government even propose legislation like this at a time like this? It’s either incompetent or authoritarian.
It’s also depressing to see so many people taking the side of the government when commenting on the recent demonstrations taking place across the UK against the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill. Those that oppose the demonstrations clearly haven’t read the proposed bill. There’s even opposition within government ranks and the police force itself. That’s how much of a threat to a democratic state this legislation is.
Protest isn’t a sanctioned gift provided by the state. Protest is a civil right directed at the state by those that seek to effect changes to perceived injustices and inequities.
This legislation is being driven by a hardcore minority of dogmatic, piratical authoritarians aboard a politically rudderless ship of government, captained by a serial liar and charlatan ex TV political/celebrity scared of losing his grip on the wheel of the helm. And it’s being voted through the parliamentary process (supposedly in place to challenge bad legislation) by members of a government that see their main duty is to maintain their own positions and the power of their political party.
Prior to this legislation the police could only restrict protest if they considered there was a threat of disorder, disruption, damage or intimidation. Now we have the addition of the particularly intentionally vague notion of ‘impact’. There is also the addition of prosecution for ‘illegal’ protest even if the protester is unaware a protest has been deemed illegal. Before this bill, you were only potentially arrestable at a demonstration if you knowingly broke the law whilst at that demonstration. With this law now, even the noise of a demonstration can potentially be deemed illegal if the noise ‘may result in serious disruptions to the activities of an organisation’. How is this defined? A bank worker’s loss of concentration when working on a spreadsheet as a march with conga drummers passes by outside perhaps? Well it’s simple – the Home Secretary decides what is disruptive. The Home Secretary decides what is illegal. And this can be done without reference to Parliament. So you could arrive to peacefully demonstrate on a march and halfway through that demonstration the Home Secretary decides the ‘impact’ of the demonstration makes it illegal. You are now breaking the law and could be subject to arrest. And it doesn’t have to be a march of a hundred thousand people. It could be a dozen people, or it could be you and two mates or it could even be just you on your own, with a placard and sense of enormous injustice that you need to share.
The general population that suck up the bullshit they’re being fed by the tabloid media need to remember where their rights to improved healthcare, pensions, housing, working conditions etc came from. These things weren’t handed down by the establishment. They were fought for and won by their parents and grandparents before them. The previous generations who were happy to stand up, kick off and be heard.
A few questions…