A draconian government tries again

The Lords deleted nearly 18 pages of the most draconian restrictions on the right to peaceful protest from the Policing Bill, but the government are now trying to bring them back. This must be opposed.

The government want to stop any protest that might get noticed and be effective. They have already got the right to ban noisy protests, now they want to clamp down on all the other forms of peaceful, non violent protest that people use to get attention. And that’s the crucial point – protestors are just people. People who work, pay taxes, study, or collect the pensions they have earned. People who see something wrong and want it to stop. People like you and me.

It might be parents concerned about a dangerous road crossing near a school; or it might be someone living in the countryside who is trying to protect an ancient woodland that is being destroyed to make way for HS2. If you lock up local people for a year because they take part in a non-violent protest, then that is the road to dictatorship.

Protest works and that’s why the government doesn’t like it. We can talk about the suffragettes chaining themselves to Buckingham Palace – it wasn’t popular at the time, but they eventually won the right to vote. You can complain about Extinction Rebellion but as a result of their actions, Parliament passed a Declaration that we are living in a Climate Emergency. Local campaigners blocking roads and equipment stopped the fracking industry from by-passing local democracy and being imposed on the countryside by a top down government.