“Brian Haw (1949-2011) was one of the most visible, influential, determined and adhesive peace campaigners of our times. In June 2001, he began a peace protest at Parliament Square in Westminster, where he remained for nearly ten years.” Actor and campaigner Mark Rylance writes about him for the Big Issue.
A Crowdfunder has been set up to fund the installation of a small statue of Brian, facing the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth, creating a permanent symbol of protest for peace – you can support the Crowdfunder here
Some 2,000 years ago, the Roman philosopher Cicero said, “The closer the collapse of an empire, the crazier its laws”. That is what we have here. There are families who are starving, people who are freezing in their homes and workers rightfully striking on the streets, but we are debating this dross. Just as the Public Order Bill is an attack on democracy in the streets, this Bill is an attack on democracy here within Parliament. Rather than taking back control, the Government are seeking to take away Parliament’s sovereign power of voting for or against laws and to hand that power over to a chaotic Executive of right-wing Ministers and their civil servants. We have reached the slash-and-burn stage of Brexit. The only sensible thing now is to cut our losses and rejoin the EU.
The Lords have the ability to stop the government’s “pre-crime” laws in a vote on Monday. The government has proposed late amendments to the Public Order Bill that give the police power to ban protests, or a series of protests, ahead of them being held. It doesn’t matter if the organisers have never been convicted of a crime and what’s planned is non violent, the intention is enough for the police to judge it as illegal, if they feel it will ‘seriously disrupt’ somone’s life.
A protest only has to be more than a “minor interference” to be counted as “serious disruption” under the government plans. The judgment over what is minor, rather than “more than minor interference”, will be left to the police to predict, ahead of the proposed protest. Which means the police are making more and more political judgments about good protests and bad protests. Anyone joining the banned protest will be subject to arrest.
As these pre-crime amendments have been submitted late and in the Lords, it means the Lords can vote them out of the bill. Please make some noise on social media to ensure that Labour peers and others vote to ditch pre-crime.
The government has pushed through more and more draconian powers for the police to use against peaceful protestors. Yet trust in police integrity, standards and culture has never been lower. There are now six police services (including the Metropolitan Police) who are in special measures. Plus the government has launched their own review after numerous scandals have exposed issues with police recruitment and attitudes:
This Bill is the National Security Bill and, therefore, it ought to be about national security. The offences should not be able to be translated to other areas. These offences are drawn so badly and broadly that they will criminalise a huge range of conduct which might only vaguely affect the interests of the UK. It is a dangerous piece of legislation, because it is so broad that the police and security services will be able to turn it into something they can use against far too many people. Continue reading “National Security Bill Committee Stage Day 1”→
The Government are seeking in this Bill to make protest a crime instead of a right. If not completely overcome by corruption, this Government do at least have filaments of corruption winding their way through the whole body politic. Continue reading “Public Order Bill Day 2 of Committee”→