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”
This is clearly rubbish legislation. For example, there is a lack of a definition of “serious disruption”, what about arresting the Government for serious disruption to the NHS over the last 12 years? I would support that. The criminal courts in this country are crumbling and cannot cope with the number of cases that they have at the moment. Yet here the Government will insist on more cases which will clog up the courts even more. This is so right-wing; it is not an appropriate Bill for a democracy. Continue reading “Public Order Bill committee stage day 1”
The Government really do not need the sort of repressive powers in the Bill that are worthy of Russia, China or Iran. We should vote against this legislation—again—to protect the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assembly and the right to protest, which is what we expect in a free society. Of course protest is inherently disruptive; that is its nature. But do the Lords know what is more disruptive? The fossil fuel companies and extractive industries that are destroying our planet, and the billionaires who are amassing huge claims over the world’s resources while everyone else worries about how to pay our energy bills this winter. BP has made £7 billion profit in three months, yet we will pay the extra cost of coastal defences and higher food prices for the next three decades or more. Shell makes £9.5 billion profit in a quarter. They have billions in the bank; we will have a country that swings from drought and wildfires to floods of sewage. Every dollar or pound that the oil and gas companies make equals the world becoming a worse place for generations. That is what real disruption means, and we have a Government encouraging it with tax breaks and licences for big business. Continue reading “Public Order Bill arrives in Lords”
The demonstrations by the women of Iran are morally justified and incredibly brave in the face of a repressive regime. Are we waiting for the USA to decide before acting ourselves? Wouldn’t it be better if we led the world and supported the Iranian women and their supporters? Continue reading “Zan Zendaygee Arzardee!”
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.
People do not approve of crackdowns on protest because there are times when they themselves want to protest. They want to protest about a crossing that is in the wrong place on their own road or to complain about cars idling outside their children’s school. People protest. It is all very well to call them “protesters” but actually they are just people.
Obstructing the highway should not land anyone in prison for a year. You can still be put into prison for a year even if the roads have already been closed by a traffic authority. When roads in Sheffield, sometimes quite minor ones, were closed for trees to be cut down, local people who were furious about that and were doing their best to stop it protested on those closed roads. Under the Bill, they could have faced up to 51 weeks in prison for protesting on their own road to try to protect their own trees. Peaceful protesters should never face jail. The original government amendment was bad and the compromise is also bad.
The House of Lords inflicted a staggering 14 defeats on the government in one historic evening, with a further 5 government amendments being withdrawn.
The Lords seized their chance to reject most of the 18 pages of late government amendments to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. This forces Ministers to either drop these proposals or bring them back in completely separate legislation at a later date. The Lords only have this power on very rare occasions because the government introduced the amendments late and by-passed scrutiny in the commons.
Since the last General Election gave the Conservative Party an 80+ seat majority of MPs in the Commons, they have pushed through some bad legislation. When these Bills come to the Lords, it’s our job to look at them line by line and try to improve them by carefully considered amendments. Which mostly the Tory-dominated Commons immediately throw out*.
Have a good festive break and stay safe from whichever Covid variant is near you. Recharge those batteries because we are going to need your help defeating the 18 pages of draconian laws that the government submitted as late amendments to the Police and Crime Bill.
This debate comes after a few years of increasing suppression of civil liberties and human rights here in the UK. Freedom of speech is about engaging with all sorts of ideas, biases and creeds to make up the public discourse. As a Green, I am well aware of how important it is to talk and try to convince people about the environmental crisis—especially those in power who can actually do something about it, however little. I might regard this Government as political enemies, and as arrogant and repressive, but I think it is worth engaging and very much hope they feel it is worth engaging with Greens.