by David Watts on 14 March, 2021
Priti Patel’s Policing Bill, being introduced to parliament tomorrow, includes a power to lock people up for ten years if they engage in a protest that might “seriously annoy” people. Two summers back I protested against the unlawful shutting down of parliament. I imagine that seriously annoyed Boris Johnson, especially when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against him. Every Extinction Rebellion protest seriously annoys the powers that be and the fossil fuel companies. Every Black Lives Matter protest seriously annoys the racists in our community. It seems that last nights vigil by women in London against women being harassed and abused seriously annoyed the Metropolitan Police. Are we all criminals now?
The right to protest is an essential part of our democracy. If we don’t have that how different are we really from those states that we criticise for their appalling human rights abuses. If we can’t protest does that make us any different to Turkey or Russia, or any other country where protest is criminalised. It shows how far to the right the current government have gone that they would even consider introducing such a bill, and frighteningly their lobby fodder MP’s will vote it through. Anyone who cares about civil liberties should be screaming about this from the rooftops.
This bill is the most frightening attempt to curtail our civil liberties I have ever seen in this country. My Lib Dem colleagues and I will fight it every step of the way.