Posts Tagged ‘Kill the Bill’

Freedom To Protest Under Threat

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

Back in 2008, people were protesting against the severe restrictions against our freedom to protest, that had been brought in by the Labour government under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. As well as greatly widening the powers to arrest people and widening the scope of harassment, the act had criminalised trespass at certain protected sites and severely limited the holding of protests in a wide designated area of up to one kilometre from any point in Parliament Square.

CSG border post “To the left you have lost your freedom to protest

This latter provision was particularly aimed at Brian Haw and his Parliament Square Peace Campaign, but also prevented many other protests, and led to a number of arrests of campaigners. Parliament Square in particular had become the main focus of protests against the government and may government ministries were also inside the prohibited area.

There was wide disquiet about the effect of SOCPA on protest, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown had begun a public consultation with the Home Office on October 2007 issuing a document ‘Managing Protest’ which many felt threatened further threats to freedom of assembly throughout the UK.

The provisions regarding protests in the area around Parliament were replaced in 2011 by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which gave police more draconian powers to restrict certain prohibited activities in and around Parliament Square – and have been used to seize tents, umbrellas, tarpaulins, sleeping bags and other equipment in the area.

Brian Haw complains that a police officer pushed his camera into his face and caused this injury

The Freedom to Protest is under even greater threat now, with the current passage through Parliament of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – which a select committee has said “would curb non-violent protest in a way that is inconsistent with our human rights” and has led to many ‘Kill the Bill’ protests. Also disturbing is the reaction of many Tory politicians to the jury verdict in the Colston statue trial, which apears to be threatening state control of our legal system.

On Saturday 12th January 2008, I covered protests in Trafalgar Square and in front of Downing St upholding the freedom to protest. Earlier I had covered Hizb ut Tahrir marching to the Saudi Embassy against Bush’s Middle East tour and a small group of rich young people outside the National Gallery on the last day of the Siena exhibition protesting against the expansion of Siena airport which would bring more less well-heeled tourists into the area.

Although I’m very much against any expansion of air travel – the planet simply can’t afford it, I found it hard to take this particular protest too seriously – it seemed to be rather more about protecting privilege than opposing environmental crime.

And while I had gone to Downing St mainly for the Freedom to Protest demonstration, while there I photographed another protest calling on an end to the Israeli government’s siege of Gaza. This included a number of British Jews, including those calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Also present opposite Downing St were another large group of Kenyans, protesting against the re-election of the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. A US commissioned exit poll suggested opposition leader Raila Odinga had won by a 6% margin and there was widespread international agreement that the election was rigged.

More on My London Diary:
Hizb ut Tahrir against Bush tour
Siena Airport Protest
CSG Border Post
Freedom to Protest – Downing St
End Gaza Seige
Kenyans Protest Election Fraud


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Demand a New Normal

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

This Saturday, 26 June 2021 at noon people will assemble on Portland Place, London, outside the BBC for The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national demonstration, marching from there to a rally in Parliament Square.

I hope to be there and taking photographs, though I’ve been a little unwell for the last few weeks and may still have to take things easy – which isn’t how I take pictures.

The pictures with this post are from The People’s Assembly national march 7 years ago on Saturday 21 June 2014, when tens of thousands marched from a rally at the BBC to another in Parliament Square. Speakers then included John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Dianne Abbot, Carolyn Lucas, Len McCluskey, Matt Wrack and other leading figures – and you can find pictures of almost all of them on My London Diary – though I couldn’t be bothered to wait for Russell Brand who came an hour late.

The event was planned to take place after the lifting of Covid restrictions which has has now been postponed. But protests are still legal, protected by Human Rights legislation which overrules Covid restrictions, though they must observe social distancing. So put on a mask and come and make your views clear.

This is what the People’s Assembly says about what is happening now:

This government has made it clear it wants working people to pay for the coronavirus crisis. Its pitiful offer to the nurses, the public sector pay freeze, lack of sick pay, while contracts are granted to their friends and cronies tells you that. Meanwhile there are further subsidies to companies while we are facing mass unemployment levels when furlough ends. Employers are going on the offensive, especially with notorious fire and rehire policies -but there has been widespread opposition to this including strike action.

There is visceral anger over the multitude of government failures during the pandemic, with one of the highest Covid death rates in the world. This government has failed us and this will be our first opportunity to take to the streets in opposition.

The Tories are also attempting to use the cover of the pandemic to sneak through the draconian ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’. Due to reach its final reading in June this bill is an affront to democracy, an assault on our rights to protest and an attempt to silence dissent & opposition to the government. The Tories want to take away our rights to demonstrate for our rights! We cannot let that happen.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1014040739128410/

The march invitation lists a dozen key demands of the protest:

  • Renationalise Key Services
  • Decent Housing For All
  • Sack The Corrupt Politicians
  • Properly Funded, Fully Publicly Owned NHS
  • End The Marketisation Of Education
  • Act Now! Tackle The Climate Emergency
  • Support International Justice
  • Safe Workplaces, Save Jobs
  • End Fire And Rehire
  • Fully Funded Social Care
  • End Institutional Racism
  • Kill The Police, Crime, Sentencing And Courts Bill

More from 2014:
People’s Assembly Rally
No more Austerity – demand the alternative


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


May Day #KillTheBill

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

May Day 2000

Unfortunately May Day is not a public holiday in the UK, and when I was in full time teaching it was usually just a normal working day for me and I was unable to celebrate it except in those years where it fell at a weekend. Even when I cut my teaching to 30% for a few years, that 30% seemed always to include May Day, and it was only from 2003 that I began to attend May Day in London every year – until 2020, when it went online.

This year, when May Day is on a Saturday, the official May Day celebrations are also taking place online, but May 1st is now a nationwide day of action against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 with which the government is attempting to severely limit the right to protest and in particular to criminalise “noisy” protests and prosecute people in the Gypsy and Roma communities. Noisy protests shaming businesses have been vital in recent years in gaining better wages and conditions for low paid workers particularly in the City of London.

The Bill will give the police much greater powers to place conditions on protest – and to make it a crime to break these conditions if they “ought to have known” they were in place but didn’t. They introduce a new offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance” which can lead to a sentence of up to ten years.

Police also gain greater powers to stop and search on the streets under a new Serious Violence Reduction Order, an arbitrary power that removes even the need for any suspicion and will doubtless lead to an even more racist implementation of stop and search, worse than the old ‘Sus’ law that led to the Brixton riots 40 years ago.

As a knee-jerk reaction to Black Lives Matter protests there is a new offence of causing damage to statues and memorials which could also lead to sentences of ten years, twice the maximum sentence for assault causing actual bodily harm.

The bill also seeks to create a wide “controlled area” around parliament where protests would not be allowed – and so MPs and ministers would no longer be made aware of any public opposition to their actions. Many see the bill as denying our right to freedom of assembly and association under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights .

A long list of organisations are coming to Trafalgar Square at noon today for a MayDay #KillTheBill protest (and to similar protests in Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.) They include Sisters Uncut, Women’s Strike Assembly, Black Lives Matter UK, Disabled People Against Cuts, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Docs not Cops. With the current large Tory majority in the House of Commons the bill is likely to pass with only minor amendments, and the fight will move to the streets where with strong opposition much of the new law will be unenforceable.

Seconds later an officer knocked this man offering plants flying

Pictures are from 21 years ago, May Day 2000. There are some black and white pictures from the same day on My London Diary.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.