29 March 2011
New proposed restrictions on protest in Britain
Anarchist disorder and vandalism in London on 26 March 2011 has given cover to the government's proposal to ban named people from participating in political protest.
The Home Secretary Teresa May, says she is considering introducing a ban on “known troublemakers” attending political protests. Government propaganda is clearly attempting to equate political disorder with football hooliganism.
Such a law would be a gift from heaven for the police. No longer would they have to prove to a court that a particular person had committed an offence; it would enough to show that a banned person was present at a political protest.
Whatever one feels about anarchist hooligans having their political rights taken away, it surely would not be long before such bans were extended to practitioners of non-violent direct action (e.g. Uncut) and others attending political events of which the police disapproved.
While this pernicious provision may fail thanks to the Human Rights Act – or be stymied on practicalities; e.g. what counts as political protest? – it nonetheless needs to be opposed with everything we have got to oppose it.