A letter to the Star and Telegraph
Under the Boris Johnson Government, the two Green Peers, Natalie Bennett and Jenny Jones, had to fight tooth and nail to amend the dreadful Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. This Bill became law, but the peers successfully voted down 14 of the worst parts of the bill.
Now Home Secretary Suella Braverman has brought back even more dangerous legislation, the Public Order Bill. Leading human rights groups say this would align the UK’s anti-protest laws with those in Russia and Belarus. The Public Order Bill has already passed a final vote in the Commons, so the House of Lords has a last chance to try to amend it before it becomes law. Under this law for instance the tree protesters in Sheffield would have been locked up or intimidated and Sheffield would have lost all 17500 trees planned for felling.
The new bill means the police can arrest anyone at a protest. This is because “noise” is now to be defined as serious disruption. What is the point of a demonstration if nobody hears you?
Writer George Monbiot says “Perhaps the most sinister part of the Bill is what it calls Serious Disruption Prevention Orders. These are orders that can be served on anyone who has been to a protest in the past 5 years or encouraged anyone else to go to a protest in the last five years or in any way has supported a protest in the last five years.” Protesters will be subjected to the kind of restraints that dangerous criminals face when released from prison on probation. They would have to regularly report to the police, they would not be allowed to associate with certain people, they would not be allowed to go to a protest or encourage a protest or possibly even look at protest-related materials online. They could be forced to wear an electronic tag and have monitoring equipment installed in their home.
This could apply to all the Green Party activists I can think of. We could all end up wearing tags! Attacking opponents like this is how fascism begins.
Unfortunately, Keir Starmer is not speaking out against this bill, even though the whole Labour movement was built on protest. It shows how far to the right the Labour Party has moved.
There are now 37 environmental protesters in UK prisons, all arrested for non-violent direct action. Some activists were recently arrested for simply carrying a banner.
Our friends at Greenpeace have organised a petition against the Public Order Bill. https://action.greenpeace.org.uk/public-order-bill Please support it.
Ecclesall Green Party