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.


Peter Gilbert

Ecclesall Green Party

Suella Braverman’s Public Order Bill brings back the worst aspects of the Policing Bill that were rightly thrown out by the House of Lords earlier this year – and adds even more repressive measures.

Caroline Lucas has called Suella Braverman’s Public Order Bill “a truly staggering attack on our right to protest… a blatant attack on political community – on the vital networks of people involved in keeping protest movements alive.”

Please sign this petition by human rights organisation Liberty calling on the government to stop this attack on our democratic rights, and encourage others to sign.

Our Green peers Jenny Jones and Natalie Bennett led the opposition to Priti Patel’s Policing Bill and succeeded in getting many of its most dangerous clauses thrown out. But the government hasn’t given up trying to remove our basic democratic freedoms. This bill would hand authorities sweeping powers to clamp down on protests such as those that stopped the felling of street trees.

The Public Order Bill would mean:

Residents protest the felling of trees and plead with police (photo by Jacqui Bellamy)

● Anyone who has taken part in a protest that caused “serious disruption to two or
more individuals or to an organisation” in the previous five years, or
encouraged other people to take part, could be forced to wear an electronic
tag to monitor their movements.

● People suspected of planning protests could also be forced to “remain at a
particular place for particular periods” and prohibited from associating “with
particular persons”, entering “particular areas” or using the internet to
encourage others to protest. Anyone breaking these terms could face up to 51
weeks in prison.

● “Locking on” – the method of non-violent protest used by the Suffragettes and
many others – would become a criminal offence.

● A new offence of “interfering with key national infrastructure” could be used to
criminalise protesters at almost any site of power, or who disrupt transport.

The Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Commons but goes to the
House of Lords in the week beginning 1 November. But the Lords can still vote it
down – and it’s vital that they do so.

You can also write to or phone your local MP and/or to Labour/independent peers.
You can find your MP and email them at Write to Them. There’s a templateemail you can use here. But if you have time, please write your own email using your own words. You can find the phone numbers of most MPs here. If you call, urge them to speak to their colleagues in the House of Lords to urge them to oppose the Bill. Contacts for members of the House of Lords are here.