by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

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The UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has told people protesting over the genocide in Gaza that they have made their point and should stop protesting because of the cost in Police time to safeguard and monitor the marches. Yesterday, The Newsagents Podcast devoted some time to this topic, and had some interesting interviews with a former senior Police officer and a leading protest organiser. What struck me, though, was that none of the people involved, nor the Home Secretary, seemed to acknowledge that there is a simple way to end the protests. It is for the UK Government to acknowledge the genocide, to stop supplying arms to Israel and to vote for a cease fire in the UN Security Council. Until such time as that happens, protesters really have not made their point because, as so often, the UK Government simply isn’t listening to them whatever James Cleverly may say. For him to use the cost of policing the marches as a valid reason to stop protesting is a typical Tory diversion tactic.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is not helping with his depictions of the protesters as violent extremists intent on harming MPs. Again, this is a tactic to turn the public against the protesters and to pave the way for yet more draconian anti-protest laws.

The right to protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, and people will keep protesting for as long as the issue they are concerned about is not addressed. That is how protests work, and it is disingenuous of James Cleverly to ignore that basic fact.

Another thought occurred to me while I was listening to the discussion. Much of the Tories’ clampdown on protest marches is based on the level of inconvenience they cause to the public. This can include things like disruption to traffic because of road closures and the noise made by the protesters. However, I recall a couple of events last year which included road closures and significant disruption but which nobody seemed to be too concerned about. The funeral of the late Queen and the coronation of the new King probably created more disruption than any protest march, yet I don’t think a single Tory MP complained about that.