People should have the right to protest for what they believe is right without fear of punishment

Kate’s latest column for the Shields Gazette: 

The Prime Minister set the rules and did not follow them, he has been untruthful to MPs in the commons and to the country, he has been fined by the police and now he has been condemned by the Sue Gray report.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street for PMQs, his first since the Sue Gray Report into “Partygate” was made public. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street for PMQs, his first since the Sue Gray Report into “Partygate” was made public. 

However, it is not just his personal behaviour that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, it is his policies and a culture he is cultivating at the very top of one rule for them and one for the rest of us, he is fostering a culture of arrogance and callousness to the suffering of many that is throughout all of this Government’s actions.

Earlier this week we saw this Government set the tone for the new Parliamentary session by driving through another piece of authoritarian legislation – attempting to seize power as his authority wanes.

Instead of trying to help families who are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis, soaring energy bills and the confirmation this week of another energy price hike later this year, this Government’s first Bill of the new Parliament was a piece of vindictive, anti-protest legislation to undermine our power to hold it to account.

Over the past 12 years, this Government has waged war on the working class with real terms pay cuts and the destruction of vital public services. Boris Johnson and Priti Patel know only too well the power of the people protesting against their draconian policies.

Now, through the controversial Public Order Bill, they want to clamp down on the ability of people to organise and defend our hard-won rights – a Bill that would in Amnesty International opinion “seriously curtail human rights in this country and damage the UK’s international standing”

Not content to ramp up police powers to restrict the right to protest and expand on discriminatory stop and search powers, the Public Order Bill would introduce jail sentences and unlimited fines for demonstrating around national infrastructure like airports and railways.

It was our country’s rich tradition of dissent that paved the way for the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy here today.

This Bill, however, contains measures that would have banned the protests that won votes for women and trade unions.

If the Public Order Bill was in place back in October 1936, then the Jarrow Crusade would have been banned and the proud, dignified marchers – including the town’s MP Ellen Wilkinson – would have been arrested.

In a democracy, people should have the right to protest and demonstrate what they believe is right without fear of being punished.

Instead, the Home Secretary has brought forward rehashed public order measures that were rejected by the Labour Lords in January this year.

There was widespread opposition to the Government’s first anti-protest bill which showed that attacks on the right to protest are deeply harmful and unpopular. It beggar’s belief that the Government is so shameless it is trying to force it through again.

These measures will have a detrimental effect on protests. We remember the time of the 1984/85 Miners Strike and the extent to which Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government were prepared to go to, to destroy the mining industry and our communities, and use whatever force possible.

People are hurting and angry. They want help and this Government is shamefully not listening. That is why people are fighting back against this Government’s inability to acknowledge nor accept that it needs to do more, a lot more, and say that enough is enough.

We must continue to keep up the fight against this Government’s attacks on our civil liberties and demand support for our communities.