Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Under the cover of night


The current government is a big fan of sneaking things in through the back door.

An update on SOCPA that I posted about last December. At the time Maya Evans had just been the first casualty of the bill's introduction. Since that time people have been arrested for holding banners in parliament square and ridiculously eating iced buns with the words 'love' and 'peace' written on them . To date there have been over 30 arrests within 1km of parliament and 11 convictions for what are essentially peaceful protests.

This kind of erosion of our rights to protest is just the kind of totalitarianism that is creeping in gradually throughout our legislature. What surprises me, is the lack of right thinking minds that are up in arms about this. Essentially laws like this are an errosion of individual rights, but at present it's the left that are championing the fight. A fight personified by Brian Haw.

Brian has maintained his vigil in Parliament Square for 5 years. His anti-war stance is an embarrassment to government. He has been called 'ridiculous' by Labour, he has had his nose broken 3 times, once by a member of the US embassy, who was mysteriously ghosted out of the country to never face charges and he is lambasted by the Conservatives who say his protests are disturbing people working in Portcullis House and 1 Parliament square. Poor babies, never mind that the head count stands at 30-35 a day at the moment in the country where there apparently isn't a civil war going on.

Initially it looked like there had been an error in framing the SOCPA legislation which meant that it couldn't touch any protester that had begun his/her vigil prior to the legislation's enactment. However in a challenge on 8th May ''Sir Anthony Clarke, Lord Justice Laws and Lady Justice Hallett overturned the decision and refused permission for him to appeal to the House of Lords.

Sir Anthony said: "Parliament intended to include demonstrations whenever they started.

"Any other conclusion would be wholly irrational and could fairly be described as manifestly absurd."

And so the clock was ticking on Brian's protest, the question was really when the police would move in rather than if.

Last night they came at 2.45am. There couldn't be a better metaphor for the way this government sneaks things through while people aren't looking.

As I write Brian is still there protesting, minus the confiscated banners and many of his personal possessions. It is only a matter of time before he is physically removed himself. It is likely to be 30th May or soon therefater when he has been summonsed according to the conditions now on his protest.

I posted about the 50 heroes of our time yesterday. Brian was my vote. He came 31st and the New Statesman quoted the following from a reader which I whole hertedly believe ''He stands alone, but he represnts everyone who regards this government as too repressive.'' Not only has he continued his protest against injustice in Iraq, but he is the largest shining symbol symbol of where this government has gone so wrong.

I would urge everyone I know to support Brian. If he goes, a small corner of our democracy goes with him. You can join his email list here if you so desire.

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