This week, the Government voted its draconian Policing Bill (Police Crackdown Bill) through the House of Commons. Not a single Tory MP voted against it. Rather than addressing the growing injustices of our time, they are firmly united behind silencing the people who raise them.
Today’s protests are the milestones of tomorrow’s progress. The Conservatives’ decision to ram through a Bill criminalising the act of protest and infringing the right to free assembly is an insult to everyone who wants to build a better future. During the pandemic, we saw the damaging effect of the decision to break up protests that the Government disagreed with and giving Police ill-defined powers to break up protest. This Bill will only make the scenes at the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard more commonplace.
It is also clear that the provisions outlined in the Policing Bill will fall disproportionately on under-represented social groups. Indeed, some are even designed to. Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities recognised by the United Nations as among the most persecuted groups in the world. The Government should be ensuring they have safe places to go and protecting them from hate crimes. Instead, they are introducing legislation outlawing their way of life.
This week, I called on MPs to protect under-represented communities and defend the right to protest. Along with colleagues from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, I tabled amendments seeking to limit the damage of the Policing Bill. Sadly, these did not pass with Tory MPs lining up along Party lines.
Read my article about where we go next in our fight against the Police Crackdown Bill