The Conservative Government is pushing through a new law, 'The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill', that will restrict our right to protest effectively. It will empower the police to stop 'disruptive' protests, ie. ones that have an impact and get attention. The government is thinking of Extinction Rebellion's direct action, which brought city centres to a standstill and raised the profile of the climate crisis. It is also thinking of the Black Lives Matter protests, which have shone a light on police brutality, deaths in custody and racism at the hands of the police.
Protesting works. Throughout history, protesting has made the world a better place - for women, for black people, for the working class and all oppressed groups. No wonder the Tories want to squash it.
Boris Johnson's friends, who control the economy and own the press, don't need to protest to make their voices heard. But we do. This law will impact working-class and oppressed people. It could embolden the police to use existing anti-union laws to break up picket lines when we strike. It will specifically target the travelling community by giving the police more powers to destroy encampments.
The Tories say that they're restricting protest for the same reason that they have restricted our right to strike since the 1980s: they are standing up for millions of everyday people who are inconvenienced by the actions of a minority. Well, if we want to talk about a minority wreaking havoc for the majority, let's look no further than the government itself. How can a Prime Minister, who was born into privilege and has used the pandemic to govern for the rich and stuff his mates' pockets with public cash, claim to stand up for the little people?
If the Government gets its way, the law could come into force by Summer. Protests have been organised in nearly every major city in response to this attack on our democratic freedoms. We urge our unions to join this movement and keep protesting - even if the law comes into effect. With enough resistance, the law will not be enforceable. We need to get on the streets and fight for the right to protest. Let's couple it with a call to repeal all anti-union laws and for a right to strike.