‘One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution. One makes a revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.’ George Orwell, 1984, (1948)
This Orwell quote could very easily relate to Brexit over the promises it made. It is beginning to increasingly look like when they said ‘Take back control’, what they meant was that they would take back control of our rights; of our lives.
We are on a very dark road indeed. We’ve been on it for a while; travelling with increasing speed since 2016. But now the driver has finally revealed the destination and we are passively hurtling into an abyss.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been passed this evening which will mean that peaceful protests cannot take place here on this rotting rock that is Plague Island. The police will be able to impose a start and finish time, set noise limits, break up the protest if it is deemed to be causing an annoyance to the public, and apply these rules to a demonstration of just one person. So, creating a public nuisance could mean 10 years in prison; vandalising a statue could mean 10 years in prison; using a megaphone in Westminster could mean a £5,000 fine; resisting in a protest camp could mean a £2,500 fine/3months in prison; a one-person protest could mean a £2,500 fine or 1 year on prison.
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, can now pass laws without parliamentary approval to define serious disruption to communities and organisations. The police can then use these new laws to impose conditions on protests (Guardian).
Anyone else shuddering?
If we were still part of the EU, this law couldn’t pass because the right to protest is enshrined in the Human Rights Act. However, that right is not absolute. Protests can be limited by the police if they think there is good reason to do so, in order to prevent crime (BBC News). We were worried that this would happen with this government in charge, but it is really something else when what you feared becomes reality.
Relevant to the recent Sarah Everard abduction and murder, and the vigil for her and other women lost to violence at the weekend – where the police went in heavy using batons and physical restraint against grieving women – Labour made an amendment to introduce laws against violence towards women. The Tories voted against it.
We are told that this bill is necessary to keep people safe and, more broadly, to break up protests during the pandemic. But, surely we must all be able to see now that the goal is to control us? Assuming this pandemic never goes away, what’s the betting that this law is here to stay?
It’s more and more feeling like the pandemic is being used to pass laws that would have never got though otherwise. What is happening is lunacy. We keep talking about getting ‘back to normal’ once Covid is under control, but we now have to face that there is no normal to get back to. We have gone through the looking glass. A dark future is no longer looming: it is here.
Whilst it might seem hysterical to be saying, ‘a dictatorship is upon us’, dear readers: a dictatorship is upon us. Every erosion of our rights over the years has moved us a little more towards it. And tonight feels like a filthy, giant leap.
However, what the government need to remember is that the revolution enters people’s hearts long before the revolutionaries arrive on the street. This belligerent government ought to be very careful, because their actions will further erode our quality of life to the point where we have nothing left to lose.
~ L&A 16.3.21 ~