Our Police State

Alex Salmond trial blogger Craig Murray freed from prison
Former ambassador and human rights activist, Craig Murray, released from Saughton Prison

The ludicrously over-the-top jail sentence handed down to human rights activist Craig Murray, for a minor infringement of a presposterous court rule called ‘jigsaw indentification’, together with the hurried embracing of a ban on assembly around our Parliament building, is yet more warning that the Scottish National Party (SNP), has lost touch with people. They are delighted to keep us at a distance, the further away the better. Better still, having supporters stick newspapers through letterboxes for a hobby will keep the compliant busy.

One need only count the dead bodies of mangled supporters the SNP has thrown under a bloody bus to see how intolerant the party’s elite has become. It is an alarming development in a list of wild, eccentric, vindictive actions the First Minister has seen happen, and indeed initiated, under her crass leadership. The lesson we are given is a political party determined to protect itself and its power at the cost of political freedoms.

The one party elected to free us from conformity is hell bent on imposing obedience, the very shackle we want removed called British rule. The SNP is now emulating Westminster diktat, in this instance, the UK government’s back-door amendments to the ‘Policing Bill’. When one understands and acknowledges British rule is colonial and tyrannical what does that make the SNP, a defensive group of skulls, giving us a good impression of authoritarian, bullying laggards?

Nothing describes the SNP’s descent towards an impression of Angry Birds than its choice of slogans in recent years where they use words that shout ‘clenched fist’: “Stronger for Scotland”, and yet we watch our MPs demonstrating how weak and useless they are to alter anything. This is a lack of a strategy and any willingness to confront the Tory party.

The environmental activist George Monbiot is worried why we are not on the streets screaming blue murder. Among the new amendments are measures that would ban protesters from attaching themselves to another person, to an object, or to land. Our MPs in the Gothic House of Horrors blithely continue to warn the Tory party they will live to regret what they do, and then repeat the same lame reprimand the next day, and the day after. We are forming a police state.

(Words in blue are links to information.)

The Police State of Boris and Nicola

This is proper police state stuff. The last-minute amendments crowbarred by the government into the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill are a blatant attempt to stifle protest, of the kind you might expect in Russia or Egypt. Priti Patel, the home secretary, shoved 18 extra pages into the bill after it had passed through the Commons, and after the second reading in the House of Lords. It looks like a deliberate ploy to avoid effective parliamentary scrutiny. Yet in most of the media there’s a resounding silence.

Among the new amendments are measures that would ban protesters from attaching themselves to another person, to an object, or to land. Not only would they make locking on – a crucial tool of protest the world over – illegal, but they are so loosely drafted that they could apply to anyone holding on to anything, on pain of up to 51 weeks’ imprisonment.

It would also become a criminal offence to obstruct in any way major transport works from being carried out, again with a maximum sentence of 51 weeks. This looks like an attempt to end meaningful protest against road-building and airport expansion. Other amendments would greatly expand police stop and search powers. The police would be entitled to stop and search people or vehicles if they suspect they might be carrying any article that could be used in the newly prohibited protests, presumably including placards, flyers and banners. Other new powers would grant police the right to stop and search people without suspicion, if they believe that protest will occur “in that area”. Anyone who resists being searched could be imprisoned for – you guessed it – up to 51 weeks.

English stop and search powers

Existing stop and search powers are used disproportionately against Black and Brown people, who are six times as likely to be stopped as white people. The new powers would create an even greater disincentive for people of colour to protest. Then the media can continue to berate protest movements for being overwhelmingly white and unrepresentative.

Perhaps most outrageously, the amendments contain new powers to ban named people from protesting. The grounds are extraordinary, in a nation that claims to be democratic. We can be banned if we have previously committed “protest-related offences”. Thanks to the draconian measures in the rest of the bill – many of which pre-date these amendments – it will now be difficult to attend a protest without committing an offence. Or we can be banned if we have attended or “contributed to” a protest that was “likely to result in serious disruption”. Serious disruption, as the bill stands, could mean almost anything, including being noisy. If you post something on social media that encourages people to turn up, you could find yourself on the list. Anyone subject to one of these orders, like a paroled prisoner, might be required to present themselves to the authorities at “particular times on particular days”. You can also be banned from associating with particular people or “using the internet to facilitate or encourage” a “protest-related offence”.

The powers of a dictator

These are dictators’ powers. The country should be in uproar over them, but we hear barely a squeak. The Kill the Bill protesters have tried valiantly to draw our attention to this tyrant’s gambit, and have been demonised for their pains. Otherwise, you would barely know it was happening.

Protest is an essential corrective to the mistakes of government. Had it not been for the tactics Patel now seeks to ban, the pointless and destructive road-building programme the government began in the early 1990s would have continued: eventually John Major’s government conceded it was a mistake, and dropped it. Now governments are making the greatest mistake in human history – driving us towards systemic environmental collapse – and Boris Johnson’s administration is seeking to ensure that there is nothing we can do to stop it.

The government knows the new powers are illegitimate, otherwise it would not have tried to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. These brutal amendments sit alongside Johnson’s other attacks on democracy, such as the proposed requirement for voter ID, which could deter 2 million potential electors, most of whom are poor and marginalised; the planned curtailment of the Electoral Commission; the assault on citizens’ rights to mount legal challenges to government policy; and the proposed “civil orders” that could see journalists treated as spies and banned from meeting certain people and visiting certain places.

Where is everyone?

Why isn’t this all over the front pages? Why aren’t we out on the streets in our millions, protesting while we still can? We use our freedoms or we lose them. And we are very close to losing them.

NOTE: George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist.

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10 Responses to Our Police State

  1. Gordon Hastie says:

    The irony is that Guardian readers – or most of them – will think it’s so much better in Scotland (because like most of the MSM the Graun’s giving Sturgeon an easy ride – at the moment), where a human rights campaigner and former ambassador was jailed for responsible journalism and released only yesterday.

  2. Robert McAllan says:

    Leaving Europe has reinforced the foundations on which the Conservative Party sit enabling them to gerrymander and commit to legislation draconian bills designed to excise dissent in whichever form it might present. The SNP led government at Holyrood has found succour in this event.

    The recent intent of the Scottish Government to prevent public association within the precincts of our Parliament at Holyrood is but another example of the contempt and hostility our elected representatives demonstrate tae haud us doon in oor place.

    Contentious legislative proposals due before Holyrood in this current parliamentary session are already giving rise to public concern and it would appear our Government has predetermined to deny us our democratic right to lobby within the confines of our own Parliament. Sturgeon and her lickspittles MUST be held to account for their brazen contempt.

  3. Pingback: Our Police State — Grouse Beater – It's shite being Scottish

  4. Howard Cairns says:

    What a Draconian law. Why aren’t all the people out in the streets! We need everyone out there all at once. Let them try stopping that!

    In 1971 I worked in The Netherlands and the Government there decide that they would add some new questions to the upcoming Census. They were questions like: What were your sexual preferences? Have you ever had sex with your sister, mother, father – tick the boxes. Another one was state your religious belief. The whole of the Netherlands was in uproar about this the day after the questions were published in the papers. Not least because during WW2 when the Nazis invaded Holland they went straight to the Town Halls and took the carefully registered details of everyone in the counties, including religions. Then they went and grabbed all the Jews and sent them to the concentration camps.

    In 1971, The Government warned that if you refused to fill in the Census you would be jailed. All the papers had huge headlines the next day saying: BUILD MORE JAILS! The government backed down and removed these questions.

    Scots need to stand together and force this policing bill to be removed!

  5. xsticks says:

    “Where is everyone? Why isn’t this all over the front pages? ”

    One of the foundations of a good democracy is a strong and independent press. The UK no longer has a strong and independent press.

    It has never had

  6. Jan Cowan says:

    We need a leader. But Sturgeon + cohorts make sure any likely person is shot down from within the SNP or jailed. Our hope would be a group of leaders progressing together. I’m sure that’s being organised right now.

  7. lorncal says:

    Most of the UK media, especially the MSM, is a disgrace to democracy. Xstick is quite right: there was always a good portion of the press in the past that was far from being independent. In-depth analysis is always necessary when any government anywhere, at any time, issues any legislation, but, more and more, this has become the realm of the bloggers. This was precisely why Craig Murray was made an example of recently. He would have fared no worse had he actually stated all the women’s names in black and white.

    The thing is that both Johnson’s and Sturgeon’s governments have been pre empting legislation, misrepresenting legislation and acting in a manner that is entirely prejudicial to societal norms in a democratic state. In both cases, their lackeys have driven a bulldozer through existing law in order to further the interests of the state (themselves). For example, lobbying groups whose interests are wholly inimical to the well-being of the nation(s), are enabled by corruption and greed and ideology to have it all their own way. The UK has never actually had a revolution as such: every time it has threatened their hegemony, British governments have reacted with force, then become placatory so that they do not inflame the already ignited spirit of dissent. They have become complacent and fat on their own hubris and sanctimony.

  8. Pingback: “Scottish National Party (SNP), has lost touch with the people who elected it, a… Locksmith 24/7 Call Now 1-833-702-1647 – Franklin News

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