MP COLUMN: Sinister undertones beneath Police Bill

Last week the Conservatives rushed through the mammoth 307-page long Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts bill.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 7:00 am
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck.

This outrageously lengthy bill is full of seemingly benign features, but has sinister undertones lurking beneath the surface.

Most concerning is the powers it gives police to disrupt and break up protests it deems are ‘causing public nuisance’, along with measures that may lead to a 10-year jail sentence for damaging statues.

This country has a long tradition of protests being drivers of great advances in our society. The suffragettes, civil rights movement, and trade unionists, which I myself was a part of, are all examples of protests on the right side of history that caused what could be considered a public nuisance.

The statue of Emily Wilding Davison sits in Carlisle park to celebrate her as a pioneer of the suffragette movement and a public nuisance who forced through transformational change for the rights of women in this country.

The irony is there for everyone to see that under this bill one may get 10-years in jail for defacing her statue, despite the fact the same bill would have her locked up for the actions that her statue is there commemorating in the first place.

More worrying is that this is yet another development alongside the Spycops Bill, and the Overseas Operations Bill that encourage abuses of power to undermine dissent. This authoritarian slide must be opposed by anyone interested in keeping their civil liberties no matter where they lie on the political spectrum.

Ian Lavery, Wansbeck MP