Tractors, Elections And Protest

Tractors, Elections And Protest

Monday, 2 May 2022

WHILE the UK remains successfully distracted by the allegations that Tiverton and Honiton MP, Neil Parish, viewed porn while in the House of Commons, two important pieces of legislation finally passed through the House of Lord with barely a whimper from a media who prefer to toady to the Tories rather than hold them accountable.

The Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill which has been championed by Home Secretary, Priti Patel, passed through the Lords and in effect curtailed our right to protest. Supporters of the bill will claim it isn’t stopping protest, only encouraging cooperation with the police and ensuring protests do not ‘disturb the peace. Now I don’t know if you have been to any protests recently but they don’t tend to be quiet affairs, if they are they are bloody useless and no one takes any notice of you. I’m not advocating the smashing up of shops or the torching of busses in the street, but the entire point of a protest is to be noisy, to be heard and to make those in positions of power uncomfortable. Without protest women would have never won the vote, the Tolpuddle Martyrs would have remained in Australia and the poll tax would not have been overturned.

Passing the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing bill is essentially removing our right to complain through protests and it is an outright assault on British democracy.

Without protest women would have never won the vote, the Tolpuddle Martyrs would have remained in Australia and the poll tax would not have been overturned

The fact Patel has championed this bill since its inception should not surprise us. She is a woman who was forced to resign by Teresa May for holding authorised meetings with a foreign power, who believes the death penalty is effective regardless of evidence to suggest otherwise, who wants to turn Royal Navy ships on desperate migrants in dingy s and push them back into one of the world busiest shipping lanes and who now wants to send asylum seekers to Rwanda regardless of the cost to the British public and Rwanda’s human rights record.

As the bill stands protests will only be allowed if local police consent to it, even then they can break up the protest using violence and arrests if they deem it to be ‘disturbing the peace’ or people ‘find intimidating’ Coupled with this prison sentences are potentially lengthy essentially creating a new era of political prisoners.

We all know the types of protests this will adversely affect, protests against racism, women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ issues, anti-war and anything remotely lefty. In short anything the government deem unsuitable. If you are a statue of Winston Churchill then all resources will be directed to protecting you, if you are a person of colour protesting against systemic racism or a woman protesting against misogynistic abuse then you can expect to be beaten, arrested and imprisoned for daring to stand up for yourself.

If you think that’s bad enough, another bill has passed through parliament this week, the Elections Bill, a bill which will see the way elections are administered and controlled and which includes the introduction of voter ID, an addition which is estimated to disenfranchise 2 million voters in the UK. 2 million voters who are predominately people of colour and/or poor. People who are the most unlikely to ever vote Tory. 2 million people off the electoral register with no voice, no representation and who Tory councils and MPs everywhere can just ignore.

It will also see the Electrol Commission being held to account to a single party – the Tories – in the guise of the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission where the Tories have a single-party majority. The Commission itself has stated the proposal would ‘place a fetter on the Commission which would limit its activity.’

In addition to that, the bill would also allow the Minister for the Constitution to attend Speaker’s Committee meetings and removed the potential for the commission to bring criminal prosecutions against those who break electoral law relating to parties and campaigns.

That all sounds…undemocratic

Of course, the Neil Parish allegations are important in their own right, they simply show how deeply misogynistic parliament is, and that is a whole parliament problem, not just a Tory problem. However Tractor-gate has proven to be a useful diversion for the Tories as while people have been laughing over tractor related puns and wondering if Parish is going to buy himself a new combine harvester now that he has resigned his seat, it has proven highly effective in kicking the dirt over the dismantling of our democracy and we need to plough it back up to the surface and harvest some good old fashioned change from the wreckage.

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