Free Speech Crackdown: The Government and Police Are Not Friends of Democracy


No one, absolutely no one wants violence. No one wants to see public or private property damaged. No one wants to see police officers hurt and no one wants to see the public hurt. Okay, that last point was not true because the police force, the establishment, have shown a willingness to hurt people again and again and then blame their victims for their violence. 

If your first instinct when you hear of trouble at a protest is to vilify the people campaigning for our democratic rights, you need to stop and think. You need to think about the women who were slammed onto the ground at a candle-lit vigil. You need to think about how authorities have acted at home and abroad whenever the people have risen up to demand better. Because if you would automatically condemn protesters today, there is a very good chance you would've done so during the Suffragettes movement or the civil rights movement. There's every chance you would've condemned Nelson Mandela's struggle for Black liberation in South Africa. 

The history books show us that when the police clash with the public, the establishment always uses the same playbook. And the protesters who get vilified and criminalised at the time, are always later vindicated by history. 

And the causes we're fighting for today are every bit as important as the causes I've mentioned above. If you disagree with that, it's because you're not in the firing line and you've lost your ability to empathise. Most recently, we've been fighting for arguably our most important right of all. The right to peaceful protest. A right which the Conservative government wants to render completely ineffective. 

If you can only protest when and where the government says you can, start when they say you can, finish when they say you must, only have the numbers they say you can, only make the level of noise they say you can, and only protest in a place they can't see or hear you, a place they can just ignore you, then you don't have the right to protest. You have permission to piss into the wind. 

And it's not just restrictions on protests we're talking about. Somebody was recently arrested for expressing anti-police views on social media. If you're not allowed to criticise authorities or protest their actions, you don't have a democracy. Freedom of speech is supposed to be an inalienable right. It's being taken away from us. And you wonder why people are mad? 

If you take away people's right to peaceful protest and attack them whenever they try to peacefully protest, you know the only remaining option is violence. And if you use the violence you deliberately caused in order to justify further stripping of our human rights, you are a fascist. And what's worse is you may get away with it because the media and privileged people will fully support your actions, knowing they will remain unaffected. This is how fascism grows. 

Martin Luther King jr said a riot is the language of the unheard. JFK said when you make peaceful revolution impossible, you make violent revolution inevitable. And if you don't want that, if you don't want meaningful change, if you want the status quo protected at all costs, including the stripping of people's rights, including imprisonment for those who dissent, that's your privilege showing. Even worse, it's your fascist tendencies showing. 

The United Nations have labelled the Tories' austerity policies economic murder, yet privileged people simply shrug. And the government has given us one of the worst Covid-19 responses in the world because they were desperate to shove us back into unsafe workspaces to generate profit for an elite hiding away in their country mansions. 

The government has sacrificed huge numbers of jobs for under-35s while ensuring the older generation – their base – has remained mostly insulated from the economic impact of the pandemic. They've got younger workers competing with each other for zero hours contracts on minimum wage in dangerous environments. The same people expected to give their meagre earnings to a wealthy older landlord. It's not just class warfare. It's intergenerational warfare. And younger people are expected to give their lives to enrich an older generation who've enjoyed privileges they will never have. A generation who climbed the ladder of socialism and kicked it down. (Apologies to the older socialists out there. You guys are heroes!)

People are living in council houses with water literally pouring through their roofs. Others are raising children in privately-rented houses riddled with dangerous mould. The Tories have repeatedly refused to pass a law making homes fit for human habitation. They're leaving people living in squalor and depending on foodbanks to feed their kids because heaven forbid, we might tax the rich. 

We're not talking about some tiny underclass who is struggling here either. This kind of thing is fast becoming the norm throughout the working class. And the effects of the pandemic, combined with the bonfire of rights that is Tory Brexit and a decade of austerity means things are only going to get worse. 

All of this and more is why people are raising their voices. And when they do so publicly, the police are attacking peaceful protesters and then blaming their victims, knowing the media will play ball. If you speak to protesters like I have, you hear the same story again and again. The same story you hear around the world and all throughout history. The protests were peaceful and then the police arrived with riot gear and started attacking unarmed civilians. And then when it all kicked off, the media reversed the footage to make it seem like the effect preceded the cause. 

Let's not forget the police were last year listing the Extinction Rebellion as extremists and banning foreign climate activists from the country under counter-terror legislation. That's school kids they were treating like terrorists for asking the government to not cause our extinction. 

Britain is not a true democracy. It's certainly not a full democracy and even flawed democracy might be a generous categorisation now. Schools are not allowed to teach kids about alternative economic models to capitalism because the young must be indoctrinated into servitude. We're not allowed to challenge the system in any meaningful way. You can quite literally be arrested for expressing anti-police views on social media now. It's entirely possible they could decide this post is criminal. 

We don't have the freedom to protest in this country and everyone who has ever attended a protest knows this. The police will look for any excuse to disrupt protesters, intimidate them, vilify them, criminalise them, stop them raising their voices. Ask yourself why they feel the need to charge at unarmed civilians with horses. How is that ever proportionate? How is it ever anything other than an incredibly reckless thing to do? And just look at how they slammed women to the ground at the candle-lit vigil for their dead sister who was allegedly murdered by a police officer. 

We don't have a right to peacefully protest without taking a huge risk. And we don't have a right to challenge the establishment because they will resort to the dirtiest of tricks to stop you. Just ask Nicola Sturgeon. Ask Jeremy Corbyn. Ask Julian Assange. Ask the trade unions. Ask them about how police have spied on them, infiltrated them, intimidated them and worse. 

Every method the people come up with to challenge the establishment, the establishment will fight back, and it's certainly not afraid to go to any lengths necessary. Social media is one of the few weapons we have left and you can bet your right arm, they're coming for that next. 

Many of us have desperately fought for peaceful democratic change. And our demands really are not unreasonable: freedom of speech, a living wage, protection of our NHS, meaningful climate action and so on. But they won't let us have these things and they've refused to give the slightest bit of ground. They've not shown a hint of compromise. Instead they've infiltrated and taken over the main opposition party to ensure that no matter what happens at the next general election, nothing will fundamentally change. 

And they have radicalised an entire generation in the process. 

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Comments

  1. Very good and truthful read thank you for your hard work and commitment to helping folk understand the state of this country...

    ReplyDelete

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