Protest, protest and again – protest


Ken Huggins

Along with the looming spectre of unstoppable climate change, the urgent need to resolve the crisis in Gaza stands out at the moment. The horror of the barbaric Hamas attack in Israel on 7th October last year has been followed by the horrors of Israel’s response, which has continued for months now.
While our Parliament ties itself in knots simply trying to agree how to word the call for an end to it all, innocent Palestinians, many of them women and children, are being slaughtered in their thousands. The UK is complicit while it continues to supply Israel with military equipment. You can’t claim the moral high ground and condemn the authoritarian behaviour of other countries’ rulers while happily making money doing business with them.
I applaud the continuing public protests of many Israelis against the actions of their own hard right government.
A lot of hot air
The right to challenge a government’s actions is one of our most precious fundamental democratic rights, but our present UK government is actively seeking to suppress public protests, especially those of environmental groups. The last thing it wants is for attention to be drawn to its disastrous environmental record, and it only wants protests to be allowed when they are done in such a way that they can easily be ignored.
Scientists began warning decades ago of the dire consequences of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
Since 1995, annual international conferences have generated a lot of hot air but completely failed to stop the steady increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Increasingly desperate protests by concerned citizens have mostly drawn hostility from right-wing media, with the Daily Mail, for example, branding protesters ‘eco-zealots’ and recommending French police tactics of tear gas and baton charges.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 and the Public Order Act 2023 are designed to have a chilling effect on public protests, along with the Government urging judges to prevent protesters telling juries why they are protesting. Now there are proposed amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill.
We’re on a slippery slope, and we lose our right to effective protest at our peril.
Ken Huggins
North Dorset Green Party


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