Hope of preventing the Tories’ oppressive Public order Act seems to be out of reach for most, including Keir Starmer’s Labour, but rare rumblings of rebellion from the House of Lords hope to deal the belligerent bill a ‘fatal’ blow.
Whilst the bulk of the anti-protest legislation is fairly set in Priti Patel-cast stone, one element of the Public order act remains up in the air and, whilst the government flap about trying to get it over the line, Green party Baroness Jenny Jones has her sights on taking it down.
What is ‘serious disruption’? That is what’s causing all the fuss in the normally docile House of Lords, as when the government failed in their attempts to change the interpretation of the phrase to mean ‘anything more than minor’, a sneaky subsequent secondary legislation was submitted which would see the change made anyway. Under this second rate ruling, which has NEVER been used in this capacity before, no amendments would be able to be made, making the entire voting process redundant.
Why Sunak and co. are so desperate to be able to spear tackle anyone with a particularly loud sneeze is unclear but whatever their intentions are, their undermining of an established democratic system is a worrying indication of their desperation to squash any kind of protest.
Labour have only mustered up a snoozy ‘motion of regret’, which literally just means they are formally saying they f*cked up. With an absence of general opposition, Baroness Jones has taken matters into her own hands and tabled the dramatic sounding ‘fatal motion’ to be decided on the 13 June which, if successful, would instantly kill the Tories’ dodgy plans in not-very-Green-party fashion.
In a press statement from the Green party, the Baroness said: “This is a make-or-break moment for parliamentary democracy. The Lords defeated the government on this issue and the Minister is now acting like a seventeenth-century monarch by using a decree to reverse that vote.”
“What is the point of Parliament if a Minister can just ignore the outcome of debates and votes by imposing draconian laws on the public?”
“This is not a one-off, but part of a trend of legislation that undermines parliamentary democracy by giving Ministers increasing powers to make, delete or change laws. In the last four years, we have seen a series of skeleton bills pass through parliament that hand over powers and discretion to Ministers to make decisions with minimal parliamentary scrutiny.”
The issue that Baroness Jones has highlighted is an example of a not-so-subtle slice of undemocratic pie which smells suspicious and has dry flaky pastry. Nobody wants it except them and purple-faced men with anger issues who can’t stand the prospect of their car journey being delayed for a bit.
Read more about the Public order act here: The Public Order Act: the protest ban that threatens democracy
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