I spoke in a Petitions Committee debate on the right to protest last night, prompted by this petition (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/579012), which has been signed by almost a quarter of a million people, including thousands in Bristol. The right to peaceful and legal protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and, whilst it is sometimes inconvenient, I think our country is better off for it.
I have serious concerns about some of the provisions in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would force the police to determine what sort of protests are deemed legitimate, and what sort of protests are not. This could set a worrying precedent for political interference in how protests are policed, and put at risk the degree to which police can be politically impartial, as they should be. Of course criminal behaviour during protests cannot be condoned, but we already have laws in place to deal with that. Part 3 of this Bill is an undemocratic, politically-motivated, attempt to silence the Government’s critics, and as such, should be resisted.
You can watch my speech in full here.