Peaceful protest, Steve Bray, the police and a letter to Sheryll Murray

Meme by Sadie Parker

Many of you will have seen Steve Bray on television, holding his placards and flags aloft, calling out the lies and hypocrisy of the politicians being interviewed on Brexit. Some of you may have joined him on his near daily protests outside parliament or 10 Downing Street. For many, he has become the embodiment of a conscience that those in power seem to lack.

Here is an image of Steve with a policeman in the days before Patel’s nasty Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill became law; he had an amicable relationship with the Police who (largely) respected his right to peaceful protest until they were empowered to crack down. And don’t forget, this is now a police force in “special measures” following a ‘litany of systemic failures’ and a number of shocking scandals, including the handling of the Sarah Everard murder case and the strip-searching of Child Q.

But, of course, we know why Steve is a target and why the police turned up in numbers to confiscate his equipment and threaten him with charges. This is a politicised force acting on behalf of a government which cannot tolerate scrutiny, let alone outright criticism; a government packed with ministers and MPs who will not answer direct questions about their broken promises, corruption, Russian influence or Brexit lies. Steve Bray is indefatigable in his determination to call them out. Yes, he’s noisy. That’s the point. The truth needs to be shouted to drown out the endless lies. But a law to shut him up? Is this North Korea? Russia?

Carl Garner has written to Sheryll Murray, his MP in South East Cornwall. His sentiments will be shared by many, for sure.

“I am writing to you, but also copying in news organisations and opposition MPs because this matter is so fundamentally important. You rarely take anything that is said on board and represent the views of your constituency, and merely offer generic three line party line responses, so maybe one of the others copied in will pay more heed. 

I am disgusted to see that the police harassed and confiscated the equipment of Steve Bray, a noisy and annoying but otherwise peaceful protestor.

How uncomfortable in its own skin does the party in power have to be to design a law that targets someone you disagree with?

How weak and authoritarian do you have to be to wish to silence someone who stands up to you by doing nothing more than disrupting your TV interviews to say something that an increasing majority of the UK population now feel?

All this clause in the police and crime bill does is to highlight that the government cannot coherently defend its own policies, because if it would rather silence peaceful protestors than come up with a coherent and strong defence against them, proving that it is the policies that are fundamentally bad, not those calling them out.

We are a democracy, and in a democracy we have disagreements. I personally fundamentally disagree with pretty much everything that you personally do or stand for; you do not represent mine or indeed the majority of our constituents views. I think many of your views are abhorrent, and the way that you vote is regressive and damaging to this nation. I think that when you do get the chance to talk in parliament you waste it on populist nonsense and I think your voting record is abysmal. But I will defend your right to free speech regardless of what I think of what you say or how noisily or disruptively you decide to say it.

Why then are MPs willing to silence those who oppose them or “cause them annoyance?”. If a political party can’t take criticism of its policies then its members should either get another job or, heaven forbid, should make policies that are better for the many, not just the few!

It’s simple. Protesters call out poor policy decisions with the objective of making the government of the land aware of the mood of the nation and making you all raise your game.

ANY laws that curb this in any way should not exist: they are dangerous and damaging to the principles of this great nation and its democratic discourse. The only protests that should be controlled are those that involve violence or criminal damage, NOT ones that simply involve “annoyance or disturbance”. 

What happened yesterday is more akin to what happens in Putin’s Russia, it must be reversed and stopped immediately. Our democracy is in danger from disgusting policies like this. Please stand up for the right to protest before it’s too late. “

He’s right. The government is wrong.

In case you have not noticed, this Johnson government is pretty hell-bent on reducing or even removing your human rights. We cannot stand by silently and watch this happen, can we? Annoying protestors have changed the world for the better. Equally, annoying protestors, including Steve, XR, Insulate Britain, Black Lives Matter etc, are trying their best to stop those in power changing it for the worse.

Happy postscript: in true law of unintended consequences style, events have massively backfired on Patel, with an astonishing and heart-warming surge in support for Steve and his campaign. You can donate here.