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SOCPA - the end of this law? or new restrictions?

rikki | 24.06.2007 17:02 | SOCPA | Repression | London

a story has hit the weekend newspapers that brown will announce the repeal of socpa restrictions on the right to protest outside parliament. but the stories also hint that the repeal may be accompanied by new regulations on the style of protests. the socpa law did not succeed in its main target, to rid brian haw from the square. is brown trying something else in the guise of libertarianism.

as the maker of 'socpa - the movie', i am obviously delighted by the news this weekend that brown will repeal the sections of the act restricting protest around parliament, but i am greeting the story with a high level of suspicion until we see all the facts.

there are two elements i am concerned about.

firstly the story only mentions the restrictions around parliament. what about the section 128 designated sites (the american airbases and uk military bases used to facilitate the illegal wars in afghanistan and iraq). will they still be so protected that anyone trespassing will be liable to a prison sentence? there is no mention of any repeal of this.

secondly, there are quotes in the news pieces that lead me to believe that actually brown is going to change the effect of the law rather than repeal it. it is widely believed among knowledgeable commentators, that socpa 132-138 (the parliamnent square bits) were originally designed to get rid of 6-year constant protestor brian haw, with his large display against genocide. the law (hurriedly drafted) has failed to do this, and has made the police and the law courts look like fools (see my film 'socpa - the movie', showing soon, after a succesful premiere last week - pardon the unashamed plug).

to quote from the news story:
"The restored right to protest outside parliament will be combined with plans to bolster the protection of the Palace of Westminster and key ministries and government buildings along Whitehall. The Sunday Times has seen a memo from Sir

Richard Mottram, chairman of the joint intelligence committee, outlining plans to erect barriers, walls, balustrades and bollards around Parliament Square.

Brown believes the right of the public to protest and demonstrate is crucial to democracy, although he is said to be aware of MPs’ concerns that previous noisy demonstrations in Parliament Square have caused an eyesore and distracted workers in nearby buildings.

One Brown ally said last night: “The legitimate right to peaceful protests, marches and rallies does not mean the right to set up permanent eyesores in the square or the right to abuse policemen and passers-by.”

Iraq remains a highly divisive issue for Labour. Last week, an antiwar protester kicked Brown’s car"

from this peace it seems clear to me that there are very serious and formulated plans to change the look of parliament square and to clear the 'eyesore' of brian haw's constant reminder to the war criminals in westminster.

don't believe the hype!

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A small victory?

24.06.2007 17:34

To me this looks like a tactical retreat by Brown, which also serves the illusion that he's not as bad as Blair. All the separate applications under the SOCPA laws must have taken up many hours of police time, and cost a lot of money. Since they haven't been able to get rid of Brian Haw, the government may believe it isn't worth their while keeping the ban in force.

Neon Black
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not a victory

24.06.2007 18:34

the more i think about this and re-read the articles, i am certain this is no victory.

the original intention of the law was to get rid of brian haw. it was hurriedly written, it failed, and it made police and courts look like idiots. the original intention is there more than ever (brown wants to distance himself from the iraq genocide that he as chancellor funded and he will not stand another six years of protestors reminding him of this fact every day). parliament square will be pedestrianised, new 'security' bollards and fences will be erected, and brian haw's space will not be protected. watch this space very carefully.



Display the following 6 comments

  1. We will win in the end... — Jubal Harshaw
  2. Ask Gordon Brown — inquirer
  3. Worried — Concerned
  4. Rock on, rikki — Bon Chance
  5. What ever happened to twilight? — .
  6. "a peculiarly British victory" — David Blunkett