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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.



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What small victory?

24.06.2007 18:53

The Times article describes Brown's promise as 'symbolic gesture' and politicians often make empty promises on their way to power.

Demonstrations in Parliament Square are tradition which Blair has sought to suppress, ever since Churchill's stature was ignominiously daubed with paint in 2000. Fortress Parliament distances itself more and more from the People, with its barriers, bollards and gates. Does it never occur to these politicians that they are primarily responsible for putting themselves at risk, with their illegal wars, their seemingly endless stream of criminalising legislation and government by fear? Since 1970 the prison population has almost trebled.

People will always react against rubbish laws and SOCPA is one of them, ill-conceived and badly implemented. So what is it going to be then in Parliament Square in future, even more barriers, bollards and gates and more criminalising legislation and further cowering from the People or will they finally see the light? I doubt it.

Checkout the Suffragettes in Parliament Square in 1911 and there weren't any gates to Downing Street in those days but there were still terrorists with bombs.


We will win in the end...

24.06.2007 22:01

One day we will march to Parliament Square and we will stay there until the government collapses and the People bring in a new political and economic system of localisation and environmentalism, just you wait and see.

Jubal Harshaw
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Ask Gordon Brown

24.06.2007 23:17

Here's the current e-mail address for Gordon Brown:

Why not ask him what his plans are for SOCPA?



25.06.2007 02:17

This fits (sorry, no pun intended) the current trend of trying to influence the style of protest, rather than the quantity. Didn't a Blair advisor talk recently about wanting to ensure people got involved in the right kind of protest? This appears to be much the same. Silent vigils will be upheld as the ultimate form of civilised protest, chanting and playing music as a form of audio-hooliganism.

I'm worried about the s128 situation as well; Faslane is one of those named sites and it is not implausible that attempting to block the entrance to an s128 offence may become a punishable offence, perhaps not to the same extent as the trespass provision, but enough to ensure that people only hold vigils outside such bases and don't dare to try and mount 'effective' blockades.

All this amounts to an attempt to ensure that protest is ineffective. Democracy, sanitised for the State's convenience.


Rock on, rikki

25.06.2007 17:14

It's always great to get your posts, whatever depths the NWO have descended to on the path to 'full spectrum domination'.

The larger picture is now implying 'resistance is useless' but they haven't factored in the rapidly evolving consciousness of people worldwide.

As those revolting kids put it in comment one - we will win but not just by waiting and seeing, in my view - the more consciousness (as opposed to consumerism-induced apathy) the more chance of stopping these fascists, though time is getting short for the world to transform. It's up to each of us to shine the light of justice on these psychopaths. - Aaron Russo's new film aimed at Americans but equally applicable here.

Bon Chance

What ever happened to twilight?

25.06.2007 20:29

at times like this it'd be interesting to hear his take on things. will blair actually go on wednesday? is there still time for him to engineer a government of national unity?
god, I hope he was wrong all along...


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