The Conservative leadership campaign has diverted attention from various Acts of Parliament which were in the legislative pipeline before Boris Johnson was so ignominiously forced to resign.
They will no doubt return when Parliament reconvenes after the summer recess and a new Prime Minister has been installed.
The Public Order bill, the National Security Bill, the already passed Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill and the proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act all constitute fundamental restrictions on British democracy according to activist groups and critics.
The House of Lords, not exactly a hotbed of radicalism, voted against clauses in the Police bill, but they were overruled by the House of Commons. The Lords have also expressed concerns about the Government’s intention to repeal the Human Rights Act, as have more than fifty groups such as Amnesty International, Liberty, and the Council of Europe.
Peace protests at nuclear weapons sites and military bases would be at risk under the proposed National Security Bill. The police would be allowed to order people to leave if they were even adjacent to a designated site such as Aldermaston or the US base at RAF Fairford.
The Public Order Bill would give the courts powers to enforce the fitting of electronic ankle tags to prevent people from attending demonstrations and to prevent them using the internet to organise protests. Grounds would include suspicion that they might ‘interfere with key national infrastructure’; this to be defined at the discretion of the Home Secretary of the day.
Under this bill, dangerous tunnelling by protestors will be an offence punishable by up to three years in prison. Prisoners who escaped from Colditz would be turning in their graves!
The campaign group Big Brother Watch say “Today you are watched by a network of intelligence surveillance systems. You are tracked by your personal devices, monitored by social platforms, and targeted by invasive corporations. You may not know their names. But they know yours.”
David G Evans.
This article appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo in August 2022
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are those of local Party members and do not necessarily reflect the Labour Party.