Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/396/4498
Fight for the right to organise
THE SOCIALIST previously reported on how basic democratic rights are under attack in Tony Blair's New 'authoritarian' Britain. So-called national security and the 'fight against terrorism' are used as a cover for some of the most repressive legislation ever introduced in this country. These include the sanctioning of evidence obtained under torture for use in British courts and detention without trial.
Other legislation ostensibly to deal with terrorism is actually used against protesters. The Terrorism Act 2000, section 44, is used to stop, search and to detain anti-war protesters. Blair has threatened to place G8 protesters intending to travel to Scotland, in July, under house arrest. And the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill has big implications for the right to protest, like turning trespass from a civil offence into a criminal offence in designated areas. This is clearly aimed at protesters.
The judgement on the May Day Detainees case, heard in the High Court, earlier this year, gives a green light to police to round up and to detain protesters under the flimsiest pretext.
As well as this, local councils up and down Britain are trying to stop left parties from campaigning and organising. They are putting up obstacles to make it more difficult for socialist and activists to organise.
In particular, Socialist Party members are facing harassment from local councils. For example, in Manchester, Wythenshawe and Warrington city centres the Socialist Party is currently prevented from holding public campaigning stalls, leafleting or selling papers. In Gloucester and Cheltenham we face severe restrictions. London councils accuse the Socialist Party of fly-posting and are threatening legal action.
This amounts to a political attack by councils to hamper and to stop the work of the Socialist Party.
Like the right to protest, the right to organise politically is fundamental and a gain that was fought for and won by the working class.
All attempts to stop the Socialist Party from campaigning must be challenged. The Socialist Party is launching a campaign for our right to organise. Socialist Party branches under attack from local councils should contact the National Office for the new campaigning literature and for legal advice.
In The Socialist 9 June 2005: