Tories strengthen repressive laws in anticipation of discontent

Police surveillance, photo Paul Mattsson

Police surveillance, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Maddy Steeds, Manchester and Salford Socialist Party

The Tories have added further amendments to the controversial Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill in an attempt to restrict people’s ability to protest. Clearly the government and the bosses can sense working-class anger at their policies and declining living standards.

The original proposal to increase sentences for protestors was met with a wave of protests across the UK. Despite this, the bill was passed by MPs, and new changes to make the bill even more restrictive have been proposed.

The new proposals will give the police the power to stop and search anyone at a protest, without requiring any suspicion of a crime. Furthermore, in response to the actions of Insulate Britain, harsher penalties for those blocking motorways have been suggested. Finally, those accused of causing serious disruption, regardless of whether they have ever been sentenced, may be banned from attending further protests.

It is important to struggle against the introduction of further repressive legislation. But in the face of mass movements that win public support, the government will find these new laws hard to enforce. During the Covid-19 lockdowns we saw small protests being penalised under the guise of ‘endangering public health’, but no such penalties were enforced on larger demonstrations.

The attempt of the state to increase their power through this bill simply underlines the importance of solidarity across movements. The working class is the strongest force in society, and the new bill will not be able to crush a protest when workers are out en masse. Socialist change can be achieved in society regardless of the road blocks placed by the state, but to overcome those obstacles we must get organised to unite and fight.