Right of Protest

Here’s a good idea folks!

I promised to publicise this wheeze and hope everyone will join Mr Pope in his protest.

I pledge to do the same.


protest at Westminster.jpg

“I will form part of a human chain around the Westminster no protest zone but only if 6,000 other people will join in.”
— Richard

Deadline to sign up by: 15th January 2007
1,046 people have signed up, 4954 more needed
Country: United Kingdom

More details
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) bans the right of protest (unless it is cleared by a commissioner 6 days in advance) within a 1km radius of the UK’s seat of government. The area covers the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, most government ministries, St Thomas’s Hospital, part of the South Bank and Lambeth Palace.

As such the zone presents a threat to freedom of speech in that it prevents people’s voices being heard by those who make our laws. Since it would be illegal to protest about this the zone, the pledge aims to organise a 100% legal protest just outside the zone.

Sign up now! here

49 thoughts on “Right of Protest”

  1. i would be most fascinated in having a look at this, for me there is no higher cause than that of civil liberties…and maybe getting the lefties out of government, although they do seem awfully right wing for a socialist government.

  2. Cum on Vicus!

    I’m sure you are for free speech – surely?! anything goes – love/peace…come on – we know you well enough – peaceful protests are in and you would be exemplary

  3. Boris Johnson MP support the Human Chain around the Designated Area pledge

    At the other end of the political spectrum from rikki (see the previous post) is the Conservative Member of Parliament and journalist Boris Johnson. Boris, via his “Right of Protest” blog article, is supporting the PledgeBank Human Chain Pledge: “I…

  4. I fully support you from over here in the Colonies. And when you are all arrested, insist on being extradited to the US to face trial there…the Yanks will be so confused and overwhelmed that they’ll probably send you all to Disneyland.

    Melissa, be nice to Vicus; he’s just come from the US of A and is naturally somewhat reluctant to be returned to her pudgy shores.

  5. I rememberthat post a few months back – I’m impressed.

    Is the protest at the weekend?

  6. ‘although they do seem awfully right wing for a socialist government’ (Dave)

    What on Earth do you mean Dave? How can you equate this ‘slap-on-the-wrist-stalinism’ with right wing?

  7. Wings are for the birds! Birds, schmirds!

    I think the rule of law is prior to civil liberties because without such there is no way of even a partial guranatee of civil liberties. Naturally civil liberties then ensure that the rule of law does not rumble over us.

  8. Right of Protest

    I may find myself having to come back to the UK sometime after January 15th next year. As Boris explains. A Pledgebank well worth signing up for I think. Anyone know if those Bollocks to Blair t-shirts will still be

  9. I’m game, not being able to protest outside of the home of our democracy is a grotesque affront to our right to free speech. I love this little wheeze. See you guys there…

  10. I think I signed up, I don’t like people googling my name so I ticked the box, then it asked me if I’d ever pledged anything before then sent me an email because I haven’t. So I think I’m signed up, it aint as easy as having a quick rant on here though.

  11. I’m all for it, but before I sign up can someone explain what they’re planning to do about the river?

  12. Vicus,

    You have to be right – we’re all in this together hand in hand

    However Mark G does have a good point – how to form a human link over the river? we would need all the floats we could get – or we could all be suspended from mini hot air balloons to reflect what goes on in the chamber, or more accurately, the spin doctoring department of 10 Downing St.

  13. I’ve just measured 15 people and their hands are .94m apart on average if they hold their arms out at a comfortable level rather than fully extended. (no children or dwarves in the sample)

    On this basis you’ll need +/- 6700 people to surround the ‘total exclusion zone’

    It’s also unlikely that you’ll be able to manage a perfect circle because of large buildings, rivers and monuments to industry being in the way. Using a map of London it looks to me that the perimeter would need to be about 8.8Kms unless you’re proposing to use explosives. This would require about 9,400 normal sized people if you don’t want to ‘penetrate the circle’.

    Then you can all look forward to having your own circles penetrated in the holding cells.

  14. Charming; I thought prison rape jokes were an American thing, silly me.

    In Vancouver we made a chain of small boats from the West End to Kits Beach. I don’t know the distance involved, but it’s more of a lake-distance than a river-distance, so it can be done. Spread the word to boaters.

  15. Making common cause with a bunch of leftist soap-dodgers is grating. I’ll think about it.

    The commenters at the pledge site sound like Dave Spart.

  16. ‘Making common cause with a bunch of leftist soap-dodgers is grating. I’ll think about it.’ (Martin)

    Whilst thinking into my pint of lager last night it dawned on me that this thing could end up being hijacked by the revolutionary communists, stop-the-war coalition, animal rights activists etc.

    What is being done to ensure that the protest is just a protest about not being allowed to protest?

  17. I’ve just been reading the ‘Serious Organised Crime Act’ (the one that bans the protests).

    They have used it to repeal section 6 of the Vagrancy Act 1824. This gave ordinary British citizens (well ‘any person whatsoever’ actually) the power to ‘apprehend any person who shall be found offending against this Act, and forthwith to take and convey him or her before some justice of the peace … or deliver him or her to any constable…’

    This basically meant anyone begging or anyone who was on someone elses land (or inthe open air) and could not give good account of themselves.

    They have replaced this with the power for community Support Officers to require the vargrant to stay with them for ‘a period not exceeding 30 minutes, for the arrival of a constable’.

    So what next time any of you find someone wondering around your back garden, drunk on your front lawn etc? Well whatever you do don’t touch them, find a CSO to deal with it!

    Also you are not allowed to drag beggars and junkies kicking and screaming to the Magistrates Courts any longer guys.

  18. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it a little odd that a Member of Parliament is helping to organise a protest against a law which was presumably enacted by, well, erm, Members of Parliament such as himself.

    In such circumstances, one would normally suppose that such an MP would ask questions, make speeches, table motions, and so forth, within the House itself. Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?

    If he feels that it is necessary to engage extra-Parliamentary agencies to accomplish this goal, it rather suggests to me that Parliament has ceased to perform its function. One reason for this may be that it is Mr Blare who now decides what will and will not be law, and the Parliament is simply his compliant rubber stamp.

    If this is the case, then surely what is needed is some sort of Parliamentary reform that returns power to Parliament from an over-powerful, indeed near-Presidential, executive.

    Or is all that democracy stuff a thing of the past in modern Britain?

  19. Boris, Thanks for helping publicise my pledge on your blog – it’s great to see a democratic representative standing up for democracy for once (SOCPA, NatWest 3, ID cards etc seem to be taking us in the other direction at the moment).

    There have been over 70+ sign ups since you blogged about it. which is very encouraging!

    What idlex said is a valid point – but I don’t think many MPs realised quite the extent of what they were voting for. Certainly the media coverage at the time suggested it was just about getting shot of Brian Haw (who was an inconvenience to many of them) rather than banning *all* protest.

    RE Martins point about soap-dodgers and the comments on the pledge – I grant you there are a few odd ones on there, but hey it’s the internet! Seriously though, from the emails Ive received I think there are sign ups from across the political spectrum.

    Personally I think the key to rolling back these kind of infringements on our liberties is actually going to come from libertarian small/big c conservatives where there is a tradition of resisting these kind of arrangements. Anyone on the left is to easily tagged as anti-blair / anti-war.

    ps. Just to clarify things further this would be a 100% legal protest, outside the SOCPA zone and not blocking any roads (or waterways).

  20. The loyal members of the Norfolk constabulary remain concerned about the Prime Minister’s sensibilities.

    Hunting people coined the slogan “Bollocks to Blair” but the police in Norfolk think it is offensive and slapped an £80 fixed penalty notice on stallholder Tony Wright for selling T-shirts carrying the message at the County Show last week.

    Last month a 20 year old female gamekeeper was arrested for a similar offence.

    Bollocks to Blair, I say.

  21. Commons Speaker Michael Martin was elected by MPs as impartial referee for ALL parties.

    Sadly, the ex-Glasgow docker never managed to shed his socialist sympathies.

    The chippy class warrior sits on his hands when Labour MPs bellow – and silences everyone else the moment they raise their voice.

    But even “Gorbals Mick” went too far yesterday by banning questions on John Prescott’s links with US billionaire Philip Anschutz.

    He ruled them out of order because watchdogs have launched an inquiry (???).

    MPs want to know why Prescott stayed at the tycoon’s ranch while Mr. Anschutz was in talks about turning the Dome into Britain’s first super casino.

    Prezza had SEVEN meetings with Mr.Anschutz – but declared NONE of them until the embarassing story broke.

    Such secrecy and subterfuge stinks. The Commons is the place to clear the air. Tory MPs are entitled to ask what the hell is going on.

    And it is Speaker Michael Martin who is out of order in trying to stop them.

    Bollocks to Michael Martin, I say.

  22. Steven L, I understand your concern about not breaking any laws. It appears the protest would be entirely legal, right on the border where protests are banned. I, myself, would rather have seen an entirely illegal protest of thousands of people within the “George Orwell Wuz Rite Zone.” It would be impossible for the police to arrest everyone, and arresting only a few would be a massive, and very public, failure. Besides, they should all be out busting foxhunters, right?

    If they arrest you, demand to be extradited to the United States.

  23. Or is all that democracy stuff a thing of the past in modern Britain? [Idlex]


    But isn’t it time to redefine democracy? I wonder what the state of play would be if everyone – and I mean everyone – could cast a Yes or No vote by internet.

    No doubt this is a political theory that’s been examined closely by people more expert than myself. But I’m still curious about the theoretical outcome of such a system on matters like ID cards, home information packs, Europe, renaming Penny Lane because it has an association with the slave trade…

  24. Raincoaster, then why don’t you come to the UK for a jolly with us! I’ll even buy you a drink!

  25. (Off topic): – John Prescott likes to dress up in cowboy gear to impress the ladies. One thing’s for sure, though. If the rumours are true about the size of his… chipolata, he certainly isn’t packing a six-shooter.

  26. It’s not the size. It’s how many times you can shoot without reloading.

    Steven L, I’d love to come over there, but haven’t got the airfare or the passport (long story, not what you think). You, on the other hand, have only to be of interest to the US authorities to get a free flight to Texas. Follow the Sonoran desert north and you’ll be in BC. But you can still buy me a drink when you get here.

    First Mac, now Steven. I’m more popular in the UK than I am around here.

  27. It’s not the size. It’s how many times you can shoot without reloading

    Really? Good grief I must catch up on this thread!

  28. ‘Steven L, I’d love to come over there, but haven’t got the airfare or the passport’

    Damn you beat me to the punchline about not being allowed a passport!

  29. Jaq, Prescott’s chipolata is only 2″ long. I mean, how many bullets can you load in a “gun” that long?

  30. You Brits, always confusing your barrel with your cylinder. Just because Prescott’s packing a snub-nose doesn’t mean he isn’t well-endowed in the cylinder department. I mean, just look at him. Pretty damn cylindrical if you ask me.

  31. Oh, raincoaster, you ARE an expert in “concealed guns” !!!

    (Off topic) – There has been much embarrassment at Tory Central Office over the leak of private emails to David Cameron from his common aide Desmond Swayne.

    The email where the flamboyant Swayne tells his boss: “Something dreadful happened to me in Manchester but I cannot put pen to paper. I will tell you later.”

    So what WAS the “dreadful” thing that happened to David Cameron’s dashing Commons aide Desmond Swayne?

    Well, the macho ex-Army major had been out canvassing in Manchester on the first day of a Tory conference but missed the bus back. So he decided to yomp it … only to be propositioned as he sped through a local park. By a MAN. Enough to make Swayne swoon !!!

  32. Is the title “common aide” to differentiate this one from the posh aides? No wonder he was propositioned: he needs to work on his accent, the silly boy!

  33. Mark Oaten, the Lib Dem MP whose “hair loss drove him into the consoling arms of a male escort” , praises his party leader in today’s New Statesman. But he complains that poor old Ming Campbell only gets to ask the PM two questions “which makes it difficult to land a meaningful … blow.”

    We’ll just have to take your word for it, Mr. Oaten (giggle).

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