“The freedom to protest is a fundamental right our party will forever fight to uphold. But it must be within the law.”
Rather than fighting to uphold the right to protest, Priti Patel has been amending new legislation to clamp down on it. For example, in response to the Insulate Britain protests, the home secretary said she would introduce prison sentences up to six months long for Insulate Britain protesters, saying she would amend new legislation to bring in tougher sentences and give police powers to seize equipment that protesters could use to lock themselves on to fixed objects. She also applied for court injunctions to stop Insulate Britain campaigners from bringing motorways to a standstill. The current fines for blocking a highway are up to £1,000.
Meanwhile, the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill contains a slew of new restrictions on demonstrations, in addition to additional surveillance and stop-and-search powers, and provisions that will effectively criminalise the way of life of Gypsy and Traveller communities.
Priti Patel was telling the truth when she told Tory Party Conference that “The freedom to protest is a fundamental right.” However she misled delegates when she said that the government would “fight to uphold” the freedom to protest. Rather than fighting to uphold the right to protest she was introducing new restrictions.
We contacted the Home Secretary to give her the opportunity to respond to this verdict. She did not reply.