Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Banning Protests Is A Dangerous Game

There is something deeply worrying about this.

Council appeals to Alan Johnson to ban right-wing protest

Manchester City Council has called on the Home Secretary to ban a right-wing protest planned for next month.

Now, leaving aside whether one agrees with the EDL protestors or not, if Alan Johnson has the power to ban a protest entirely, for whatever reason, what does it say about our ancient right to free assembly?

Councillor Jim Battle, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: ''Wherever the so-called English Defence League have gone, there has been violence and disruption to ordinary people who just want to go about their business."

This part of the councillor's reasoning is perfectly understandable. It would seem that he wishes to minimise disruption and danger to local residents, a laudable aim.

It's then that he goes a bit off the rails.

"These people do not have a legitimate cause – they merely wish to vilify, insult, intimidate and provoke one section of our community. That isn't protest or legitimate democratic debate and it certainly is not welcome in Manchester."

How is Councillor Battle qualified to look into the minds of those who wish to protest and decide if their motivation for it is legitimate or not? He may feel that they are merely out to cause trouble, but that is a matter which can be addressed, prior to the event, by the police liaising with the organisers and also with those who fear that they may be vilified or provoked.

Mr Battle goes on to say that the council is 'standing together with faith groups and city centre traders', yet have they discussed their concerns with the protest organisers? If so, there is no indication of it. If not, then they are coming at this from a one-sided perspective.

He states that:

"Wherever the so-called English Defence League have gone, there has been violence and disruption to ordinary people who just want to go about their business."

That is undoubtedly true, but the police have three decades of experience in handling groups of football-style hooligans, which the troublesome element of the EDL appear to be. The rozzers would be very confident in their ability to contain such a threat.

The problem, as far as one can see, at previous EDL events, has been that they have succeeded in provoking a reaction from an opposing faction who are equally enthusiastic at the prospect of a 'right good ruck, innit'. So wouldn't Manchester Council be better served 'standing together with faith groups' in advising those who might react adversely to the EDL protest to just not bloody well do it.

That way, the right to assembly would be protected and the result would just be a bit of shouting and football chant rhetoric.

Once we start banning such rallies on the basis of a perceived illegitimacy of those involved, it opens the door to protests being prohibited simply because we don't agree with the point of the protest itself.

Which is probably the underlying case here, if truth be known.


Ian B said...

You remember those muslim demonstrators with the "freedom go to hell" banner? I don't know why they bothered with that one. It went to hell a long time ago.

Roger Thornhill said...

Surely, using the logic, the UAF should be banned. But then again, the Fabians will hardly ban their own Stormtroopers, now, will they?

Chris said...

Think how many would have died at the Peterloo massacre if GMP had been around.

BTS said...

So they have the march, everyone else learns to stay the fuck away (that would be you UAF and any faith groups btw) and it can all go off peacefully. If it isn't peaceful then the police can nick any violent idiots and maybe we get a few wankers off of the street. Where is the bloody problem? Why does everyone feel the need to jump in for a ruck and in so doing diminish ever further our liberties?

Quiet_Man said...

Wonkosworld points out that Councillor Jim Battle (Deputy Leader Manchester City Council) is actually a UAF organiser, so the ban now looks understandable, just another brownshirt move against our freedom of assembly.

John Bull said...

Im no fan of these guys,or the UFA but on the surface both groups have concerns worth looking at,the perceived threat of Muslim extremists and out of control immigration and the fear of the rise of the far right,however both groups have used violence to express themselves which for me makes them as pointless as each other.
Its still a freeish country and if these people want to march they should be allowed to,and if they break the law,arrest their ass, the cops would probably enjoy a good kick off,me i find it all very very dull.

Anonymous said...

Gawd, John Bull, wish I found the erosion of liberties "rather dull": I'd love not to live in the state of simmering rage that I have done for the past three years when I woke up to the things that were happening. I'd really like my free country back and am not too happy with a "freeish" one which is well down the road towards not-at-all-free.


Ian B said...

Is it also worth mentioning that "Unite Against Fascism" are, anyway, a Socialist Workers Party front?

For some reason we never seem to object to "links" to "far left" organisations. Oh wait, that would be McCarthyism, wouldn't it?

John Bull said...

Annoy-mouse,if you had read my comment properly you would have noticed my point was,i find two groups fighting each other on the streets, thus overshadowing their message and making themselves pointless very very dull,but i was obviously still supporting their right to march in our ¨freeish¨country,and nowhere in my comment have i said ¨freeish¨is acceptable,the contrary i think,hope you understand a little better now.

John Bull said...

Annoy-mouse, you also miss quoted me,nowhere have i said¨rather dull¨.
A bit less ¨simmering rage¨ and more reading the comments properly,what do you think.

Anonymous said...

John Bull - I stand corrected although, in the context, I didn't think that it was such a misquote that it warranted those rather annoying consecutive postings by the same person which correct an error that doesn't alter the substance of the point made.

But if you want to nitpick, might I point out that "Im" should have an apostrophe as in 'I'm', as should
"Its" as in 'It's' and "i" in the English language is written as 'I'. Perhaps when you master the basics...or perhaps you posted as hurriedly as I read?

I bit less pomposity and a bit more ye, who are blameless on blogs, what do you think?


John Bull said...

Jay,i believe its being able to understand the content of a comment that counts not the placement of an apostrophe. first you need to read the comment properly, then you can add your slant to it from an informed perspective not an assumed one.
No one likes to be misquoted even on comments ,as the quote is personal and adds to the theme of the writer.
If your going to quote me ,quote me right.
Thats what i think

Dick Puddlecote said...

Are we underneath the palace on the way to kidnapping Pilate's wife here? ;-)

Good spot, Quiet Man, it does explain a lot.

Anonymous said...

John Bull - I sincerely apologise if I misread your post - it IS annoying when it happens. Might you be guilty of failing to read (in the broadest sense of the word) my post, too? You see, I think that, although two factions brawling seems hardly advances either cause, I would certainly never describe it as dull (with the implication that it can be safely disregarded). Such behaviour affords the excuse (in the society that we've now become) to try to curtail freedom and, if the action taken by the authorities is not even-handed then it sends out a very clear message to both sides which might well encourage those whom it favours, so the brawling becomes an effective tool.

Anyhoo, righteous indignation becomes tiresome when clung to so, shall be both climb down from our high horses before we bore the pants off everyone?


John Bull said...

Jay,i accept your gracious apology sir,
and i totally agree, that opposite sides slugging it out in the streets does not advance their causes,not in my and i hope many others eyes, but will attract those who see violence and intimidation as their favoured method of expression so making the situation worse, and i see your point that if the powers that be are not honest in their policing and reporting it does suppress honest debate,violence being the convenient distraction.
As for ¨dull¨i mean that in the resigned sense of disappointment and seen it all before,i do appreciate how dangerous the situation can become,especially if you have to live around it.or for our country as a whole if the thugs of either side get the drop on us.

I have dismounted my horse,i hold out my hand in friendship ,and wish you a goodnight sir.

ps if you were bored post a comment yourself ha!.

Chris F J Cyrnik said...

I’m just organising my own little rally with four nubile young ladies with large jugs. It’s my duty to make sure all ladies are nicely oiled up and ready to go, I’ve been waiting weeks for this delightful chore…did I just say chore…whom I kidding eh?

But before we all romp out in the street shouting silly and pointless things…I’m getting all the ladies into my ‘knobs and knockers’ bubble-tub. It’s here I discuss tactics…but let me tell you…any dolly with less than pert baubles is sent packing. Quite literally – any girl banished from my bubble-tub, has to pack all the leaflets.

At the moment I’m standing tall and proud in my tub…and this is bringing a smile to all the ladies here.

Bottoms up!

BTS said...

So everyone over to Chris' then?

Anon said...

Do we really need stupid comments from people like Chris on this site when we're trying to discuss serious issues, I think not.

There are other sites where daft comments like these can be left.

Chris F J Cyrnik said...

Anon...whoever the hell you's called having fun in this lousy shit faced world we now live in.

We already have our quota of humourless more is one too many.

But here is a tip for you to get past it.

Have some monsterous thick-necked lager lout shove yer head up botty...that way you can see what you had for breakfast, and if any humour adjustment is needed to your diet...believe me - this will help!

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon: Please don't start criticising Chris. His glorious tangential outbursts sometimes deflect attention from the shit that I write. ;-)

Chris F J Cyrnik said...

Thanks Dick...much appreciated - as is your writing!

BTS said...

If you can't let rip on your mate's Dick where can you..?

w/v: glityls - sparkly women's bits..?

Anonymous said...

John Bull - Hand of Friendship being virtually grasped and shaken!

BTW it should be ma'am! (goes off to have rant in manner of Hattie Harperson about gender assumption)Wink


Ian B said...

So everyone over to Chris' then?

Just to join in the grammar bunfight, that should be "Chris's". You only leave off the trailing "s" when it's a possessive of a plural. Such would only be the case if the place you were going were to belonged to more than one Chri.

John Bull said...

Jay-my humble apologies,i stand corrected and a lesson has been learned,good day to you ma`am.

Or perhaps a kiss on both cheeks?

BTS said...

Ta Ian. I thought it looked a bit hinky, but after a few drinks everything was looking slightly strange. Especially washing machines. Lots of washing machines..

Anonymous said...

"...perhaps a kiss on both cheeks"

Best offer I've had for a while...


Weekend Yachtsman said...

"the right to assembly would be protected"

As if that's any sort of priority with these people.

Any limitation on the right to assembly would be seen by them as a feature, not a bug.