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MP warns Westminster policing bill will silence valid protest and curb democracy

11 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts in the House of Commons.

A Welsh MP has warned that Westminster’s policing bill risks silencing valid voices and curbing the democratic right of the people to tell truth to power.

Reflecting on the history of protest in Wales, Liz Saville-Roberts points at the many battles ordinary Welsh people have fought over the centuries and how important they have been to progress.

Whether fighting to save communities like Tryweryn or Epynt, protecting the language, securing a Welsh language media or fighting for independence, ordinary people in Wales have never been afraid to speak up, the MP for Dwyfor Meirionydd said.

In an article for the Noisy & Annoying Campaign, which defends the right to protest, she said: “Protest has always mattered in Wales as a means of protecting our communities, our language, and our rights.

“The Tory Policing Bill takes direct aim at the heart of the right to protest on the streets. We’d be well-advised, therefore, to learn the lessons of history, and to hold fast to how they taught us to resist the creeping constraints on our hard-won liberties,” the Plaid Cymru MP said.

“Over the years, protest has often been the only route available for those people who – with neither the advantages of economic or political resources – sought to demand their rights when the powerful threatened to oppress them.”

‘Injustice’

Liz Saville-Roberts suggests that disregarding the views of peaceful protesters leads to frustration and escalation of action, where ordinary people do extraordinary things which risk their liberty for the cause.

She adds: “The common people of Wales have refused time and again to accept injustice, even though their leaders were threatened with prison, capital punishment, and transportation to Australia.”

It is argued the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would, by giving police additional powers, make it easier for someone to be criminalised through protest.

Laws surrounding static rallies and marches would be brought into line and old common law of public nuisance would be replaced by statute, under which “noise” and “annoyance” will become offences.

New stop and search rules would be introduced, circumstances under which police can impose restrictions on a protest will be widened and the threshold for an act being construed as a breach will be both lower and more ambiguous.

Pointing to the success of YesCymru rallies prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, she said: “Anyone who enjoyed the sheer thrill and excitement of the noisy, joyous marches held in Cardiff, Caernarfon, and Merthyr Tudful in 2019, must be asked:

“What will be the impact of the Policing Bill on both our burgeoning independence movement and the proud Welsh tradition of taking to the streets and raising our voices to call out injustice and oppression?”

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Tim
Tim
15 days ago

Using words like “noise” and “annoyance” is BAD law because they are subjective matters of opinion and not objective matters of fact

Quornby
Quornby
15 days ago

The lady is totally correct. If Johnson had his way you’d have to produce a Tory membership card before being allowed to vote.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
15 days ago

This what happens when you have another country run your criminal justice system. We have this Draconian policing bill forced on Wales by an English centrist government in London , a party that’s never had legitimacy in Wales other than gaining power over us largely thanks to the English block vote. Wales is the only nation in Britain forced to use an English criminal justice system overseen by police & crime commissioners answerable only to Whitehall not our Senedd Cymru & Welsh Government. And when there are calls for the devolution of our policing & justice systems, are told we… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Y Cymro
Grayham Jones
15 days ago

Plaid Cymru got to stop playing British politics and start fighting for welsh politics it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 A Free Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
15 days ago

The UK government is becoming more like China’s communist party every day in its draconian ways. People should have the right to march and not be gagged. The race is on to gain independence before our voice is muffled and our views criminalised. This Tory government will go to any lengths to keep control. Before lockdowns hit us again and this policing law starts to impede us, we must get out there in as many communities as possible and march, march march !

Last edited 15 days ago by Steve Duggan
Katy Fowler
Katy Fowler
15 days ago

Well said, Liz Saville Roberts. I’ve been grateful to have her as my MP. I’ll be moving house soon to a constituency with her polar opposite 😑

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