BAD SHIT IS HAPPENING IN THE UK
As you may have heard, the UK’s Conservative government is pushing through a new bill that essentially makes any kind of protest illegal. Anyone participating in a protest that is considered to be “noisy” or a “serious annoyance”, including one-person protests, can fall foul of the proposed new law, and it includes a sentence of ten years in prison for damaging a statue or memorial. Essentially, police will have the power to break up any protest that isn’t you whispering quietly in a corner, which is to say, any protest that would be in any way impactful or effective.
They’ve pushed this bill through in the wake of a peaceful vigil for a woman murdered by a police officer that was violently broken up by police earlier in the week.
Needless to say, there are concerns. Not that they were enough to stop it passing, mind you, given that the Tories can push through any piece of shit they want with their majority; the first-past-the-post system of voting we have here in the UK favours them heavily, and it’s no coincidence that they’re also changing the voting system for the London mayor, for Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, and elected mayors in nine English authorities to that very same system. It’s not great!
(There’s other bullshit in this bill, including things that criminalise an already-disadvantaged group in the Traveller/Roma community. They can now be fined and have their vehicles taken if they don’t possess a so-called “Traveller’s License”. It’s just all around a really shitty bill.)
The reason I’m talking to you about this, though, the very specific reason I wanted to make this post, is that the discussion around this bill is a fucking minefield for anyone who seriously subscribes to Tumblr’s classic black-and-white moral/political compass.
Everyone pretty much agrees that the bill is terrible and that it’s a draconian, authoritarian nightmare. However, there are all kinds of people arguing against it for their own reasons, which means that it’s not one of those cases wherein you can just look at the people who are arguing for or against it, see which of them best represent you and your ideals, and decide whether it is Good or Bad.
One one side of the fence, we’ve got people who are basically decent and who see this for the blatant attack on free speech that it is, a bill pretty transparently being pushed through by a government that is sensing just how hated and mistrusted it is and wants to squash any potential uprisings by the unwashed masses before they happen. So it’s Bad, right? It’s a Bad bill and you are Good if you argue against it.
But then, on the other side of the fence, we’ve got all of those people who were getting mad because they couldn’t go to the pub or get a haircut, who were angrily complaining about every lockdown and claiming that they were being oppressed, that their rights were being taken away because they were being told to stay at home. They also hate this bill, because they think this is about them. There’s swathes of these types on Twitter and elsewhere, saying things like “OH, IT’S DIFFERENT NOW THAT YOUR LOT CAN’T PROTEST, IS IT?? IT WAS FINE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO SILENCE US UNTIL IT STARTED AFFECTING THE LEFT!!!” So they hate it too, because they think it’s just an extension of the injustice they’ve (allegedly) faced already over the course of the last 12 months or so.
So where does that leave you? If people like that are arguing against this bill, and they’re Bad, surely that means that the bill is Good and you should be arguing for it and against the Bad people. Right?
No. It’s a bad bill. It’s a fucking terrible bill and the most blatantly fascist thing the Tories have tried to do in the last ten years. As a long-term disabled person, I can tell you that they’ve been fascist as hell this whole time, but this is some mask off shit, as the kids say these days. Bad times are coming if this goes through and becomes law. It’s going to be difficult to navigate the protest against it, given that that protest is going to be riddled with anti-mask, anti-lockdown fuckwits who will no doubt make it very hard for the rest of us to be taken seriously, but we do have to protest.
God. Imagine thinking that our bourgeois capitalist Tory government actually wanted to put us in lockdown.
They’ve made a lot of claims about what this bill is actually supposed to achieve, from COVID safety to improving safety for women and girls, but considering that the bill talks about protests that are “noisy” or a “serious annoyance” and has fuck all to do with social distancing or masks or any other COVID prevention measures, and considering that you’ll go to jail for longer for hurting a statue than you would for raping a woman, I think it’s safe to say that they’re lying.
Protest. Protest against this fucking bill, and protest against Tory fascism.