Lib Dem passion for civil liberties shines through in right to protest debate

Conference overwhelmingly backed the right to protest today in a passionate debate which showed the party at its best. It’s so important given that the Official Opposition’s first instinct was to abstain on this draconian legislation and had to be shamed into opposing it.

We called on the Government to drop the proposals set out in the Police, Sentencing and Courts Bill and reaffirmed our support for the Human Rights Act.

You can read the motion here.

I’ve done a Twitter thread summarising the main points that were made in the debate:

After the debate, Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

The Conservative Government’s attempts to crack down on peaceful protests are dangers and draconian.

The right to protest is a fundamental human right. From the slave trade to women’s suffrage, workers’ rights to the Iraq war, protesting has always been a crucial part of our democratic society.

“Liberal Democrats fiercely oppose the Government’s anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition to its policies by restricting the right to protest, and we urge the Home Secretary to drop these proposals.”

I so hope that we will see the whole debate as it covered such a good range of perspectives and showed us at our liberal best.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Little Jackie Paper 21st Mar '21 - 3:45pm

    It’s only three weeks to flatten the curve.

  • [email protected] talked about women protesting for the right to vote in 1910 being met with brutality.”

    True, but is Smudge aware which party was in Government in 1910 – or that on 19 February 1913, a bomb exploded at a house being built for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, (and supporter of women’s suffrage), David Lloyd George, at Walton-on-the-Hill, causing damage estimated at £500 (modern equivalent £55,000 ) ?

  • The “peaceful” protests in Bristol tonight are not really helping your case!

  • John Marriott 22nd Mar '21 - 12:40pm

    Why, oh why don’t people who organise ‘peaceful’ protests realise that most will probably draw in the kind of antisocial criminal behaviour from a small section of anarchists and yobs, whom we saw ‘demonstrating’ in Bristol yesterday evening? The young Labour MP on today’s ‘Politics Live’ was asked several times to condemn the violence last night and she refused each time to do it! Is that really what the younger generation thinks today? Her justification was that she was not “going to condemn anybody” until “a full investigation had taken place”. Sounds a bit like Corbyn not being prepared to condemn Russia for what happened in Salisbury.

  • Mark Seaman 22nd Mar '21 - 5:13pm

    There is a more fundamental issue at stake regarding ‘protests’. What is their point?
    Protests were historically made where people did not have the vote, and then later when an issue needed to be pushed that would affect the way the public voted.
    With so many of the recent/current ‘protests’, only a tiny minority of those involved are going to vote anyway, so the purpose of it is to?

  • Mark Seaman 22nd Mar '21 - 5:22pm

    There is a more fundamental issue at stake regarding ‘protests’. What is their point?
    Protests were historically made where people did not have the vote, and then later when there was an issue that needed to be pushed so that it would affect the way the public voted.
    With so many of the recent/current ‘protests’, only a very tiny minority of those involved are going to vote anyway, so the purpose of it is to do what? except cause considerable damage to local economies and result in attacks against property.
    So many of the protestors have pretty extreme ‘left-wing’ views (SWP being a prime example), and they are not looking to swing public opinion, but to instead wreck the country in the hope that their own malignant theories have some blighted soil to take root in 🙁

  • Mark Seaman 22nd Mar '21 - 5:23pm

    Apologies for the bizarre semi double post!

  • Nonconformistradical 22nd Mar '21 - 10:38pm

    @Mark Seaman
    “Protests were historically made where people did not have the vote”
    Given that for many people the FPTP system their vote might be meaningless in their having little or no chance of electing anyone standing against a front runner in a safe seat it’s hardly surprising that protests take place.

    We have a government which appears to be avoiding proper scrutiny of its actions – another reason for people to protest. looks like another reason for protesting.

    The actions of those who turned what appears to have started as a peaceful protest into a riot were a disgrace.

    Could it be that the title given to this particular protest just might have been an unfortunate red rag? ‘The bill’ is after all a slang term for the police.

  • Richard Cripps 23rd Mar '21 - 9:27am

    Interesting discussion about the point of protests. My past experience in protesting in the 60s and 70s was with the anti-apartheid movement, on behalf of people who had no vote. amongst other reasons. As has been said the FPTP system effectively disenfranchises large swathes of the electorate. We also have three UK party leader who are male, white and middle-aged, so it may be that there are other swathes of the electorate who do not relate to them. (Apologies if this sounds rude, it’s not meant to be, just stating a fact). So, it’s not at all surprising that the protest movement is alive and well. There have always been elements from the far right and the far left who have seized the opportunity to disrupt legitimate and peaceful protest but in my limited (and time distant) experience, co-operation (or at least co-existence) between police and stewards worked well in minimising the “hijackers”. Does this not happen now?

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