The Pirates of Parliament

There is a law in this wonderful country that was passed earlier this year that makes demonstrating outside the houses of parliament an arrestable offence. This can be found under section132 of the Serious Organised and Police Act and was brought in specifically against one man, Brain Haw, who has been peacefully protesting against the Iraq invasion outside parliament for the past 4 years. Unfortunately, the government screwed up a bit, and when the act became law, they still couldn't remove him because he'd started his protest beforehand. So Brain is still there protesting legally outside the houses of Parliament – the place which is, ironically, the embodiment of democracy to many.

Today, Maya Evans was found guilty of breaching this odd little law because of her own anti-war protest. This was held at a well known London monument, called the Cenotaph, and involved reciting the names of the British soldiers killed in Iraq, accompanied by the sound of a small bell being struck between each name. You may have noticed that the Cenotaph is indeed a war memorial itself (built in 1919, and is used at a certain time of the year to remember British soldiers who died in a different war), but because she now needs permission to protest within 1/2 mile of Parliament, she was arrested, banged up in a cell for 5 hours and now has to pay court fines. Oh, and she's also now the proud owner of her very own criminal record. I'm not totally convinced that this constitutes Serious Organised crime, but I'm no lawyer so I could be wrong. I also didn't consider Walter Wolfgang too much of a terrorist threat either, but I'm no policeman so what do I know.

And all because Tony Blair can't handle criticism.

In 1933, Chancellor Hitler invoked Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution that permitted the suspension of civil liberties which included the expression of opinion. He didn't particularly like criticism either.

And now we have the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer stating that it is ridiculously overdone to claim that free speech is being undermined. I wonder what is his definition of free speech? The fact that this law was made in the first place because of a single person's protest is jaw-dropping. The fact the it has now been used against someone else is stomach-churning. The half mile democracy-free zone is sure to go the same way as Ken Livingston's congestion charge….get bigger…and bigger….and….bigger…

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