“Despite his reputation as a ‘Tory libertarian’, Boris Johnson’s government is now attacking democratic freedoms on a scale that cannot be justified by the Covid emergency”, Alex Gordon told a meeting of the Communist Party’s political committee on Wednesday evening (March 24).
He pointed to the Police & Crime and ‘Spycops’ Bills currently going through the Westminster parliament as examples of the growing centralisation and empowerment of the state and its police and intelligence services. ‘They are part of a longer-term trend since 1979, from anti-trade union laws and the privatisation of public spaces patrolled by private security companies to the criminalisation of squatting and the atrocious ‘Windrush’ deportations of British citizens”, he argued.
He said the present-day Tier 4 lockdown had abolished even the limited right to protest allowed by the lower tiers and so clearly contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights. “The danger now is that some of the drastic but temporary Covid restrictions of our hard-won civil liberties might be made permanent – if we don’t resist”, he warned.
Mr Gordon pointed to the “over the top” police action against women peacefully protesting on Clapham Common against male violence and the £10,000 fine imposed on trade union activist Karen Reissmann for organising a protest as wake-up calls. ‘Last Sunday’s pro-democracy protest in Bristol had been peaceful for hours before the eruption of violence played into the hands of Tory and other supporters of repressive ruling-class legislation’, he noted.
The CP political committee urged people to make the maximum use of their surviving freedoms to fight against injustice and pledged the Communist Party’s support for the struggle to defend the right to protest.