Has the Kill the Bill campaign come roaring back to life? The rapid proliferation of demos around the country yesterday against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill suggests that might just be the case. There were over twenty demonstrations around the country, some with just a few dozen but with thousands coming onto the streets in London and Manchester.
Towards the end of last year the campaign looked to have petered out, bogged down in an overly complicated organising structure, with seemingly only one tactic, (the A to B march with speakers ) up it’s sleeve. Repetition led to boredom, decreasing numbers and the eventual near cessation of activity. Only a few hundred turned up to the third reading in the House of Lords .
However the recent wave of revulsion at the “one law for us, one law for you” Tory government and the recognition that Starmer’s Labour are most certainly not coming to the rescue has drawn people back to the streets. There is also an urgency as the act is due to pass through its final stages and be ready for Royal Assent by as early as April.
Cynically tacked onto the bill, already draconian in its criminalisation of trespass and protest and a host of other turns of the screw, are a number of amendments, such as making locking on specifically a new imprisonable offence. Most sinister of all is the creation of Serious Disruption Prevention Orders, which allow the courts to inflict conditions, such as curfews or edicts on the use of the internet on the lives of those the state deems an inconvenience or a threat.
Also welcome is the new emphasis on the dual threat of the Nationalities and Borders Bill, with its clauses that attack migrants, criminalise rescue at sea, and give the Home Secretary power to strip citizenship from millions.
There is some hope that this movement might become the vehicle to challenge the transformation of the UK into an autocracy. It will need to move beyond marches and petitions and crucially grow much larger but the situation is more hopeful than it was before Christmas.
For more thoughts on what is the possible next, have a look here.
Image: Yesterday’s protest in Bristol, by Bristol Defendant Solidarity.