The Socialist

The Socialist 31 March 2021

Unite and fight - For the right to protest

The Socialist issue 1127

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Job losses, low pay, cuts to services, police violence

Unite and fight

For the right to protest

Photo: Bristol Socialist Party

Photo: Bristol Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Baldwin, Socialist Party and TUSC Bristol mayoral candidate

The Tories' Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill has sparked determined 'Kill the Bill' demonstrations across the country. This draconian law was put forward explicitly to tackle peaceful protests and gives enormous power to the police to ban them. Protesters could face ten-year sentences just for 'annoying' people!

Even the ex-police chief of Durham has warned that the bill would mean moving towards "paramilitary policing" and that government ministers are "flexing their muscles via their police forces" similar to repressive regimes elsewhere in the world.

The Covid-sparked capitalist crisis means workers face a wave of job losses and attacks on pay and conditions, as well as a fresh round of austerity. This government of the bosses is beefing up police powers in preparation for the resulting struggles.

One of the biggest recent protests was in Bristol, where thousands turned out to peacefully oppose the bill. Once most protesters had left it was violently attacked by police. Vans were driven into the crowd and police deployed horses, dogs, pepper spray and batons against protesters. This provoked a response from sections of the crowd.

Mainstream press coverage has been very one-sided, trying to paint protesters as thugs and ignoring the police provocation. Claims that police suffered broken bones were retracted but only after they'd made the headlines. On Tuesday 23 and Friday 26 March police also violently cleared peaceful protesters from the streets.

Tory politicians have hypocritically condemned protesters while still pushing to curtail peaceful protest. Bristol's Labour mayor Marvin Rees has joined the one-sided condemnation of demonstrators. Incredibly, he claimed the police are "managing protests well and with sensitivity"!

In capitalist society the police form part of a state apparatus that is used to defend the unequal profit system and the rule of the rich and powerful. They have a long record of attacking and disrupting protest movements, including using agents provocateurs to incite violence. As well as campaigning to defend the right to peaceful protest and for the policing bill to be scrapped, we call for democratic working-class and community control of policing and public safety.

The new bill won't stop protests, such is the anger, especially among young people, at how this unequal and repressive capitalist system is destroying people's lives. Workers fighting against job losses and 'fire and rehire', and health workers campaigning for a decent pay rise have already been fined and attacked using Covid restrictions. The police bill will be further used to target workers defending their rights and livelihoods.

The trade unions, which organise millions of workers, need to step up and take an active role in the movement to defend the right to protest. They have the organised power to co-ordinate the different struggles that are erupting and unite them in a mass movement to scrap the bill, defend jobs, end low pay, fight austerity and secure democratic control of the police.

Young people and workers also need a political alternative to this capitalist system, defended by all the establishment politicians, that has nothing to offer us but inequality, exploitation and repression.

That is why the Socialist Party will be standing candidates in the May elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. This is just one part of our struggle to build a new mass party that fights for the interests of workers and young people and for a socialist alternative to this rotten capitalist system. Join us in that fight.

See also: Defending the right to protest

In this issue


Mobilise Liverpool workers to defy Tory commissioners and austerity

London - We need socialists into City Hall

Warning: Labour Party cutters - careful who you phone!


Domestic Abuse Bill: So much still to fight for

We will not be the lost generation

Shrewsbury pickets exonerated after almost 50 years

'Chingford skinhead' spills the beans over government surveillance of union activists

Freeports spell deregulation, low pay and a new race to the bottom

No start for life

Right to protest

Unite and fight - For the right to protest

Defending the right to protest

Socialist analysis

Preparing for the revolts to come


Cumberland hospital workers fight for stolen pay

NHS pay: 15% now!

Workplace news

Trade union fighters rally to support victimised workers

BT Openreach engineers step up the pressure with five-day strike action

Asda equal pay ruling victory - now fight for equal pay for all

SPS Technologies workers strike against potential pay loss of 3,000 a year

Deskilling protests by sparks electricians continue

Beal academy strikers demand equal sick pay

Goodlord strike starts to bite

Nationalise Liberty Steel to save jobs

British Gas workers strike ahead of 'fire and rehire' deadline

Reports & campaigns

Online rally - 150 years since the Paris Commune

Selling the Socialist

Donate now to fuel our election campaigns

Readers' opinion

Football abuse scandal: Reclaim the game for justice and democracy

Socialist Liverpool City Council inspired me

Women, violence and defiance

The Socialist Inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 31 March 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

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31 March 2021