Thursday, 10 April 2008

Britain's Democratic Deficit

And while I'm on the subject of democracy and human rights I would like to draw attention to our own government's rather sinister double-speak on the issue.

According to Gordon Brown and others, the anti-Olympic Torch protests were a symbol of Britain's vibrant democratic values.

Or something.

The fact of the matter is that the police are using new anti-terrorism legislation to arrest people for demonstrating democratically.

That's right, following the Labour Party's example (when an elderly delegate was expelled from its annual conference for heckling Jack Straw over the Iraq war, under the 'Prevention of Terorrorism' Act) the guardians of law and order are using their powers to suppress dissent.

Much, it must be said, like the Chinese everyone was protesting about.

According to journalist Paul Lewis: "from the outset, police identified anti-Chinese protesters and subjected them to different rules to red-flag waving spectators.

Before the relay had even properly begun, my colleague witnessed police removing T-shirts and flags from demonstrators. At Ladbroke Grove, spectators carrying Tibetan flags were relegated to a pavement across the road, kept apart from a carnival-style reception.

Several protesters were dragged away.

Demonstrators who did not obey police requests to stand in designated areas were repeatedly threatened with anti-terrorist legislationl".

A victory for democracy if ever I saw one...

As Dan Kieran points out in his magnificent call to arms I Fought the Law, Britain is swiftly becoming an authoritarian state. As such, it is definitely a suitable successor to Beijing for the next Olympic Games. And from there, onwards to Sochi, in Russia, bastion of democracy and Human Rights.

And this is what they call progress.

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