Category Archives: Protest

Cost of living: is the Don’t Pay campaign viable or is there a better way?

Take a look at this discussion of the Don’t Pay campaign, that calls for a million people to cancel their Direct Debits to energy firms:

Is it viable? Well…

There are pitfalls.

As I understand it, the suggestion is that you cancel your Direct Debits and make a complaint about the amount to your energy supplier, who cannot then switch off your supply for non-payment while the complaint is ongoing. It is important that you make your complaint direct to the supplier and not to any debt collection agency they may send to you.

According to the narrative, you may be offered a small reduction – but you should not accept it. Instead, you should wait for a letter of “deadlock” – meaning your supplier is saying they can’t come to terms with you.

Then you complain to the Ombudsman. What is not said here – but is apparent from the Ombudsman’s documentation – is that the complaint must be ongoing for at least eight weeks – or your supplier must have signposted you to the Ombudsman – before you can do this. And you must give the company an opportunity to resolve the issue.

Every complaint the Ombudsman receives is said to trigger a charge of £375 (some say £500) to the energy supplier. Strangely, the Ombudsman’s website does not mention the amount it charges.

The idea is that if enough people get to this point in the process, the energy firms will be paying £375 million on complaints alone and may fall into financial difficulties themselves.

However: these are firms that have built up huge profits over the last two years, and it is entirely possible that they could simply wait out any protests; I understand the proportion of customers needed to complain would have to be more than 15 per cent before any real threat to the firms’ viability is registered. That might be too much to ask.

Alternatively, instead of paying Direct Debits, you could instead arrange with your energy supplier simply to pay for what you use each month – meaning your energy firm doesn’t take more than you can pay because you can regulate it. But the tariff may be higher so you could still be out-of-pocket by doing this.

I imagine it would still be possible to make a complaint about the amount being charged via Direct Debit being too high, so you could still go through the Ombudsman process.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media are scaremongering with warnings that energy suppliers may simply get a court order allowing them into people’s homes in order to fit pre-payment meters or cut off the energy supply (although this last option is extremely rare).

Suppliers cannot move anybody to pre-payment if it is not practical – for example, if an illness or disability means a customer would be at risk if their gas or electricity was cut off. This Writer has seen information from a person on Personal Independence Payment whose supplier extended their present tariff until next March.

Suppliers also need to follow clear guidance and make sure they have given adequate notice, time to pay any debts and offered alternatives to being moved on to a pre-payment meter.

So what’s the best thing to do?

From what This Writer has seen so far, the best advice is to get in touch with your energy supplier and simply tell them that you are concerned that you will not be able to pay a Direct Debit if it increases hugely in October or January.

Explain your circumstances because, like the PIP claimant mentioned above, you may be able to negotiate an extension of your current tariff.

Discuss the benefits and pitfalls of every alternative that is available to you. Warn them that you are concerned you may have to take action against them if you cannot come to affordable terms – as a last resort.

And make clear exactly how much (or, realistically, how little) your financial situation is likely to change between now and next January; any payment plan needs to be practical.

Then see what they say before committing to any action that could harm your credit rating.

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Stop the War Coalition demands emergency protest for Gaza | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

Bombing campaign: these images of explosions caused by Israeli attacks on Gaza were taken in 2020. Israel has been attacking Palestine since the former country was created in 1948.

Here’s another useful post from Beastrabban:

I got this email from Stop the War Coalition this afternoon:

Protest for Palestine – This Wednesday

Last week Israel once again launched a bombing campaign of the besieged Gaza strip. Over 3 days it killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children. More than 300 Palestinians have been wounded and hundreds more displaced.

The bombs, for now, have stopped falling on Gaza, but the injustice continues. Palestinians need us to stand in solidarity, to protest and to take action.

Join us this Wednesday (10th August) to call for an end to Israel’s oppression and to assert the right of the Palestinian people to live in freedom with justice and equality.

Click Here for Full Details

Volunteer with Stop the War?

We need your help at the demonstration with our stall, stewarding, handing out placards and petitioning.

We’ll be meeting at the Downing Street at 5:30pm. Just reply to this email if you would like to help out. ‘

I can’t go, but I’m posting this up for anybody who can.

Source: Stop the War Coalition Calling for Emergency Protest for Gaza on Wednesday | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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Truss vows to clamp down on free speech after climate activists interrupt her

In Liz we DON’T Truss (it’s a play on her campaign slogan, which is itself a play on words): she’ll end your right to free speech, and to campaign for fair pay and decent working conditions.

Tory leadership contender Liz Truss vowed to clamp down on free speech and protest after being interrupted by critics of her police on climate change.

Her speech at a hustings in the Winter Gardens at Eastbourne was halted when six activists from Green New Deal Rising loudly criticised her:

In response, Truss said: “Can I just say a few words on the militant people who try and disrupt our country, and who try and disrupt our democratic process, and who try and disrupt our essential services?

“I would legislate immediately to make sure that we are standing up to militant trade unions who stop ordinary commuters getting into work, and I would legislate to protect our essential services.

“And I will make sure that militant activists such as Extinction Rebellion are not able to disrupt ordinary people who work hard and do the right thing and go into work.”

If you think that sounds good, think again.

Truss was saying she would remove your right to free speech and rescind your right to demand acceptable pay and benefits at work.

You may be happy that other people will be stopped from disrupting your day, but will you be as happy when you have a serious issue of your own and get arrested for trying to raise it?

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Is Rishi Sunak saying if he becomes PM, he will jail you for criticising him?

Sunak: if he replaces the man directly behind him on the left, he’ll sink the UK into a mire of extremist fascism – while pretending he’s fighting extremism.

He says he won’t target people who criticise his extremist government with this new plan.

But who would be stupid enough to believe him?

I refer, of course, to Rishi Sunak, who has said those who speak extreme hatred toward the UK will be treated as extremists and referred to the government’s deradicalisation programme Prevent, if he becomes prime minister:

People who display hatred through speech or writing would be referred to Prevent programme, Mr Sunak pledged.

The former Chancellor’s team clarified that the changes would not include criticism of the government or any government policy, and was not legally binding.

Extremism is defined in the 2011 Prevent strategy as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”, as well as calls for the death of armed forces personnel.

Sunak’s team vowed to broaden that out to include “vilification of the UK” to ensure “those with an extreme hatred of our country that leads them to pose a risk to national security can be identified and diverted away from a destructive path”.

Sharp minds have already taken a look at that idea – and found it wanting:

So in fact, it seems Sunak is planning to breed far-right political extremism in the UK by targeting – as extremists – people who disagree with his plan for far-right Tory government.

He’ll use it to Prevent (capital letter intended) people from demanding independence for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

And he’ll use it to steamroller opposition to the imminent bonfire of your human and working rights.

And that’s probably just for starters.

If you’re not up in arms about this, you’re asleep and need to wake up.

Some are happy to protest passively:

Others are making the point more forcefully – that this is yet another example of the fascism that has underscored Tory politics for more than a decade now:

This Site has been calling the Conservative government out over its fascism for years – and been vilified for it.

Are you all ready to accept, now, that I might have a point?

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Fascism? Anti-Brexit protester silenced (almost) on day anti-protest Act comes into law

How do you like the new British fascism?

On the very day the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act that bans “noisy” protest became law, police swooped on anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray and confiscated his amplifiers.

Mr Bray, of Port Talbot, has been a regular feature in Westminster for many years, protesting against Brexit. He regularly used his equipment to broadcast protest songs about Boris Johnson, notably during Prime Minister’s Questions.

But after the new Act came into force, which extends a “controlled area” around Westminster where activities like sleeping in a tent are restricted, around 15 police officers swooped on Mr Bray and took his equipment:

According to the Mirror,

One clause that commenced this morning is for police to “impose conditions on one-person protests” – a law critics have speculated was drawn up because of Mr Bray.

A senior police officer can impose conditions on a one-person protest if they “reasonably believe” the noise it creates “may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation in the vicinity, or have a significant, relevant impact on people in the vicinity.”

This disruption includes if people in the organisation can’t “reasonably carry out any one of their activities for a prolonged period of time.”

This Writer has seen no evidence that this was the case when Mr Bray’s equipment was taken.

I would certainly encourage you to read the Mirror article, especially the comments by representatives of organisations opposing the draconian measures in the Act. They make its consequences very clear.

This is likely to be the mildest example of the new policy’s enforcement.

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Was Tory crackdown on protest really prompted by this oil-funded think tank?

Targeted: Extinction Rebellion members – here protesting at a Murdoch print works – were briefly defined as an extremist group. Although they have now been removed from the list, Home Secretary Priti Patel has continued to refer to climate protesters as “criminals”.

A Tory crackdown on legal political protest was devised by a right-wing think tank that is funded by the US fossil fuel corporation ExxonMobil, it has been alleged.

And it is easy to see the reason: it removes the right of ordinary citizens to protest against the climate-wrecking policies followed by the oil industry.

According to Open Democracy,

Policy Exchange explicitly said the government should pass legislation to target Extinction Rebellion (XR) in a 2019 report that got the attention of Tory MPs and peers.

The report called for protest laws to be “urgently reformed in order to strengthen the ability of police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass law-breaking tactics”.

Sections of Priti Patel’s controversial policing bill, which became the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, appear directly inspired by the Policy Exchange report.

The Policy Exchange report that appears to have contained the seeds of the policing bill was later cited in the House of Commons by Tory MP Steve Baker, who urged ministers to read it, and in the Lords by Tory peer Matt Ridley. Baker is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic group that has received money from groups with oil interests in the US. Ridley is a member of the group’s academic advisory council.

Patel said openly that the legislation was intended to stop tactics used by Extinction Rebellion. The home secretary first pledged to introduce the bill just over a year after the Policy Exchange report was published.

Policy Exchange does not disclose its donors, but openDemocracy has uncovered that ExxonMobil Corporation donated $30,000 to its American fundraising arm in 2017.

There is much more information on the Open Democracy site (link below).

Circumstantial evidence?

Maybe – but then it isn’t likely that the Conservative Party, Policy Exchange and ExxonMobil are ever going to admit conspiring to silence legitimate political protest.

Source: Policy Exchange: Was oil-funded think tank behind anti-XR policing bill? | openDemocracy

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Here’s why our media are hypocrites for praising Russian ‘propaganda’ protest

Take a gander at this:

It’s a reference to a placard protest by Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Russian state-controlled TV Channel 1.

Her placard read: “No war, stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here.”

She was arrested, and has been fined 30,000 roubles for breaking protest laws in that country. A lucky escape – the maximum punishment is 15 years in prison.

It was a brave protest in the face of state censorship – but it has brought on a wave of hypocrisy from the west.

News outlets here in the UK have universally praised Ms Ovsyannikova – but have shown hardly a scrap of support for someone in prison in this country for doing much the same:

Both are journalists, both whistleblowers.

But here in the UK, one is raised up for praise while the other is cast down and ignored, even though his fate may be worse than hers could have been.

Doesn’t that make the UK’s news outlets just as bad as those in Russia?

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Court challenge win over Sarah Everard vigil raises questions about authorities

Heavy-handed: after the Met Police said it would be illegal to stage a socially-distanced vigil under lockdown conditions, organised by Reclaim These Street, an impromptu event happened instead – leading to heavy criticism of the same force for the brutal way it was seen to put down protesters.

Decisions by the Metropolitan Police that discouraged organisers from holding a vigil for Sarah Everard were against the law, according to High Court judges.

Police statements that Covid-19 regulations at the time meant holding the vigil would be unlawful, and had a “chilling” effect, contributing to the decision to cancel the vigil (an impromptu event was then put down by police with what some have described as brutal force).

None of the force’s decisions was in accordance with the law; evidence showed that the force failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.

That’s a victory for justice. But the High Court had previously refused to declare that any ban on outdoor gatherings under the coronavirus regulations at the time was “subject to the right to protest” – or to declare that an alleged force policy of “prohibiting all protests, irrespective of the specific circumstances” was unlawful.

And Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services concluded the police “acted appropriately” when dealing with the event.

So this raises an obvious question:

Are the High Court and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary fit for purpose if they can’t make a simple ruling in favour of the law?

In a ruling today (March 11), Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate found that the Metropolitan Police breached the rights of Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler to freedom of speech and assembly, and did not assess the potential risk to public health:

Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially-distanced vigil for the 33-year-old, who was murdered by former Met officer Wayne Couzens, near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March last year.

The four women who founded RTS and planned the vigil brought a legal challenge against the force over its handling of the event, which was also intended to be a protest about violence against women.

They withdrew from organising the vigil after being told by the force they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if the event went ahead, and a spontaneous vigil and protest took place instead.

The policing of the spontaneous vigil that took place drew criticism from across the political spectrum after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers.

Summarising the decision, Lord Justice Warby said:

“The relevant decisions of the (Met) were to make statements at meetings, in letters, and in a press statement, to the effect that the Covid-19 regulations in force at the time meant that holding the vigil would be unlawful.

“Those statements interfered with the claimants’ rights because each had a ‘chilling effect’ and made at least some causal contribution to the decision to cancel the vigil.

“None of the (force’s) decisions was in accordance with the law; the evidence showed that the (force) failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.”

If Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate could see this evidence and act upon it, there’s no reason other High Court judges could not do the same – and certainly no reason Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – which should specialise in the law as it applies to the police – couldn’t.

Why did they make the wrong call, then?

And what will be done to correct what are clearly faults in the attitude of the people who made the wrong decisions?

It costs a fortune to take a case to the High Court; these organisations have a duty to the public to get their decisions right first time.

Sadly, experience suggests to This Writer that the usual action will be taken: nothing at all.

Source: Sarah Everard vigil organisers win High Court challenge against Met Police – upday News UK

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Tories set to outlaw the kind of anti-war protests we praised so much in Russia


While you’re busy having your attention directed to Russia and Ukraine by your Tory-supporting right-wing media…

… and I’ll make this quick because it’s really easy to understand…

Remember those anti-war protests in Russia that we all praised last week?

These:

Well, while you were being distracted by the war against which these brave people were protesting, your own government has been busy outlawing the kind of protest they were carrying out.

This is important because we are being told that Russia is a repressive, authoritarian dictatorship. And it is true that protesters can expect to face lengthy prison sentences if they are arrested.

But just compare the jail terms they’ll get with what you’ll face if you protest against your own government after the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is passed into law:

The debate is in Hansard (although at the time of writing, not in full). You can read it here.

So much for the Tory UK’s freedom-loving democracy!

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Left-wing campaigner rejects Sunak’s energy loan. Will you?

An old friend of This Site has written to Rishi Sunak, turning down the Chancellor’s attempt to foist a £200 loan on him to pay for increased energy bills.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron (remember him from A Letter A Day to Number 10, back when David Cameron was in Downing Street?) said he was perfectly capable of managing his own poverty without having more of it pushed on him.

His letter states: “With regards to the recent news that all customers of energy companies in England will be given a £200 loan from the Government to be repaid over following years.

“I would like to state that I do not want this loan. I have not asked for this loan. I do not wish my energy company to transfer the loan to my account, nor take repayments from my account in the future, and I shall be writing to them to this effect.

“I have several reasons for this decision.

“I do not want any debt imposed upon me that I have not asked or given my consent for.

“It is a certainty that prices will continue to rise, thus creating more hardship which this imposed loan will only exacerbate.

“My chosen route to pay for energy is up front payments via Pay As You Go, I do not consent to any sum of money being added to my account that leaves me in debt for several years. I manage my poverty perfectly well without being indebted by you.

“Your government has a bitter record of forcing us into debt and hardship, whilst throwing billions of pounds at banks and corporations, I want no part of the imposition of this loan on ordinary people.”

These are very good points.

Will you be writing to reject Sunak’s plan to impose debt on you for years to come while enriching the privatised energy giants that a previous Tory government created – many of which are at least partly-owned by foreign governments?

Alternatively, you could report Sunak to the Financial Conduct Authority as he seems to be misrepresenting his squalid little loan as a “rebate” or “discount”:

Or will you just lie back and let him strip you of more self-respect?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook