Tag Archives: Parliament Square

Do you agree with VP that the government has earned our disrespect?

Keith Lindsay-Cameron writes the popular ‘A Letter A Day To Number 10’ and is a friend of Vox Political. His latest missive to David Cameron takes a similar attitude to that adopted by VP yesterday, regarding the respect we should accord to a prime minister – and a government – like David Cameron’s:

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Dear Mr Cameron,

No party has ever brought politics into such disrepute as yours, the disrespect you heap on the nation on a daily basis is outrageous!

Such statements as – “people who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks” as they have “the least to lose” – David Freud.

Iain Duncan Smith – “But essentially Universal Credit as a benefit will be the benefit by 2016 and the remains of the vast, vast majority of the stock will be in place pretty much by the end of 2017.”

Iain Duncan Smith, mocking reporters over his avoiding the bedroom tax debate – “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!”

David Scott, a Tory councillor from Tunbridge Wells – “The other area I’m really concerned about is obviously the disabled. I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the minimum wage.”

David Freud – “Now, there is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour.”

Alan Mellins, a Conservative councillor from Maidenhead, on Travellers – “Execute them.”

Then there are the routine lies and falsified figures, election promise lies, welfare lies, economic lies, NHS lies, really, you name it and it’s doubtless been lied about.

Last week in Parliament Square should be held up and remembered as a beacon of what your party is all about, the oppression of the people.

Respect is earned, Mr Cameron, and by heaven the people of this country are due some respect, but you are not. You have earned all the disrespect that can be heaped upon you as a silly, ignorant, rich boy playing at politics, serving vested interests, robbing the nation and worthy of our greatest disrespect!

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/nov/23/lord-freud-welfare-poor-risk

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/universal-credit-iain-duncan-smith-2894737

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-fury-running-scared-2786058

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/15/welfare-reform-minister-disabled-not-worth-minimum-wage

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/andy-mcsmiths-diary-exterminating-travellers–not-a-laughing-matter-9811864.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/11/pre-election-pledges-tories-are-trying-wipe-internet

http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/nhs-privatisation-compilation-of.html

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Democracy has come to life in Parliament Square – New Internationalist blog

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The farcical police brutality towards Occupy Democracy is a sign the authorities are running scared, argues Hannah Martin.

A group of people are listening to Caroline Lucas MP discuss democracy and policy. They are listening much like any group of political supporters would do across Britain: the occasional ‘hurrah’ or murmur of assent makes for a warm atmosphere; people are attentive and appreciative. The difference here is that the group has been holding this space in Parliament Square for six days in the face of disproportionate police brutality, unforgiving weather and a considerable lack of sleep.

This is Occupy Democracy – a grassroots action stemming from the Occupy movement. The group is here to provide a visible alternative to the politics of vested interest: to try to model what real democracy could look like through a 10-day occupation of a symbolic space. With workshops, debate and shared decision-making, their programme includes days dedicated to discussing equality, the environment, war, money and tax, public services and positive solutions.

The Occupy action has gained huge solidarity and support via social media in Britain and across the world, while receiving limited coverage on the mainstream news. There are obvious similarities with Hong Kong’s ongoing civil disobedience campaign – not least the use of umbrellas for shelter – and, like in Hong Kong, action has continued despite repeated police attempts to squash it with heavy-handed tactics.

I must admit, when I first heard about the action, for a fraction of a second it crossed my mind that maybe this might have been more effective if it was held in a conference centre. Surely that would be a more suitable space for engaged and intelligent debate than a windy, exposed and police-protected square of grass? I mean, how much would we actually get done in those conditions?

But then I attended the TUC (Trades Union Congress) march on Saturday and I took part in UK Uncut’s ‘tax-dodgers bingo’. And I saw how at every Starbucks, Nero’s and Tesco on the march route there were police lining the shop-front. Who were they guarding? Whose freedoms were they protecting?

I saw how some of the protesters had been getting creative, transforming a tarpaulin into a banner that said ‘WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR FRACKING’. And I remembered again the truth: that we didn’t vote for Prime Minister David Cameron’s ever-desperate dash to drag remaining fossil fuels out of the ground in direct contradiction to our emissions reduction targets. That we also didn’t vote for changes to trespass law, or for the criminalization of ‘Occupy-style’ protests. We certainly didn’t vote for TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership set to curtail the rights of individual governments to stand up to transnational corporations). We didn’t vote for student fees, austerity and the cuts either. So, whose rights exactly is this government representing?

Considering all this, occupying a square opposite the seat of power feels entirely appropriate and necessary in response to such an ‘undemocracy’.

Read the rest on the New Internationalist blog site.

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Are the police joining Occupy Democracy now?

Police presence: Were these law guardians persuaded by the threats to their own well-being - all allegedly part of current government plans - listed on the banner?

Police presence: Were these law guardians persuaded by the threats to their own well-being – all allegedly part of current government plans – listed on the banner?

If you’ve been reading Vox Political lately, you’ll know that an organisation called Occupy Democracy has been enjoying a frosty relationship with the police in Parliament Square, Westminster, ever since last Thursday (October 17).

The idea was that people who are disillusioned with the depth to which our democracy has fallen – with only the voices of the rich and powerful being heard – would begin a fight for a real democracy, transforming the Square into a civic space where attendees could re-envision what our society could be like, with talks, workshops, community assemblies, music and theatre.

Unfortunately, certain people, possibly including London Mayor Boris Johnson, had other ideas and the police were sent in as political tools to clear the Square in order to allow the erection of metal fencing around it, on the grounds that this public space is private property. Nice!

Yesterday, members of the Occupy movement responded by linking up in a human chain around the fenced-off Square. Here’s what happened, in pictures tweeted by those who were there:

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Hopefully we’ll have more coverage tomorrow.

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Politician arrested in Occupy London protest – Guardian

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Police have arrested 15 demonstrators at Parliament Square including, for a brief period, the Green party politician Jenny Jones, according to The Guardian.

Jones, 64, chairwoman of the London assembly’s economy committee and deputy chair of its police and crime committee, went to see what was happening at the Occupy London protest on Tuesday morning after her office had been contacted by protesters complaining about heavy-handed police tactics.

She was arrested for “obstructing police” and could now face prosecution, Scotland Yard said.

It added that she was “de-arrested” after giving details suitable for a summons.

“The evidence in this case will be considered and a decision made whether to proceed with a prosecution,” a Met spokesperson said.

Jones said she was released because, “they [the police] don’t want more trouble”.

“They shouldn’t have arrested anybody here,” she said. “They should have just listened and left them alone.”

According to its website, the goal of the Occupy Democracy campaign is to “direct the energy from current single-issue struggles into a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt and unrepresentative system”.

Jones is scheduled on Wednesday to give an address to the protesters on policing and civil liberties. She went to the protest on Tuesday after hearing that the police had arrived in as many as eight vans and their response to the protest was “disproportionate”.

Speaking after she was released, Jones said: “The police have a duty to facilitate peaceful protest in this country which people have a legal right to do, but that appears to end as soon as you come within shouting distance of the Westminster village. The people who run this country should not be able to tuck demonstrators away out of sight. Parliament needs to listen and people should have the right to get their voices heard.”

The swoop by police follows a crackdown on Sunday night when large numbers of officers converged on the square to enforce a “desist notice”.

Scotland Yard said in a statement on Tuesday: “This morning there were around 15 people demonstrating in Parliament Square. The group on the grassed area had been sleeping on a tarpaulin which is prohibited under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act of 2011, namely they have items with them to enable them to sleep in Parliament Square.

“We informed them of the breach of legislation and asked them to leave, this was done on a one-to-one basis. They were told that if they failed to leave they would be removed from the site and would be liable to summons for the offence.

“The tarpaulin has been removed and 15 people have been arrested for failing to provide details suitable for a summons. They have been taken to a central London police station. Our role is to facilitate peaceful protest whilst balancing the needs of London communities and minimising any disruption. We will not take sides, but we seek to apply the law fairly and proportionately.”

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Occupy Democracy – The Battle of the Tarpaulin – indyrikki

This is a first-hand account of what’s been happening at the Occupy Democracy rally in Parliament Square, London, as posted on the indyrikki blog yesterday. The article provides a large amount of background detail on the event and its progression but Vox Political is going to cut to the police involvement. For a fuller picture, please visit indyrikki’s blog.

The ridiculously named “Heritage Wardens”, who patrol Parliament and Trafalgar Squares, were busy pointing out infringements of the Bye-Laws. These rules were passed in 2012, shortly after the Occupy Camp was evicted from St Paul’s… and they prevent all manner of public behaviour that might be associated with protest and especially occupation, also giving the immediate power of seizure without having to bother with legal impediments such as courts and judges.

A sleazy reporter from the Daily Mail, who seemed to have close ties with the authorities, told me that the Superintendent (“a lovely chap”) wasn’t going to mess around, and would make it “short and sweet”, and sure enough, the disruption and harassment began.

First, a couple of units of TSG moved in and surrounded the blue tarpaulin that was being used to keep extremist bums dry on the grass. But despite the intimidation and police numbers, people linked arms and chanted (see vid below), and the tarp remained in place.

Next, the Super sent in a highly-trained ‘bunting snatch squad’ comprised of Heritage Wardens and police.

Another snatch squad unceremoniously pulled down the delicate towers and hauled them away. A small ‘safer spaces’ display board was wrestled away from an occupier, with thuggish police committing several assaults as they withdrew with their booty, and finally the small sound system was removed, again with brute force against peaceful but enraged members of the public.

As darkness fell, a massive police cordon formed near the edges of the grass, and anyone arriving was informed that the park had been closed at 7pm, and that people were not allowed in under Section 1 of PRASRA, which was of course nonsense, as it was actually under bye-laws, and by then they’d run out of copies of the bye-laws (which they are required to show when enforcing).

“You can’t stop an idea” is a familiar truism of the Occupy and Anonymous movements, and last night was an astonishing and beautiful example, as occupiers carried on their talks, music and assembly despite interruptions, and later in the night, their solicitors caused the police to back down and allow people to enter the square until the GLA could show that their sudden “closure” was in any way lawful.

Some brave folk stayed again through a second night, with little opportunity to sleep, any attempt to pitch a tent triggering immediate attack and seizure.

Despite all this petty repression, the Occupy Democracy timetable of events is planned to continue, with fabulous speakers and events connecting many ideas, movements and people throughout the next week, in the safe knowledge that they are ruffling the feathers of the corrupt and powerful.

If a couple of hundred activists can cause so much panic, imagine what two thousand, or two million could achieve.

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UPDATE 19th OCTOBER – Battle of the Tarpaulin – Part Two

As darkness fell this evening, 140 police officers entered the square and, assaulting people (with reports of dragging folk by their heads and use of pressure points), they snatched the four tarpaulins. They also trampled over peoples’ belongings and especially food and drink, causing a mess. Occupiers are beginning to use the hashtag #tarpaulinrevolution, and are asking people to come to the square bringing tarpaulins or umbrellas. Any donations of waterproof trousers or tarpaulins that could be cut up and wrapped round waists greatly appreciated.

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Less freedom in Westminster’s Parliament Square than in Hong Kong! – The Ecologist

police kettling and breaking up peaceful protesters in Westminster [Image tweeted by Heather Croall].

Police kettling and breaking up peaceful protesters in Westminster [Image tweeted by Heather Croall].

Donnachadh McCarthy went to Parliament Square yesterday to address a peaceful rally about the failings of British democracy. The intimidatory, violent and inflammatory police reaction only confirmed everything he had to say – as did the dignified restraint of the Occupy Democracy protestors, according to The Ecologist:

Yesterday I was invited to speak about ‘The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought’ – at the Occupy Democracy Rally in Parliament Square.

The plan was to give the talk (which went well – despite being nervous) and meet up with a friend later for dinner.

Instead I ended up being threatened with arrest not once, not twice but six times and ended up sleeping rough in the open all night in Parliament Square with the amazing people seeking to establish the weeklong democracy Occupy Democracy forum !

The first near arrest was for holding on to a placard stating that “Occupy Democracy is a drug and alcohol free zone”.

Three policemen nearly broke my fingers to take it off me, whilst refusing to tell me on what grounds a peaceful protester could not have such a placard.

The second near arrest was when about 60 of us were sitting around in a circle on the grass discussing democracy and occupy. About 40 riot police surrounded about 20 of us and kettled us in. They then threatened us with arrest for refusing as peaceful citizens to give our names.

The third near arrest happened when I helped rescue one of the peaceful democracy debaters from a snatch squad.

The fourth near arrest happened when I saw the private security guard boss who disgracefully now police Parliament Square (AOS) , indicate uglily three peaceful democracy debaters whom he wanted arrested and helped grab them out of the way.

The fifth near arrest was when I argued that the police were guilty of unnecessary harassment and making a farce of the Metropolitan Police, in seeking to wake up one of the democracy debaters who was asleep, as they claimed the plastic bag he was using to keep himself dry was “an object assisting him to sleep” and that this was illegal in Parliament Square!

The sixth and final near-arrest was this morning when the police sergeant and four policement dragged me away from Occupy Democracy for the heinous crime of holding a placard with their values:

“Peaceful non-violence
No discrimination of any sort
No drugs or alcohol on-site”

They eventually tore it off me, after I exercised peacecful direct action in seeking to hold on to it, whilst asking on what grounds it was illegal to have such a sign and the sergent tore it to shreds.

Hundreds of police – but whatever for?

There were literally hundreds and hundreds of police surrounding the democracy debate.

Then another police cordon around the squares footpaths – within which the press were banned.

Then the entire boundary of the square was surrounded by police vans.

A police helicopter hovered overhead. Hundreds more police were in vans spread all around the vecinity.

This massive over-policing and attempts to shut the democratic forum down was truly shocking and outrageous.

However, despite repeated provocation the democrats remained peaceful, and with huge help from the legal team, Occupy faced down all of the attacks and is now proceeding peacefully with talks and workshops all week, including today.

Please go and support these brave protesters today or during the week if you can.

I am now going to crash … grateful for not being in jail and grateful for helping claim this space for open democratic debate for nine days, outside the Whore of Parliaments.

Vox Political wants your observations about this event, the issues surrounding it and the reaction of the authorities. If you were there, please tell us what you experienced; if you weren’t, tell us what you think of it.

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