The former house secretary David Blunkett has stated the police, criminal activity, sentencing and courts expense dangers making the UK “more like Putin’s Russia”, and that it would be a “enduring and hazardous” legacy for the prime minister.
Writing in the Guardian, Blunkett, who worked as home secretary under Tony Blair, has stated the government’s plans to use the expense to prevent peaceful demonstrations would “leave a bad taste in the mouths of British individuals who value tolerance, democracy and open debate”.
” By offering police sweeping discretion about how they deal with protesters, this law would drive a wedge between them and the public,” he said.
” Enduring dissent and protest is a British value, and it’s central to our democracy. It’s paradoxical that this bill would imply far harsher treatment for protesters in Parliament Square, where statues celebrate Mandela and Gandhi, leaders of historical disruptive, loud and bothersome protest movements now taught in British schools.”
In reference to the criticism the Metropolitan police dealt with in their handling of the Sarah Everard vigil, Blunkett said the pressure the Met’s commissioner, Cressida Penis, dealt with “offers us an inkling of the debates that might blaze across the country if these sweeping powers are pushed on to the police”.
Blunkett’s comments followed a series of “kill the costs” demonstrations versus the proposed legislation. In Bristol, cops were criticised for falsely declaring officers suffered damaged bones throughout the protests, along with allegedly attacking a journalist who existed.
More “kill the bill” protests are planned at the weekend, with police warning protesters that they may remain in breach of Covid-19 limitations if they attend.
Blunkett stated that the results of the legislation passing would be felt throughout the political spectrum. He stated although it was “easy to stereotype the protesters as leftwing”, the expense would imply “pushing away others throughout the centre and right wing of the electorate whom the government will not desire– or can’t manage– to lose”.
He alerted that if the bill was to pass into law unamended there would be “more unsightly disputes in between the general public and the authorities– and a police that’s weaker for it”.
” Banning protest would make us more like Putin’s Russia than the UK. It would be a long lasting and toxic tradition for Boris Johnson.”
As house secretary, Blunkett dealt with criticism for the Authorities Reform Act of 2002, which critics argued would compromise police autonomy and “created the danger that the cops might be manipulated for political purposes”.