By Isabel Ringrose
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2854

Tories ram through new anti-protest laws to protect king Charles

The Home Office told anti-monarchy group Republic that new offences now exist
Issue 2854
Protester holds up anti-monarchy sign at the Queens funeral procession in Scotland. Sign reads End monarchy. Up the workers

A protester holds up an anti-monarchy sign at the Queen’s funeral procession last November

The Tories rushed new repressive laws through parliament this week so they can be used against anti-monarchy demonstrations.

Now measures in the Public Order Bill are in force, courts can sentence protesters who block roads and railways could face a 12-month prison sentence, and there are six-month sentences and unlimited fines for those who lock on to objects or buildings. Judges can hand out three-year terms for tunnelling.

The government originally introduced these attacks to put down climate protests.

In the run-up to the coronation, Just Stop Oil plans to march from Parliament Square every morning. Its tactics include slow marches to bring the city to a halt.

As the law, was passed, police arrested at least 16 activists. Just Stop Oil says “multiple arrests” had taken place with people “dragged off the street and handcuffed”.

Meanwhile Republic, which plans to protest against the coronation, has accused the Home Office of sending an “intimidatory message” in the hope it calls off its action. “I would be grateful if you could publicise and forward this letter to your members who are likely to be affected by these legislative changes,” says the Home Office letter. It lists the creation of new criminal offences.

Republic has put out a call to demonstrate on Saturday, coronation day, despite the new police powers and the threatening letter.

“It is a mystery why the Home Office thought it was necessary to send us a letter that could be interpreted as intimidation,” Republic organiser Graham Smith said.

Smith told Socialist Worker, “People need to stand up for the right to protest. And the coronation needs to be directly challenged by protests.”

He added that the Home Office’s letter “fits with the pattern for the way this government behaves.” “They have an agenda and I hope that doesn’t have a chilling effect on people who come,” he said.

Tory security minister Tom Tugendhat insisted the laws hadn’t come into place because of the coronation and said that the coronation is a “chance to show our liberty”. In fact under the new law any protests that are “disruptive” can be shut down by cops. 

Some 11,500 cops will be on the streets for the coronation, which security forces are calling “Operation Golden Orb”.

Officers will line the route and plain-clothes cops will hide in the crowds, with snipers waiting on the rooftops. The state is spending £150 million on “security”, on top of the £100 million for the “slimmed-down” coronation itself.

Republic’s static protest under the statue of Charles I will include speakers, and be ready to shout “Not My King” as Charles III goes past in his golden carriage.

“The media will try to make out that the coronation is in the interests of the majority,” Smith said. “In actuality, there’s probably going to be minimum interest. The institution needs to be abolished.”

The best way to resist the Tories’ repression and increased police powers is to march, protest and resist the new law at every opportunity—including at the coronation.

  • Coronation Protest from 9am, Trafalgar Square near the Charles I statue at the top end of Whitehall, London WC2N 5DS. Wear yellow

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