Thursday, April 15

Protest is a fundamental right, as long as it does not upset Priti Patel | Politics


Police violence against women at a peaceful vigil on violence against women was never going to be a great aspect. So it was inevitable that the Home Secretary would be forced to give a statement to MPs about the events in Clapham Common last Saturday after a duty officer was charged with the murder of Sarah Everard.

And it was equally inevitable that Priti Patel would surf the entire session without revealing much about what she and the metropolitan police commissioner had discussed in the run-up to the vigil. Yet despite drawing attention to his Saturday night tweet of the “ disturbing images, ” he managed to convey the impression that he couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. The vigil had been banned beforehand and police were doing their best to implement the coronavirus restrictions.

Other than that, this was one of Patel’s best performances, a low bar, I know, in the House of Commons. Better because it was generally consistent, even if it didn’t have much to say. She, like all MPs, began by offering her sincere condolences to Everard’s family and friends before going on to say that she had launched an investigation into the surveillance of Saturday’s event and would await his report a couple of weeks earlier. commenting more. Instead, she drew attention to the domestic abuse bill that will become law next month and would offer greater protection for women.

In response, Labor’s shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds agreed with much of what Patel had said about the need for society, and men in particular, to change so that women can change. feel safe on the streets at night. Where he disagreed with her was on the details of the vigil surveillance. Something had gone chronically wrong, he said, to end in violence, adding that the anti-crime bill, due to receive its second reading later that night, would only make matters worse by banning protests. In its 296 pages, there were eight references to attacks on statues that carried a maximum sentence of 10 years, while rape cases began with a minimum sentence of five years.

“The right to protest is a fundamental freedom,” Patel insisted. As long as it wasn’t done in a noisy or annoying way for her. From now on, any protests should be done quietly, preferably between 11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., and only on government-approved topics. Like the color scheme of the new £ 2.6m Downing Street multimedia suite. Were the blue walls a little too bright? Were four union jacks behind the podium enough? Should the person who designed the logo for Downing Street to say ‘Dow Reet’ get a life sentence? Should the Henry Hoover be replaced by a Dyson in recognition of the inventor’s significant contribution to Brexit? And had Number 10 spent too much time indoors watching reruns of the west wing?

Patel found time to suggest that he found it curious that the Labor Party could complain about the low rate of convictions for rape while voting against a bill that would increase the minimum rate for the crime. She still has to understand that you have to vote for a bill as a whole and you cannot choose the parts that you like. Baby steps and all that, although she did hint to Yvette Cooper that she was willing to follow the recommendation of the chairman of the select committee on home affairs for a serial stalker registry.

Otherwise, the interior secretary did everything possible to deflect accusations, both from her own banks and from the opposition, that the police response had been harsh, lacking in empathy and disproportionate. She had been in discussions with the Met on the Friday and Saturday before the event, she admitted, although she had completely forgotten what those conversations were about.

Everything had been fine for about eight hours at the vigil, Tory Fay Jones added kindly, and then the militants had hijacked a peaceful event with “All cops are bastards” signs. Yes, that was exactly it, Priti Vacant agreed, before remembering that she had been urging everyone not to judge beforehand the results of the investigation she had called. Conservative Charles Walker was not having this. MPs were to blame, he said. They had criminalized freedom of protest and were up to their necks. Now was the time to lift all coronavirus restrictions so that people were free to do whatever they wanted. Patel wasn’t the only one who seemed surprised by this intervention. It’s not often that she’s not the craziest person in the room.

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