When I saw the picture of Patsy Stevenson being arrested, when she was attending a candlelit vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common, it reminded me of the quotation from George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” Although this situation is not on the same level, this is the direction it appears to be heading.
Priti Patel, Boris Johnson’s Home Secretary, recently added amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, as it was going through the final stages in the House of Lords. This was to add more punitive anti-protest powers to it. This has effectively criminalised being involved in any act of protest.
A democracy with the right to protest removed, is no longer a democracy.
Patsy was not protesting, she was taking part in the vigil for Sarah Everard who was kidnapped, raped and strangled by a police officer. The gathering in Clapham Common was considered illegal under lockdown restrictions. The decision to apply a heavy-handed approach did not come from local police, but higher up the command chain.
There is a growing amount of unrest in the UK, particularly regarding the destruction of the National Health Service (England), which has already had large chunks sold off to privatisation. The new Health and Care Bill can be more appropriately described as “We don’t care about your health”, because it is only beneficial to very rich people and detrimental to everyone else.
The government’s Prison Estates Transformation Programme is building mega-prisons, not just for the incarceration of another 18,000 people, but for profit. England and Wales already has highest imprisonment rates in Western Europe.
Corporate Watch reported in Prison Island about government plans to open a new ‘Secure School’ as part of a wave of children’s prisons. The contract to takeover Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) in Kent from G4S was put out to tender after abuse was exposed in the prison.