The Times, Thunderer, 8 February 2006
by Heather Brooke
Forget all this namby-pamby peaceful protesting. The only way to grab a politician’s ear is to do so with force. That’s the loud and clear message from the authorities. The police record clearly shows they take a softly-softly approach towards religious extremists who threaten violence, but a sledgehammer approach when faced with peaceful protesters.
The Islamic protests last weekend in London have led to questions in Parliament about why the police failed to arrest those holding placards advocating mass murder. Meanwhile, the police have shown no delay in arresting peaceful protesters. According to Hansard, police have arrested 28 people protesting peacefully for taking part in “unauthorised demonstrations” in the “designated area” around Parliament since August 2005. The Met arrested 57 peaceful protesters outside an arms trade exhibition in September 2005. These protesters went so far as to dance in the street; a few climbed on top of a standing train.
You can see the mistake made by these deluded activists. They clung to the belief that the Government rewards those who play by the rules with a listening ear. But the Serious Organised Crime Act makes it an offence to protest peacefully outside Parliament. The Government sees no difference between dancing in the street and inciting beheading.
Peaceful protests are the steam valves for a democratic society, so by criminalising all protests, no matter how participants behave, the temptation is to say: “What the hell, let’s go for it!”
And this is exactly what has come to pass. Just look at Fathers4Justice. Hundreds of law-abiding families and lobbyists tried for years to reform the failing family justice system. Then suddenly a gang of thugs invades Parliament, throws condoms at the Prime Minister and posts letters of excrement to the head of the Family Court and before you know it — bam! The family courts are reformed.
This is a dangerous message for any government to send out to its people. For it is a drawn-out process to achieve change peacefully. Those treading the path must feel their efforts may be rewarded. Instead, the vast powers of the police to arrest are influenced by politics and political correctness. On one hand they are tough on the peaceful; on the other they are soft on the thugs who march under the banner of Islam.