James McLelland calls for the Left to unite against the Tories and their new Police Bill
Many of you may remember several months ago when hundreds gathered in high town, and on one knee with raised fists we demonstrated our solidarity with millions of ordinary American people who stood up for justice, and their basic human and democratic rights. And daily we went home and saw live on social media how they faced the full force of the corrupt American state, as tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers flooded the streets to beat, and gas, and shoot those people who wanted nothing more than justice.
And now as Boris Johnson continues to prostitute our economy, our NHS, and our sovereignty to the United States, he has his eyes on an American export like no other: The very same oppression used against those American people who stood up for justice. He wants to bring those beatings, those gassings and those shootings to our cities, our towns and our streets. What Boris Johnson wants is very simple: The death of democracy in Britain.
This latest Tory attack is part of a multi-pronged offensive on our democratic rights. First comes voter suppression: the Tories plan to introduce Voter ID, and like their Republican friends in America they intend for this to stop certain groups voting, namely working class, the young, and ethnic minorities. Three groups that vote against the Tories. Requiring passports or driving licences to vote robs millions of the right to vote. Next are their plans to gerrymander our parliament: In 2023 new electoral boundaries will come into place that will rob Wales, Scotland, the North, and the Midlands of representation in parliament, and instead give more seats to the South East of England. There will be no way of challenging this so called “impartial” decision in parliament. Now, when we are unhappy with our right to vote being stolen from us, our MPs stolen from us, and any opposition in parliament stolen from us, the Tories seek to steal the one thing we have left: Our right to take to the streets.
When we live in a democracy that has already been bought and paid for by the rich, the rich who control the newspapers, the TV stations, and the Internet, this is an existential crisis like no other. The right to protest is one of the most important freedoms we have, one of the few democratic rights applying to all of us equally. For us free speech isn’t the media as none of us own any, free speech isn’t the vote because our electoral system is unrepresentative, free speech isn’t petitions because the people in power just ignore them. Our free speech is in numbers, our free speech is our unity, our free speech is on the streets. This is why protest is of such vital importance, because until the day comes where normal working people own the newspapers, and the TV stations, and the social media platforms we will have no other freedom of speech.
It is vital that we mobilise the largest possible alliance to smash this bill. We need to involve our colleagues, our classmates, and our families. We need to organise everywhere, grow the movement, and take action. Make the bill impossible to pass or to implement. Do not let Boris snatch the little democracy we have left. Join the movement, smash the Tories, Kill the Bill!
This text was originally delivered as a speech at the Hereford #KillTheBill demonstration on Wednesday 31st of March.