I had SUCH a blast Sunday!
I don't know if non-British LJers would know this, but in the aftermath of 7/7, a classic panic-law was passed. It's now illegal to have any sort of protest or demonstration within a mile of Whitehall, unless you get police permission. This is an erosion of historic civil liberties and rights of the British people. It's absolutely outrageous, frankly; it's been the historic right of the people to take their grievances to those in power. It's part of a growing feeling of authoritarionism in this country, and undermines the truth that the state is there because of individuals, and is there to look after our best interests -- not the other way around.
You might have guessed that I hate this law. It was made primarily to remove the embarrassing publicity caused by Brian Haw. He has been on an anti-war vigil since the start of the war in Iraq. He sits in a folding chair at the front of Parliament Square, wearing a hat covered in badges. He has a big board covered in clippings about the war, and a variety of brightly-coloured umbrellas. The law was supposed to get rid of him, but the courts ruled that he'd started before the law was in place, and it wasn't retroactive. That gave me such glee. I LOVE Britian's judiciary!
There have been police raids, with a dozen officers descending on Brian and stealing his stuff. A woman was arrested for reading out names of British soliders killed in Iraq in front of the Houses of Parliament. Recently an article in Vanity Fair was published, detailing "Blair's Big Brother Legacy". This includes laws that allow any communication to be eavesdropped on without explanation. A visitor to Parliament was arrested for carrying three copies of that issue of Vanity Fair, since he was carrying "politically motivated material", as police described it.
And people are ignoring it. Our rights seem to be being systematically dismantled and nobody cares. The non-demonstration demonstration is a picnic held every Sunday in Parliament Square. I always go. We sit and have a picnic. We have blank placards, to show how we're not demonstrating, yet we are.
Some weeks there are arrests, some weeks there aren't. I always leave when we're warned, though. My mum quite often comes with me. My dad's currently in Japan so she certainly can't be arrested, since I have two young sisters at home. Mum insists I not get myself arrested. The law is being enforced less and less, though, and Mum's tension at joining me in our illegal protest is easing.
It's always fun. We talk about lots of different things, and discuss politics always. My favourite fellow protestor is Artemis. She is five-and-three-quarters and a regular acrobat. We play, because as I say, we're the two youngest and we need to stick together. It was great this Sunday, because it was wonderfully sunny. We sat on the grass and waved blank placards, read the Observer and in my case, re-learnt cartwheels with my three-foot tutor. I LOVE IT.