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Editorial: It’s Rishi Sunak and co, not ‘the mob,’ that are the real threat to our democracy

DEMOCRACY is in danger, the Prime Minister has announced.

We agree. However, it is plain that the threat to civil freedoms comes from Rishi Sunak himself, his Tory government and the supine Labour opposition.

It is challenging to take Sunak’s assertion that the country faces “mob rule” seriously. It is as inane as Suella Braverman’s claim that Islamists are running the country — a sign of the Tories’ neo-populist fever.

But we should. It is the justification for proposing sweeping new police measures to clamp down on the right to protest.

This has not been mob rule — it has been a vast and sustained movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Yes, it has aimed to put particular pressure on political leaders.

That is not surprising — both Westminster front benches have fully backed Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.

Moreover, demanding that elected representatives listen to the people’s views is the very essence of our democracy.

It may be objectionable to beset them in their own homes. But there has been precisely one, entirely peaceful, example of this being done during the current Gaza crisis.

Alas, threats of violence against any figure in public life are also ubiquitous in our social media age. They cannot be ignored, but they are invariably from lone individuals entirely isolated from mass democratic movements.

What Sunak wants is to drive the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people, a movement supported by millions, off the streets.

It has rattled the Establishment, brought down the poisonous Braverman, forced a modification in Labour’s policy and led to a breakdown in parliamentary procedures as parties scramble to handle the fallout of their genocide collaboration.

The Tories and their acolytes like ex-Labour peer Lord Walney have promoted one idea after another to break the movement. It has been damned as anti-semitic. Far-right hooligans have been mobilised.

It has been suggested that the organisers of demonstrations should pay the police for the privilege. The police have been pressured to simply ban the marches and under ministerial direction they have placed onerous restrictions on them.

Now it is proposed to require six days’ notice of any protest, a provision which is redundant for most marches, as they are planned much further in advance, but which would curb last-minute actions responding to an immediate development.

We have been told that all marchers are Islamists or “extremists” and present Home Secretary James Cleverley has demanded that the organisers call them off since they have “made their point.”

However, the government has not yet got that point. It continues to thwart efforts to secure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

And the propaganda overlooks the fact that the repeated huge demonstrations have been almost entirely peaceful. Such few arrests as there have been have been mainly about the police stopping the display of what they regard as unacceptable slogans or images.

It is clear that the Establishment is rattled by the intensity of opposition to its pro-Israel policy and by the fact that the cosy Commons consensus is rejected by the country outside, which overwhelmingly wants a ceasefire.

And masses repeatedly mobilised on the streets always rattle the state, more or less regardless of the issue. These protests are still more menacing to the elite because they challenge the prerogatives of imperialism.

It is no surprise therefore that state prosecutor Starmer’s Labour has hardly raised a peep of protest.

But the solidarity protests are the voice of democracy. The bipartisan move against them is a threat to all our freedoms. The left must stand against the hysteria and assert our democratic right to hold politicians to account.

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