Saturday, 17 July 2010

Democracy Village gone so how about a Democracy Area

The Parliament Square protesters have lost their appeal against eviction. Some people are very pleased that their will be no more peace camp or Democracy Village because they see it as unsightly and not a good image for tourists. Others think it should stay because it is a good image for tourist to see democracy and free speech in action.

Personally I full somewhere in the middle (yeah I know typical Lib Dem). I believe in the freedom to protest but I also believe the camp itself was becoming a bit of a mess. So I'm torn.

How about a compromise. The middle way (Yeah I know typical Lib Dem).

The problem with the law around protesting near parliament is the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Area) Order 2005. There was little debate as this law was passed as part of the Parliament washup. It restricts freedom to protest in England and Wales. The ban on unauthorised protest around Parliament is one of the controversial parts of this bill . In a way the Democracy Village and Brian Haws protest is a response to this as much as this bill was a response to them.

The problem around parliament (it can be augued) is the safety of parliament from terrorist attack etc. This of course halts any sontanous protest. Protest are less effective when set away from parliament as they are out of the way and out of sight (out of mind).

So why don't we have an area close to parliament that people can't camp at but can use for protest or speeches and also may leave banners and signs etc to allow a controlled but spontaneous protest. A Democracy area would not cost a great deal of money. Just needs a big board and the police are already on site, easy.

Everyone can be happy a safe area to protest. It can be cleaned up when the green area is cleaned. Democracy will still be on show outside of parliament.

I will be writing to my local MP and to my party about this idea.

You can help me with my initial letter by letting me know what you think?


  1. This reminds me of a joke candidate at a past student union election who, in response to building occupations by pro-Palestine protesters, promised to concrete over the campus gardens and create a dedicated Protest Square.

    The point behind this humour is that to be penned to a defined location destroys the point of the protest. Yes, Parliament wanted Democracy Village moved for its visual effect on visitors - because it's presence there was designed to emphasise the negative impact of the protest on Government. To be put in a little concrete pen off to the side somewhere (and I don't know how well you know Westminster but there's really not an awful lot of spare building space lying around) would be just as ineffective in creating an impact as being moved off to some other part of London.

    You would maybe get a few tame media appearances there or something, but the spirit of Democracy Village grew out of its right to be wherever it wanted to be and make the message it wanted to make. if you try to create some sort of soft, legitimised equivalent then people would pay no heed and you probably wouldn't even garner the interest of the protesters. What we need is the return of the freedom to protest anywhere we want - including Parliament Square!

  2. The plan wuld have no pens. no gates. No walls. Big groups and small groups could turn up. I dont Really see a problem as long as their near the area then whats the problem.

    But I do agree that it should be anyway however this is a compromise which would still allow any protest.