Snipe - The Scoop

Friday, 23 July 2010

Ban protests to save money says Tory AM

A Conservative London Assembly Member has called for bans on protests in the capital, in order to save money.

Steve O'Connell, one of the highest paid councillors in the country, said yesterday that we could no longer afford the "luxury" of demonstrations:

"The point I'm making here is in the new era of very difficult financial choices are we able to continue with the luxury of demonstrations going forward in a very liberal manner with a small 'l' and commit the costs that we have in the past? I don't believe we can afford to go forward in that way."

Speaking to the Metropolitan Police Authority, O'Connell said that policing protests would no longer be seen as a "priority" by residents:

"Should we not actually be considering whether we can continue offering the [policing] service to these demonstrations? Should we not have a situation where we get to the stage where if the funding isn't there to provide the service, we should be having a conversation with the organisers where we say "you cannot have your event because we do not have the resources to fund it"?

The huge costs of the Tamil protests were widely objected to last year and the cost of managing the Parliament Square protests were also used as a justification for a ban.

And with 25%- 40% cuts on their way the Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said yesterday that it would be "absurd" to suggest that the force would not shrink.

Yet O'Connell's comments come as the government anticipates widespread protests and civil unrest against these cuts.

As Labour MPA member Toby Harris wrote on his blog yesterday:

"The Coalition Government knows how problematic some of their policies are going to be, particularly as the massive cuts in public services start to take effect.

They also know how convenient it will be if dissent can be suppressed in the name of cost saving.

Steve O’Connell was clearly flying a kite on behalf of the Coalition. He certainly hasn’t been slapped down by more senior members of his Party."

Now Harris may be getting slightly ahead of himself here.

But with police cuts already coming could government austerity increasingly be used as a justification for restricting personal liberty?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

How much would it cost to arrest all the people protesting illegally then? Very short-sighted from Steve O'Connell

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Did he not think before he spoke?

AdamB said...

I'm sure he did Daniel. The cost of protests is a running theme for him I think.

Mrs Angry said...

When are the Liberals with a big L going to show some balls and withdraw from a coalition government with a Tory party full of idiots like these, who seeks to stifle debate and suffocate the democratic process?

Appealing of Ealing said...

Mrs Angry said...
"When are the Liberals with a big L going to show some balls and withdraw from a coalition government with a Tory party full of idiots like these, who seeks to stifle debate and suffocate the democratic process?"

What's your evidence for this?

What did you make of Labour's record on civil liberties then? What did you make of May's new guidance on stop and search? What did you make of Alan Johnson's reaction to it?

Anonymous said...

I do like a good bit of whataboutery on a Saturday morning!

Guano

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Tories World of Freedom to The People,and let the people have more freedom to decide.I think that David Cameron was trying to make people think that they had a voice ?

Anonymous said...

Protest (demonstrations) is a basic right not a "luxury".

Let anyone uncertain about the true face of the Conservative Party now see it revealed. I suspect if things were their way we would not have elections either....

Be afraid.

James McCarthy said...

Let's be thankful we've got a hung parliament and the libdems didn't take the advice to only support a minority government which would have gone back to the country by now. We'd have a majority Tory government seriously thinking about these ideas.

Anonymous said...

What an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Well, writing to them doesn't work, I've been waiting months for a reply from Cameron and IDS fobbed me off with a reply about benefits when I explained how angry I was regarding his obvious discrimination against lone parents. Holding a protest is a civil right, not a luxury.

Tories don't like the middle class, the working class or the poor. We are the enedmy and they are doing everything they can to make sure we don't have a voice. It won't work because we are not living in a "Broken Britain". I'm not broken, are you?

I can smell the fear, they are scared...

Anonymous said...

With or without the government saying it's okay, people are going to protest. And if they won't let us do it legally, I bet you'll see more violence at them, because people will want to cause as much trouble as possible. If you're going to get arrested for protesting, you might as well do it in style, right?

Anonymous said...

if the rich actually paid their taxes we would not be having this discussion, as there would not be a deficit, its ok obviouisly to go after the poor for benefit fraud for (which is a fraction of the amount the rich owe) but the rich are it seems above the law- NO EQUALITY and don't get me started on the royals (just existing in their status)on the equality debate

Anonymous said...

Still some way to match New Labour's attack on civil liberties which were becoming truly terrifying.

earthfrog7 said...

Steve O'Connel is too far up his Ivory Tower to see what's going on on ground level,,presumably the higher his salary the higher his tower..

earthfrog7 said...

Steve O'Connel is obviously too far up his Ivory Tower to see what's happening at Ground Level, presumably the higher his salary the higher his tower..