366. The right to demonstrate

In Twitteretter 362, I covered the right to unionise, under attack in some Western democracies. Today, I have to address the right to demonstrate. It seems our society made significant advances in the XIX and XX centuries in the rights of its citizens to represent their own interest, in the public arena and in the workplace, whilst the XXI century is a period where we are taking backward steps. In the UK, the Tory government is currently passing a bill that will significantly restrict, with coronavirus as the excuse, but with permanent effect, the right of citizens to peacefully demonstrate. This right is fundamental to citizens’ action in a democracy, and cannot be restricted except to ensure basic safety. The government is reopening pubs, restaurants, stadia and theatres, at the same time as outlawing open air demonstrations. Yet again, even their disguise is lazy. If the UK accepts this bill, it will have lost something fundamental, achieved only after hundreds of years of struggles

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