Do you remember a while ago, when there was a massive hoo-ha about having exclusion zones around abortion clinics? Wasn’t that a great notion? Wasn’t it an entirely fair and liberal idea to prevent anti-abortion protestors from being within physical spitting distance of women exercising their legal rights, and subjecting them to intimidation and bilious verbal abuse?
Funny then that the very same folk who were most stridently in support of that particular wheeze are now the most conspicuously absent on what has shaped up to be a truly disgraceful spectacle of intimidation by packs of howling leftie jackals of Conservative party activists and members at their conference.
Was it ever as bad as all this? Mayhaps some who remember the 1980s can fill me in in the comments below, but I have been truly shocked by the footage available, and some of the stories of the wholeheartedly arbitrary vitriol and thuggery dished out in Manchester against not just senior politicians, but ordinary people and journalists (who are of course not strictly people but they still have some feelings).
Amongst those targeted were Michael Crick, most recently a lefty darling for taking Godfrey Bloom to task and, wait for it, Owen Jones. Yes, you read correctly and I really don’t think any more needs to be said on that point.
Now, for the purposes of being entirely fair, and because the People’s Assembly will bawl their eyes out if I don’t highlight this: this does not represent everybody protesting at conference. Not everybody spits, not everybody shouts “Tory Scum”, nor does everybody intimidate journalists. I do, however, refuse to play down the gravity of what is going on here by describing them as a “small minority” quite simply because I haven’t done a comprehensive study to ascertain just how many of those present are horrendous idiots and how many aren’t, and you know what, neither the hell has anyone else!
You might think that I’m being a touch precious here; I am a Liberal Democrat, and recently attended my own party’s conference, entirely protested by that one anti-nuclear bloke with a dog who Iain Dale once rugby tackled on live television – What do I care? You might also say that my tears are better spent on the victims of government policy than on Tory delegates who knew full well what they were getting into. You might even argue many of them probably oppose the whole buffer- zones-around-abortion-clinics policy I mentioned earlier, and are therefore unworthy of the same consideration.
You might well be right, but beyond the fact that even a four year old child knows that two wrongs don’t make a right, this is so much more important than your opinion on Tories, crusties or anyone else.
People going to Tory conference are exercising a democratic right. Beyond that, they are exercising a basic civil liberty: the right to free assembly. With that goes a crucial human right, the right to not to be accosted, intimidated and verbally, never mind physically, assaulted whilst exercising that right. We very correctly have certain rules about what people may or may not do in or around a polling station, so why not a party conference? It doesn’t much matter, beyond that, as to how bad the Tories are, or what percentage of the protestors were peaceful, something the likes of Laurie Penny and co. in the militant twitter wing of the lefty press never seem to understand. You can’t explain your way out of this by saying “but the Tories hurt people with their policies”, this is about rights and liberties, something some elements only seem to be willing to protect when it suits them, and never, strangely enough, when it’s those “f*cking Tory scumbags”.
70,000 protestors, proudly boasted to be the number on the first day of the conference, is an army. No, it’s larger than most armies. 70,000 protestors could systematically tear every conference goer to shreds and the police could do little to stop them. It doesn’t matter if most were peaceful, or that they represented half a hundred factions, most of which famously hate each other, 70,000 people are terrifying. Shouting “Tory scum” whilst standing below banners which declare Tories to be less than human is neither a chant nor a protest song; doing that systematically, day in day out, as part of a group of 70,000 people is verbal assault and intimidation, even if a single egg isn’t thrown. Verbal assault, when the victim can reasonably fear for their safety, is a crime under British law, and yet lines of policemen stand and do nothing when these crimes are committed under the guise of “the right to protest”.
The irony is, these same people who probably spend all day ranting about the “fascist police state” we live in, are actually being coddled beyond belief. You don’t have a right to stand within quite literal spitting distance of people you have travelled to in order to hound and abuse, and you definitely don’t have a right to commit verbal (or physical) assault. The right to protest is fine, but it certainly isn’t limitless. It is entirely liberal to say that no one should have to stand face to face with a hate mob. You should have the right to protest, but you should have to do it somewhere away from the actual human beings you’re protesting against. Oh and you should probably also learn some damn manners.
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