Coming together to defend our right to resist


“There’s a comprehensive assault on basic civil liberties – the right to strike, right to protest peacefully and right of journalists to report without arrest.”

John McDonnell

By Logan Williams

Since the 2019 General election, we have seen the varying hues of Conservative government seek to utilise increasingly authoritarian legislation to block British peoples’ democratic right to protest. We have seen this from the minimum service levels bill which seeks to withdraw key workers right to strike to the Public Order Act which seeks to block ‘noisy’ protest from occurring.  

As the launch event of this year’s Arise Festival, the volunteer team are hosting a mammoth rally on Wednesday 31st May which seeks to demonstrate the wide range of voices standing up to defend our right to resist. This event will see leading figures from across the labour movement, left parliamentarians, youth movements, BAME groups, anti-racist activists and climate campaigners come together to discuss how we as a movement should organise to defend our right to resist and say ‘No more’.

The event will feature key MPs who have been campaigning in defence of our civil liberties and democratic rights,, such as Bell Ribeiro Addy MP who argues that “the anti-protest laws are being used exactly as intended – to stop people speaking out against the damage the powerful are wreaking on society”. As Bell says, “It shouldn’t be up to senior police officers and Ministers to dictate whether people can exercise their right to protest.” She adds: “They’ve passed Bill after Bill attacking the right to protest, but we aren’t going anywhere.”  So we must now further step up campaigning.

Bell will be joined by Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP who in promoting the event highlighted that the real motivation for passing these pieces of legislation is “intimidating unions, attempting to distract from the disastrous handling of the cost-of-living emergency, and to shift the balance of power from labour to capital.” John continued by stating: “We need to be clear that there must be continuing mass opposition across society against this and all attacks on our civil liberties.” He went on to argue that “when the first trade unionist is sacked, people will be out there saying they won’t have it – and we will all need to out there with them.”

The event is also supported by Matt Willgress, National Coordinator of the Arise Festival who states: “The shameful rushing through of anti-protest legislation in the run-up to the Coronation – and how police treated protestors during it – starkly illustrate how a deeply unpopular Government has had a major authoritarian shift on top of years of attacks on our democratic rights.”

As John McDonnell has said, “There’s a comprehensive assault on basic civil liberties – the right to strike, right to protest peacefully and right of journalists to report without arrest… The time has come for a new movement to defend our civil liberties.”

The Our Right to Resist rally promises to be a key step in forming co-ordination and links between difference elements of those organising in opposition to these increasingly draconian pieces of legislation against the labour and progressive movements. It is vital that we come together to amplify those protests seeking to defend our right to resist and highlight the work of the labour movement both in the workplace and Parliament to overturn these pieces of legislation.

Join us on May the 31st to discuss how we stand up for our right to resist!

  • Our Right to Resist” takes place today (May 31st) at 6.30pm. The online rally is taking place as the opening session of Arise: A Festival of Left Ideas with John McDonnell MP; Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP; Chantelle Lunt, Kill the Bill & BLM UK; Robert Poole, Strike Map; Fran Heathcote, PCS Union; and many more! Register here.
  • Logan Williams is an an organiser for Arise Festival, you can follow Logan on twitter here; and see what’s coming up at Arise Festival 2023 here.
  • This article was originally published by Labour Hub on May 30th, 2023.
Featured image: The Save Our Schools demonstration held in Trafalgar Square, London on March 15th, 2023. Photo credit: Labour Outlook

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