Sunak is blaming the fallout of his political losses on protests - and cutting off the lifeblood of our democracy

29 February 2024, 17:34 | Updated: 29 February 2024, 22:32

Sunak called for an end to the descent into 'mob rule'.
Sunak called for an end to the descent into 'mob rule'. Picture: Alamy
Raj Chada

By Raj Chada

Following the murders of MPs, Jo Cox and David Amess, we should never take the safety of our elected representatives for granted. 

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The vast majority of those that enter politics do it for noble reasons, to advance the public good. We can disagree about how that should be done, but such disagreements can never spill into violence and terror. Never.

MPs though need to be careful that the current debate about their safety is not being used as a proxy to shield them from the consequences of their decisions.

The ordinary citizen should not think that their only role in democracy is to cast a ballot once every four or five years. Surely we want an engaged population, ready to make their views known, to argue, to lobby and agitate for change?

Yet, with the labelling of protestors as “unruly mobs” and the plan to restrict protests even more, it seems that our elected officials take a different view: decision-making should be left to them and the hoi polloi should be quiet.

'Please don’t trouble us any more with your pesky protests about genocide, we know best,' is their attitude.

Protest gives voice to many of us who otherwise cannot be heard. Some politicians seem to think that addressing the party faithful or being lobbied by the rich and powerful in private is how elected politics should work. They are wrong. 

By trying to clamp down (yet again) on peaceful protest, they are cutting off the lifeblood our democracy. It is disgraceful that rather than discuss a potential genocide, MPs indulge in parliamentary shenanigans to avoid looking as if they are losing politically and then seek to blame protests for the fallout.

James Cleverly said “you have made your point – now stop and go home”. Does he apply the same logic to corporate lobbying or meeting the right wing press? Does he refuse to take Rupert Murdoch’s calls because, after all he must know his views already. Of course not. 

Protest is a vehicle for change. The establishment celebrates the civil rights movement or the suffragettes but criticise those that use protest today. It is wrong and dangerous.

John F Kennedy once said those that make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

Westminster should take heed of that message.

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