Having just witnessed some heavy-handed policing of some drippy sit-in at Clapham Common, the essence of the fledgling Policing Bill has now crystallised. A new maximum penalty of 10 years in jail for effectively hurting people’s feelings is on the cards.
It seems a tad weird that a Government that claims to care about freedom of expression and opposes wokeness is now enacting a snowflakes’ charter.
Even more confounding is the current Government disquiet at the manhandling of some shrieking girlies while at the same time paving the way for some serious stir for dissenters at the heart of western democracy. You would think that a swift poke with an extendable baton would be preferable to the extended deprivation of liberty, but hey ho.
Critically, ‘the serious annoyance’ that provides its perp with a protracted stay in the winkle shop does not even have to be caused. A conviction may follow only the risk of someone suffering it. Moreover, there does not need to be any intent on the part of the alleged transgressor – just recklessness, which is a much lower bar.
The whole episode screams right-wing scope creep, and it’s likely to get worse.
It is true with laws that we often end up with unintended consequences once the lawyers and courts have applied their own particular brand of rationale. Take the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) that was put in place to tackle terrorism and ended up being employed to spy on litter louts, council tax defaulters, and barking dogs.
This caper is arguably more striking in that it is already patently obvious that this law might be used with equal gusto by all the thin-skinned, huffy, woke centre lefties to push back hard on mainstream agendas.
Foot. Aim. Fire!
Most disturbingly, statues and monuments appear to have achieved a prominence on the Ministry of Justice bucket list at the expense of human beings. If you can cop a 10-stretch for defacing a statue but markedly less for raping a woman, it is little wonder that Josephine Public is more than just mildly miffed.
Potential vandals will doubtless already be concocting defences that they knew the statue well, or that its positioning and posture had ‘led them on’.
Meanwhile, our intellectually crippled Government continues to put its worst foot forward, but whether everybody toes the line remains to be seen.