The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused Labour of abandoning a commitment to protect the right to protest following comments by UK Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer that he would not immediately scrap the Conservatives’ controversial Public Order Act if Labour came to power in a General Election.
The Public Order Act, introduced by the Conservative Government this year, has been criticised by human rights organisations as draconian and an attack on the right to protest with potentially dangerous consequences for democracy.
Potential problems with the Act were highlighted earlier this month with the arrest of campaigners for a republic on the Coronation Day, in a move some international press outlets described as being something you would expect to happen in Moscow, not on the streets of London.
The Leader of the Cardiff Liberal Democrat Council Group and Cardiff Central general election candidate Rodney Berman has called on Cardiff’s four Labour MPs to publicly commit to scrapping the Act, or be at risk of supporting authoritarian legislation.
Commenting Cllr Rodney Berman said:
“The events that transpired at the Coronation at the start of this month only went to demonstrate the chilling impact this piece of legislation could have on civil liberties in the UK. The fact people can be arrested without causing a disturbance should worry us all.
“These new anti-democratic attempts to silence opposition by the Conservatives is deeply troubling and the fact Labour seem willing to support them makes the situation even more dangerous.
“Many people in Cardiff will be deeply concerned about this issue and that is why I am calling on Cardiff’s Labour MPs to all publicly commit to scrapping this draconian piece of legalisation. It is not enough to stand by and be complicit.
“These new powers are unnecessary and illiberal and the Liberal Democrats will fiercely resist them, as all progressive parties should do.”