Anti-Monarchy Campaigners Vow to Resist Home Office Attempts to ‘Intimidate’ Republican Protests on Coronation Day
The Home Office sent campaign group Republic a letter setting out new powers to crush ‘disruptive’ protests ahead of planned peaceful protests against King Charles, Josiah Mortimer reports
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Anti-monarchy campaigners have pledged they will not be deterred by officials and police, after receiving a “passive aggressive” letter from the Home Office setting out new powers to control protests.
The letter, sent anonymously from the Home Office Police Powers Unit, has been interpreted by campaign group Republic as a “passive-aggressive intimidation” of a legitimate protest group, ahead of the King’s coronation on Saturday.
Several protesters were arrested last year for demonstrating against the King’s accession peacefully, including one barrister who held up a blank piece of paper, and a pacfist group leader who shouted “Not my King.”
It comes as polling for Byline Times by Omnisis shows that most voters back the right to protest against the coronation. Fifty percent of voters back the right to protest Saturday’s events, compared to just 33% who disagree.
A clear majority – 57% – of Labour voters back the right to protest against the coronation, but that drops to a minority among Conservative voters. Just a third of Conservatives (36%) back the right to protest against the coronation, compared to 46% who think it should be banned.
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The letter to Republic from the Home Office stated: “As you may already be aware, the Public Order Bill passed its final stages of parliamentary scrutiny [on Tuesday…It is the Government’s intention to bring into force the following criminal offences and measures the day after the Bill gains Royal Assent.
It clarifies who can be arrested for “serious disruption”, defining it as “a hindrance, delay, or prevention to more than a minor degree to specified activities, deliveries, or access to specified essential goods and services.” It also bans “locking on” to objects or people. “Any person found guilty of committing the offence after the coming into force of the measure will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, a fine or both.”
Even those simply deemed “equipped” to be able to “lock on” can be subject to a fine, without having done anything. The act also makes it a criminal offence to interfere with the use or operation of infrastructure listed as “key national infrastructure”.
Key national infrastructure includes “road, rail and air transport infrastructure, oil, gas and electricity infrastructure” and – in what is a direct response to Extinction Rebellion protests against News UK – “newspaper printing infrastructure.”
Graham Smith, speaking for Republic, said: “We have had two meetings with the Met police, and numerous phone conversations. They have repeatedly said they have no concerns about Republic’s plans. It is a mystery why the Home Office thought it was necessary to send us an anonymous letter that could be interpreted as intimidation.”
“Republic will not be deterred and we will be protesting on Trafalgar Square and along the route of the coronation procession on Saturday.”
“It is telling that Charles, who has had no problem speaking up on various issues, has chosen not to defend democratic rights when they are being threatened in his name. Perhaps he might make it clear that he believes in the right to protest.”
Republic has planned at least seven events across Britain on Saturday, from London to Edinburgh, Cornwall and Cardiff. The letter from the Home Office is here.
When questioned by Byline Times, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister told reporters: “The right to protest is fundamental – that will not change. The PM hopes people will come together and recognise this is a momentous day of unity.”
Royals ‘Should No Longer Rely on Public‘
Fresh research from the independent Constitution Society shows the public are divided on future of monarchy – but a clear majority favour reform of their finances and more transparency
A poll published today by the Constitution Society finds that 53 per cent of people in Britain believe that members of the royal family beyond the King, Queen and Prince of Wales should not be supported from public funds.
Sixty-one per cent of people in Britain agree that information on their finances, including presently opaque aspects like the Dutchy of Cornwall, should be publicly accessible and clearly presented. The Guardian recently revealed that the King’s personal wealth likely makes him a billionaire.
The poll was commissioned by the Society to mark the forthcoming coronation of Charles III. It showed that a majority (54 per cent) favour keeping the monarchy, while 20 per cent want to create a republic.
But, if the monarchy is retained, there was significantly more support for reforming the institution than for it staying the way it is, by 45 per cent to 27 per cent.
Professor Andrew Blick of King’s College London, Senior Adviser to the Constitution Society, said: “The monarchy is a deeply embedded part of our public life and constitutional system. This poll confirms that a majority support its continued existence. But this figure is in the low 50s; and there is clear evidence of dislike for the wider royal family receiving financial support; and of support for royal finances being transparent.”
Find Out Now interviewed 2,211 GB adults online from 24-25 April 2023. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults by gender, age, social grade, other demographics and past voting patterns. Seven questions relating to the monarchy were asked.
Omnisis’ online polling of more than 1,000 GB adults for Byline Times was also weighted to be representative of the public in the week ending 30th April.
If you have a political or social story that needs telling, get in touch with Byline Times’ Chief Reporter Josiah Mortimer confidentially by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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