Monday, August 21, 2006

Help defend free speech!

Please pass it on. Please, please. Thanks very much. More detail in this post. Right...

A recent damn-fool law has made it illegal to protest anywhere near Parliament without official police permission, and comedian Mark Thomas is organising a stunt to highlight the danger and stupidity of having this law in a democracy.

Please note that taking part in this is 100% LEGAL, and the whole purpose of the stunt is to overload the system by dozens of people all asking for permission to protest all at the same time.

The law: Under section 132 of the
Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 [PDF] it is an offence to organise or take part in a demonstration in a public place within the “designated area” (up to 1 km around parliament) if authorisation has not been given by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.Participants may be subject to a fine of up to £1000 and “organizers” face up to a year in jail. Tsk! Our How stupid is that? As if our jails aren't bursting at the seams as it is without locking up perfectly reasonable people trying to make a democratic point to a la-la-la-can't hear-you Government.

DESIGNATED AREA: Dozens of people have been arrested for not complying with the law even when they are taking part in “Lone Demonstrations” - i.e. if they are one person with a placard.

Many people see this legislation as an assault on our civil liberties and human rights. It’s not always practical to plan a week in advance what government activities you may or may not disagree with. Sometimes a spontaneous response is called for. And surely the most appropriate place to demonstrate against the government’s actions is within the newly “Designated Area”, at the very core of this country’s democratic foundation.

And why is New Labour so concerned about peaceful protestors anyway?If you apply for permission 6 days in advance for a lone protest (ie 1 person) they cannot refuse permission, so in order to highlight the ridiculousness of having to ask for police permission to hold a peaceful demonstration, Mark Thomas is organising a mass lone demonstration evening.

Anyone who wants to demonstrate about any issue can come along, or even if you just want to demonstrate your disgust at having to ask for permission to protest in a supposedly free country. Remember. This will NOT be breaking the law in any way!

In fact the purpose of this is to get as many people as possible complying with a ridiculous law. All at the very same time! Huzzah!

Stage 1 - Decide on your protest! This can be something you feel strongly about or something very silly – it’s up to you. Then you need to fill in the official form (which is very simple) and there is a copy of the form attached. Here you go.

Stage 2 - Meet on Thursday 24th August outside Charing Cross police station any time between: 5.30pm-6pm to hand in your SOCPA forms. The address is Agar Street, London, WC2N 4JP and a map is attached. You have to fill in form and hand it in to the police 1 week before you protest, so everyone has to turn up at the same time to give their forms to>the Police. This will mean if 100 people turn up and apply for permission, then the unfortunate police have to license and approve 100 lone demonstrations. (Yes, I know they have more important things to do. That's the whole point. It's for the long term good that we do this, so they can get on with catching baddies instead of wasting their time with this nonsense.) If you can’t make it to hand the forms in, but want to demonstrate on the 31st, post them to: Ben Stern S2S Suite Z009 Old Truman Brewery 1 Brick Lane London E1 6QL.

Stage 3 - The mass lone demonstrations will be 1 week later on Thursday 31st Augustand will again be at 6:00pm for 1 hour, so this event is open to those with day jobs. Come along! Join in! Exercise your democratic rights! The more people who, come the bigger an impression this will make!


STEP 1 Forward this on to any friends who have a burning issue that they might need to protest about and persuade them to come as well. This is also for anyone who finds it terrible that we have to ask for permission from the Police to peacefully protest outside Parliament.

STEP 2 Print out form

STEP 3 Fill in form with the issue that you wish to protest about.

STEP 4 5.30 - 6pm Thursday 24th August, show up at the same time as other>lone protesters at Charing Cross Police Station.

STEP 5 6pm Thursday 31st August, show up and protest about your personal issue in Parliament Square.

STEP 6 Consider continuing your protest again at a later date.

Again a group session for shy lone protesters will almost certainly be scheduled. Once again this is COMPLETELY LEGAL – in fact we are encouraging as many people as we can to apply the letter of the law simultaneously. Dozens of people have already agreed to do this so don’t worry that you’ll be doing this on your own. See the links below to learn more about SOCPA, the groups it has angered and the people it has affected. This is also likely to be covered by the press. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about this event.

Big shout out from me to Ben, and to Chris Atkins S2S Post The Old Truman Brewery 91 Brick LaneLondon E1 6QLT: +44 20 7053 2190
F: +44 20 7053 2188


Link to this blog -

See you there. And if you link this, I will link you back in a linky love fest of peace and democracy. I may even *buy you a pint.

UPDATE: 12.37PM - OK IT'S LATE, I'M TOTALLY KNACKERED FROM 2 HOURS POLE DANCING BUT I PROMISED...KEEP 'EM COMING...IT'S TIME FOR LINKY LOVE - big thanks to Justin of Chicken Yoghurt fame, Davide from The Netherworld, Rachel-Catherine, Gamba, Devils Kitchen, Nosemonkey, Matt GB, Peaceful Demonstrator ( let me know yr address p.d and I can link...) , A Very Long Way from Anywhere Else, D-Notice, Bloggerheads, The Chaps at The Chap, Tim Worstall , Infinitives Unsplit, urban 75 massive ( some of them) , Pippa of Philippa's Daily News Planet, Bishop Hill, David Goodman , Clairwil , Mother Damnable,
Dirty Dingus, Memespring DavideMark2 , Pub Philosopher The Vol Abroad , Democratic Underground

and Curious Hamster, who's on a bit of a roll at the moment and should be checked out
if you haven't popped in recently.

Late entries: DEMOs thinktank blog , and Boris Johnson's commentators , L'Ombre d'Olivier, Mike Cunningham, N379P, Leighton Cooke and erm, David Icke. Well, there's a mixed bag for you. It should be great fun next week. As well as making a serious point , of course...

What are we all protesting about, by the way, democracy-fans? Let us know in the comments...

UPDATE: Today, Friday 24th is THE LAST DAY to get your form into the police. Off you go...


Blogger fifipoo07 said...

I'll link- sounds fricking awesome. Just imagine we could protest about anything- even the dodgy ties news readers and all politicians wear....brilliant.

August 21, 2006 10:12 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'll be there

August 21, 2006 11:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel's link to the Form is blocked behind an email password, but you can download Form 3175A from Mark Thomas's website (.doc)

See also our analysis of Metropolitan Police Form 3175A: Application for Demonstration Within The Serious Organised Crime & Police Act Designated Area

Or you can fill one in at Charing Cross Police Station, unless they run out of them 8-)

N.B. the legislation only says "in writing", and does not specify that this Form has to be used.

In the words of the Act:

(4) The notice must state-
(a) the date and time when the demonstration is to start,
(b) the place where it is to be carried on,
(c) how long it is to last,
(d) whether it is to be carried on by a person by himself or not,
(e) the name and address of the person giving the notice.

It would therefore seem that Organisation name, Reason for event, the Advance publicity, Petition, Number of stewards, or the organiser making himself available for meetings with the police etc. are not required, according to the letter of this law.

August 22, 2006 2:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,
Superb Idea!

I've put up a post on it over at The Nether-World (I'm afraid I cheekily pasted what you wrote as I couldn't reword it any better... sorry about that).

I intend to be there but I've got to leg it off pretty quickly to get to another event where I said I'd help out on the door (it's all in the post). If you are free and like funky music, shisha pipes and belly-dancing in the appropriate environment then please do come along.

Hope to see you at one or both events.


August 22, 2006 4:45 am  
Blogger The Pedant-General said...


this is simply top notch.

That said, I can't be there either. But you can rest assured that I feel EXTREMELY strongly about the splitting of infinitives.

The Government really ought to take action on this important topic.

Toodle Pip!

August 22, 2006 4:24 pm  
Blogger Gamba said...

I think it is a brilliant idea, and I have duly linked to you.

August 22, 2006 5:33 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Not sure I did this right earlier... have linked your post to my blog. Can't be there myself, but it sounds an interesting idea. Good luck.

August 22, 2006 5:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,

We are in Crete and, sadly, cannot be with you physically to lend our support. Please understand that we are with you - in spirit - 100%.

God bless you

Eddie and Alan

August 22, 2006 9:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most worthy of all causes. I'll be there. England expects......

August 23, 2006 1:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi rachel,

i know that this may be off-topic but i am watching on the american network HBO a documentary called "when the levees failed" it is a scathing look at how the bush administration totally bungled its responsibilities in the wake of hurricane katrina. its a very telling story-if it makes it to british tv by all means watch it.

with september 11 less than 3 weeks away- i cant believe that 5 years has passed- theres more shows on the history channel,a nd e channel among other american cable channels about the events leading up to and what occured that day-again i dont know which u.s. channels you get besides cnn but im sure that youll want to watch it.

on the more pleasant side,how about posting a pic or two from your trip to turkey?

seth :)

August 23, 2006 3:08 am  
Blogger The Pedant-General said...


Wow! Thanks for the link - I have done some mailing around as well.

In the meantime, I have posted some thoughts for possible demonstration topics Infinitives Unsplit.

Good luck - remember to take lots of photos. I'm looking forward to lots of generally excellent British eccentricity...


August 23, 2006 9:46 am  
Blogger Guido Fawkes said...

Tell me more about the pole-dancing.

August 23, 2006 10:03 am  
Blogger Mother Sharon Damnable said...

Great idea!

Have linked to your article.

Democracy? What Democracy! Don't get me started!

See you there!

August 23, 2006 11:55 am  
Blogger Gavin Whenman said...

The Mark Thomas site linked to says this was in June?

August 23, 2006 12:48 pm  
Blogger kethry said...

Its not just free speech that the government has in its sights.. its got the internet and plans to curtail what you view on the net via the consultation on violent pornography.

i know.. with all the really serious threat to liberties the government is aiming at today you'd think pornography would be one of the lesser evils - but its got a wider scope than it first appears. For example, they're looking at putting those who possess violent pornography (and this could be something like a woman who's hands are artistically bound) on the same footing as those who possess child porn, with similar sentences - placing them on the sex offenders register, for example. The net effect of that would be a diluting of the sex offender's register, to the point where someone who is on it, may be on it for something relatively minor.. or something very very bad.

if you're interested in reading more about this, then a group has been founded to fight against these proposals (its at the consultation into law stage) then feel free to read here:



August 23, 2006 2:52 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks for all the links and comments. Will update new links tonight.

Fear not Gavin, it is 31st August and applications to go in tomorow - the demos have been going on for a few months ( wish I'd known before - only just heard this week hence post) but it's the big one this time so let's all continue to get the message out...



August 23, 2006 2:53 pm  
Blogger fifipoo07 said...

Sorry, it's taken me a while to do it but will link to it tonight. Thanx for the link to me in your post. Pippa

August 23, 2006 4:25 pm  
Blogger dirty dingus said...

Unfortunately I won't be there but I'm supporting it at
>my blog
and suggesting that it merge with another test of freedom

August 23, 2006 5:06 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'll be protesting against ID cards

August 23, 2006 6:06 pm  
Blogger fifipoo07 said...

Hey, just did the link, hopefully some of my readers will come over here and offer their ideas. Pippa

August 23, 2006 10:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cant make it to Charring Cross but sent an application in by email.

Im not sure of the legality so far, but did get a response saying it would be passed on to the correct peeps.

"Thankyou for your email which has been forwarded to the Public Order Dept re your request."

August 23, 2006 11:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel
The Nether-World seems to have fallen off the internet for some inexplicable reason, so I've made a Mark 2 Nether-World on Wordpress. I've reposted All the stuff about tomorrow over there. How long I stay on Wordpress depends upon how quick Blogger support is in sorting the problem...not very as far as I can tell. Anyway just thought I'd mention it.

Still pondering what to protest about... I mean we really are spoiled for choice. But I'll see you tomorrow.


August 24, 2006 12:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marvellous. I shall be there, protesting the increasing amount of intrusive advertising in public spaces... in case anyone's interested.

August 24, 2006 12:52 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Right, well unfortunately I shall have to get down there a bit earlier than planned to give in my form as I am going to a music awards ceremony tonight and need time to be laced into a corset and apply lashings of eyeliner - and be at the door for 6pm, so I will see an early birds down there at 4pm-ish. See you all next week.

Me: Give us a 7/7 Inquiry, need to be consistent with these things.

August 24, 2006 2:17 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Guido, pole dancing stuff can be found if you look in 'This blog's best bits' under 'pole dancing slatterns and media tarts; , also published in the Sunday Times News review. If you want lessons, let me know, the next class for boys will be in September and you will need to wear shorts.

August 24, 2006 2:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be protesting for the need for an inquiry into the 7/7 bombings....

August 24, 2006 7:46 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm registered.

Let's see what happens...

August 24, 2006 11:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech and expression is one hallmark of a democratic country. I'm all for it. But I'm also for limitations.

August 25, 2006 4:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was there last night, and it wass a delightful atmosphere. The coppers were even enjoying themselves seeing what protests people were signing up to make (I shall be calling for the immediate exiling of Robbie williams).

One person took the route suggested by peaceful demonstrator's post and baked a (delicious) cake, icing it with the relevant details. The coppers then transcribed the cake (how I wish they'd tried to photocopy it) before having a cheeky slice (offered by the lady who'd baked it)

August 25, 2006 11:12 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I went and it was a lot of fun, great atmosphere (for a police station, anyway). I'm going to be protesting against the surveillance state.

I had a very interesting chat with Mark Thomas. More on that later.

August 25, 2006 6:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent idea. Neocon Labour seeks to subvert democracy by controlling the individual's ability to act. Sanctions - and the power they protect - can best be undermined by enforcing their use, especially when the legal enforcement is more costly - especially in terms of ridicule - to the enforcer than the intended subject.

I live too far away to attend etc, but given more warning I would be happy to send a letter about an intended demonstration to protest against the inclusion of my demonstration under this act called 'Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005' as while my intention is certainly Serious, it is not organised and not criminal.

I look forward to a well reported result

Owen of Chelmsford

August 25, 2006 6:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom of Speech is ending worldwide. In Germany, Ernst Zundel sits in a prison for Free Speech. In the US, protestors are caged away from events and books like "America Deceived" are banned from Amazon (and Wikipedia). In the UK, they adopted the US 'no-protest' rules. We must all attend this event.
Final link (before Google Books caves to the gestapo):
America Deceived - Book

August 29, 2006 11:28 am  
Blogger Mike Grenville said...

My photos from the form filling on 24th August are here:

My approval from the police hasn't arrived in the post so I assume there will be a copper with a clipboard and a list.

August 31, 2006 12:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Rachel,
This is pamela icke... can you tell me when the next gathering is? The gathering of 6,000 or more?
Many thanks and hats off to ya darlin'!
And all those who have opened their eyes to 'see'.
Much Love to all, pamela

September 01, 2006 11:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom of Speech is one of the
Best Guardians against Tyranny

The Tyrannical Law which restricts protests near the
Houses of Parliament is
completely unacceptable and
must be Immediately Repealed.

This Law needs to be challenged
and perhaps Demonstrations outside MPS Surgeries would help

September 18, 2006 2:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom of Speech is one of the
Best Guardians against Tyranny

The Tyrannical Law which restricts protests near the
Houses of Parliament is
completely unacceptable and
must be Immediately Repealed.

This Law needs to be challenged
and perhaps Demonstrations outside MPS Surgeries would help

September 18, 2006 2:02 pm  

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