In this month’s Edge Note we asked our readers the following: When Rishi Sunak stands on the steps of 10 Downing Street to declare that peace marches need to be “properly policed”, when protesters are arrested for carrying blank placards to protest against the monarchy, when protesters are denied the right to use the “greater interest” in their defence, when making a noise that anybody objects to on a demonstration is included in legislation as an offence, we are on a slippery slope. So is Britain becoming a police state?

This were the replies we received.

Britain has been a police state since the Thatcher years. Thatcher changed the remit of the police from serving the people to serving the government.

Sam

It’s getting close. The issue for me is that fascists tend to view their actions as quite reasonable, and, because the fascists are by and large establishment figures, they get a lot of support from the media (whose reporters are also establishment figures). Disagreement is now regarded as a threat to the state. It’s only a matter of time before the government starts using more extreme sanctions, while the media continue to bleat “it could never happen here” from their safe positions on the sidelines. I really wish that we could dispose of the Second World War myth that we are the good guys. We are a formerly rapacious nation struggling to maintain outdated structures through the loss of the empire that created the wealth that’s increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few.

Steve Holden

Britain is increasingly becoming more authoritarian, and a police state, therefore, is just around the corner. T’was ever thus, with increasingly right-wing politicians trying to keep “the peoples'” voices down. That is The System in action!!

John B-G

Not quite yet but very very close to becoming one.

Norman Thompson

Yes. But Tory PMs have always lied about what they want to do, and the rhetoric used on becoming PM.

Tarlochan Kaliroy

It would appear that in the case of Free Palestine marches they are being “properly policed”. Gideon Falter was prevented from crossing a road of marchers, thus allowing the protest march to pass off without further incident. But, if we take the definition of a police state as being “a country in which the Government uses the police to severely limit peoples’ freedom”, then yes we are well on the way to a police state. Lord Sikka said our freedom to protest has gone following the changes to the Public Order Act. Richard Murphy said, “the Act that will now allow police the sole discretion to decide when a demonstration is likely to cause a nuisance or not, and so be permitted or not”. How long before Sunak leans on the Met Police to change their view that a demonstration will cause a nuisance?

Steve Priestley

We are teetering on the brink. All that you have written and the rhetoric from government encouraging police action against demonstrators is increasing the likelihood of imposing a police state. We are currently living with the most authoritarian governments in my lifetime, and the police are its army to impose draconian measures or laws they devise on the hoof.

Ann Marcial

Yes. With the continuing application of increasingly draconian limits being justified by spurious conflated “reasons”, it’s clear that the right to protest is being eroded. Coupled with the calculated and cynical disengagement of the electorate, protest in itself is being weaponised against the democratic need. We are one of the most surveilled populations on Earth. How long will it take for the UK to follow the US in openly allowing every aspect of our increasingly online lives to be watched by the state?

Andrew Mackenzie

It’s lurching towards being a fascist state with the police as a key instrument.

Lindsay Baker

Definitely heading that way

Gabriel Peachey

Not yet, but the Zionists are pushing for them to have more freedoms than the rest of the population.

R Marchant

If such measures are not challenged by enough people, Britain will become a state with elections but not rights for ordinary folk (the rights of the rich will always be protected). With Labour shadowing the Tories on policy, we are well on the way.

Shiraz Hussain

This entirely depends on the police interpretation and use of these laws which have been made by a far right government. At present they do appear to be using these powers in moderation. This could, however, quickly change if any demonstration becomes violent or unruly due to opposing demonstrations or agent provocateurs. I think these additional powers are unnecessary and could lead to a stifling of peaceful protest (which past and present UK governments tend to ignore anyway) and the poor vetting procedures in police recruitment result in incidents with particular policemen using these powers in a vindictive or over zealous manner, resulting in escalation of protest into riot.  So the slippery slide into a police state is at the top of the piste and could launch over any incident which becomes out of hand due to poor behaviour by the crowd of protesters or the police.

David Stirrup

I believe the British government is moving towards fascism, and if this is not halted, Britain will become a fascist state. However, I would not call it a police state, since it is the current government and official opposition party who are to blame. Not the police, who have, I believe, been doing their job remarkably well under the circumstances.

Mary Taylor

Fascism at its worst. How they tainted Jeremy Corbyn in the name of being antisemitic was, and is, a tasteless thing too, ending up with Corbyn possibly becoming an independent in the next election. The press and media in this country tell lies and seek to get rid of all opposition to their dogma, apparently supported by the majority of the country. I feel sorry for every single person who holds these fascist views, including Starmer. May they all be spurned as Zionists and rest in hell. Shame on most of the people supporting them.

Sarah Crozier

Absolutely. The longer Sunak and his masters and cronies are in power, the worse is the prognosis.

Trevor Williams

Yes. The marches are peaceful. The government does not like people standing up against genocide.

Mary Carlin

Yes. Definitely.

Miles Fielding

On the slippery slope.

Rita O Brien

Yes.

David Homer

No.

Julie Harvey

Yes.

Jules Lewis

Yes.

Jim Farrell

Yes

Judy

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