The Guardian | Protest

Pro-Palestinian protesters voice disgust at Sunak ‘extremist’ comments

Day of action takes place at almost 50 Barclays branches across England and Wales including one in central London

Protesters have gathered in London and at almost 50 other locations across England and Wales over Israel’s war in Gaza, a day after Rishi Sunak said democracy was being targeted by extremists.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) singled out Barclays for its day of action, with hundreds of people taking part in a demonstration outside the bank’s Tottenham Court Road branch in the centre of the capital.

Continue reading...

The ‘mob rule’ that Rishi Sunak fears most lies in the ranks of his own party | Andrew Rawnsley

The Tory leader has been flabby about policing extremism on his own side

Conservatives would usually be the first to complain when police officers are diverted from their duties tackling crime and maintaining order to participate in a publicity stunt. Yet it was Rishi Sunak who last week summoned police chiefs to Downing Street for no better reason than to provide him with an audience of blue uniforms to hear his unevidenced claim that there is a “growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule” in Britain. A consensus among whom? The hosts of GB News? The most rabidly rightwing tabloid ranters? The leadership of the Reform party?

The police chiefs themselves have been strikingly reluctant to endorse Mr Sunak’s contention that Britain is descending into “mob rule”. This sounds like the kind of thing a rent-a-gob reactionary backbencher might spit out in the hope of being quoted by the Daily Mail. You don’t expect to hear that kind of nonsense coming out of the mouth of the prime minister. Not least because it wouldn’t normally be considered either clever or responsible politics for the leader of the country to suggest that it was plunging into violent anarchy on his watch. Unless, that is, the leader was aiming to do a Donald Trump by seeking to gain advantage through fomenting fear, increasing division and toxifying the atmosphere to justify trampling on democratic norms.

Continue reading...

Police aggression towards Gaza march observers ‘on the rise’ in UK as woman says officers knocked her over

Legal adviser to pro-Palestinian protesters was taken to hospital by passersby after the incident on Westminster Bridge in London

A 71-year-old legal observer has accused a group of police officers of deliberately knocking her over and leaving her bloodied and unconscious on the ground during a Gaza ceasefire protest in London.

Lesley Wertheimer – who was wearing a hi-vis bib with “legal observer” printed on the back – crashed face down into the road when a phalanx of about 30 police officers ran towards Westminster Bridge during the first pro-Palestine demonstration of 2024.

Continue reading...

Peta protesters disrupt Victoria Beckham’s Paris fashion week show – video

Victoria Beckham’s show at Paris fashion week was interrupted by protesters from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), who invaded the runway to protest against her use of animal products. Protesters wore white T-shirts that read: 'Turn your back on animal skins' and 'Animals aren’t fabric'. They walked alongside models on the catwalk, holding up placards that read: 'Viva vegan leather'. The European president of the group said on Friday: 'No garment or accessory is worth violently slaughtering and skinning a sensitive and intelligent animal. We are urging Victoria Beckham to turn instead to the ethical and eco-friendly innovations available today, such as high-end leather made from apples, grapes, pineapples, mushrooms and more.'

Continue reading...

Pro-Palestine marches to continue after Sunak ‘extremists’ speech

Organiser suggests PM consider own MPs’ behaviour after speech about rise in ‘extremist disruption’

Pro-Palestine protests are to continue across the UK on Saturday after Rishi Sunak’s warning that democracy was being targeted by “extremists”.

In an address to the nation on Friday, the prime minister spoke about “forces here at home trying to tear us apart”, in the aftermath of the 7 October attacks by Hamas against Israel.

Continue reading...

Peta protesters disrupt Victoria Beckham’s Paris fashion week show

Activists protest against fashion designer’s use of leather, urging her to use vegan alternatives

Victoria Beckham’s show at Paris fashion week was interrupted by protesters from the animal rights group Peta, who invaded the runway to protest against her use of animal products.

Protesters wore white T-shirts that read “turn your back on animal skins” and “animals aren’t fabric”. They walked alongside models on the catwalk, holding up placards that read: “Viva vegan leather”.

Continue reading...

Rish! purposefully grips his lectern – but shows he has no grip of the country

PM spends 10 minutes sharing his innermost fears with the nation without offering any solutions

Nothing shouts “Don’t panic! Don’t panic” more than a hastily arranged speech from the prime minister outside No 10 at 5.45pm on a Friday. Still, on the plus side, those who chose to carry on watching Pointless on BBC One won’t have missed a thing. It would have been hard to tell the two apart.

Rishi Sunak is the politician’s anti-politician. If he ever came close to a real politician, he might dissolve on contact. Just as well there are so few of them in his cabinet. You could almost call it a talent – the unerring ability to do the wrong thing. To strike the wrong tone. To misjudge the situation. Every time you think things couldn’t get any worse, Rish! appears to say: “Hold my Coke.”

Continue reading...

Extremists trying to tear us apart, says Rishi Sunak in impromptu No 10 speech

PM condemns ‘shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality’ in wake of Gaza war, in sometimes rambling address

Rishi Sunak has claimed extremist groups in the UK are “trying to tear us apart”, in a hastily arranged Downing Street statement that came hours after George Galloway won a byelection in Rochdale.

Standing outside Downing Street late on Friday, the prime minister condemned what he called “a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality” after the 7 October massacre by Hamas and the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Continue reading...

‘Stop insuring fossil fuel’: activists target London insurers in week of action

Marches, protests and sabotage attacks as City at forefront of global campaign against industry

Traffic petered out on Gracechurch Street, in the heart of London’s financial district, as hundreds marched down the road, in step with samba drummers beating a military tattoo. “Climate activists for a free Palestine,” said the banner that led them.

Their target was No 20, an office housing the UK headquarters of Axa insurance group, which, as well as being the world’s sixth biggest underwriter of fossil fuel projects, has been singled out as a facilitator of Israel’s illegal settlements.

Continue reading...

Tories accused of hypocrisy for supporting farmers’ protests

Campaigners and human rights experts point to crackdown on climate and Gaza protests

The Conservatives have been accused by human rights experts of hypocrisy after cracking down on climate and Gaza protests while celebrating and endorsing farmers’ protests in Wales.

Rishi Sunak joined a protest of farmers in Wales last Friday, after they had obstructed a road while campaigning against the Labour government’s new farming subsidies scheme. But this week he vowed to crack down on protests, referring to them as “mob rule”. On Wednesday, the Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew Davies, along with many of his colleagues greeted and posed for photographs with farmers who formed a large group outside the Senedd and blocked a main road with tractors.

Continue reading...

‘Two worlds colliding’: Berlin transport workers and climate activists unite over rights

Two groups are striking for better working conditions and investment in Germany’s underfunded public transport

At first sight, the gathering in an office complex in east Berlin resembles a self-help group. But the public transport workers and climate protesters sitting in a semi-circle introducing themselves have been thrown together, they say, to fight for a common cause.

“Hello, my name is Erdogan. I’m a bus driver in the northern zone of Berlin and have been in the job for 32 years. I’m glad someone is finally taking our profession seriously,” says one.

Continue reading...

Iranians expected to shun first election since death of Mahsa Amini

Turnout of 38.5% or less predicted despite moves to make voting easier and allow more candidates

A majority of Iran’s angry and disillusioned electorate are predicted to stay away from parliamentary elections on Friday, viewing the process as a masquerade of democracy intended to give legitimacy to a regime that has failed to deliver on living standards, the environment and personal freedom.

In repeated speeches, the ageing supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has urged those planning to boycott the vote that it is their patriotic and Islamic duty to elect a new four-year term parliament – the 12th since the 1979 revolution – and an 88-seat “assembly of experts” that will choose his successor in the event of him dying during its eight-year term of office.

Continue reading...

Tories accused of using ‘mob rule’ claims to justify restricting protests

Labour among those criticising Sunak, Braverman and others for exaggerating threats to democracy from peaceful gatherings

The Conservatives have been accused of exaggerated rhetoric to justify a crackdown on protest rights, amid a pushback by civil liberties groups, which accused Rishi Sunak of exaggerating the threat of “mob rule”.

MPs have recently shared details of their own experiences of facing death threats and abuse, and a £31m package to improve their safety has been unveiled by a Home Office minister, who described pro-Palestinian protesters as “thugs”.

Continue reading...

For ‘mob rule’, Rishi Sunak, look no further than your cabinet | Brief letters

Chaos at the top | A Breathtaking reminder | Ending sentences with prepositions | Getting hold of British Gas

Rishi Sunak suggests “mob rule is replacing democratic rule” (Report, 28 February). It’s refreshing for a prime minister to be so critical of his own government, but surely he is being unfair to mobs? Any self-respecting mob has more organisation than the present cabinet.
Alan Gray
Brighton, East Sussex

• I have contacted ITV to urge it to rebroadcast the docudrama Breathtaking (TV review, 19 February) during the upcoming general election campaign. This devastating reminder should be at the forefront of minds when voting. We must never forget what they all did – the good, the bad and the corrupt.
Clive Needle
Rowhedge, Essex

Continue reading...

Welcome to topsy-turvy Britain, where it’s opponents of Israel’s war who are the extremist ‘mob’ | Owen Jones

Apologists for the mass slaughter of Palestinians are held up as mainstream, respectable moderates. Meanwhile, the destruction of Gaza goes on

A new consensus has emerged in British politics: peaceful protesters are dangerous, hateful extremists, but apologists for the mass slaughter of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians are mainstream, respectable moderates. From his prime ministerial bully pulpit, Rishi Sunak declares there is a “growing consensus” that “mob rule is replacing democratic rule”. The world has been turned upside down, and you are entitled to ask why.

How this all unfolded is instructive. Last week, the Scottish National party used one of its three annual opposition days to table a motion demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Labour was in a bind: under pressure from voters who are opposed to Israel’s brutal war, a huge parliamentary rebellion beckoned, with shadow ministers prepared to resign.

Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist

Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.

Continue reading...

Rishi Sunak accused of ‘hysterical nonsense’ after claiming ‘mob rule is replacing democratic rule’ – UK politics live

Campaigners and MPs have dismissed the prime minister’s claim as hyperbolic, alarmist and illiberal

Polls have opened in the Rochdale byelection after a chaotic contest dominated by the war in Gaza, Josh Halliday reports.

A total of 128,786 people were waiting for an initial decision on an asylum application in the UK at the end of December 2023, down 20% from 160,919 at the end of December 2022, PA Media reports. PA says:

According to new figures from the Home Office, the total is also down 27% from the 175,457 people waiting for a decision at the end of June 2023, which was the highest figure since current records began in 2010.

The number of people waiting more than six months for an initial decision stood at 83,254 at the end of December, down 24% year-on-year from 109,641, and also 41% down from the record 139,961 at the end of June 2023.

Continue reading...

Sunak demands ban on protests at MPs’ homes and crackdown on ‘mob rule’

Ministers and senior police sign ‘democratic policing protocol’ to control protests outside parliament, town halls and parties’ offices

Rishi Sunak is seeking to halt demonstrations outside MPs’ homes after telling senior police officers that the UK is descending into “mob rule”.

In comments that have concerned civil liberties groups, the prime minister also demanded a crackdown on protests outside parliament, political parties’ offices and town halls that may prevent use of a venue or “cause alarm harassment or distress”.

Continue reading...

Peaceful protesters are not a threat to democracy, a corrupt Westminster is | Letters

Readers respond to an article by Stella Creasy about the threats MPs face, and the presence of protesters outside their homes and offices

Stella Creasy laments the risk to democracy of MPs being “harassed and intimidated” by protesters (Death and rape threats, bricks through windows: MPs must be able to serve without living in fear, 22 February). She refers to violent threats, bricks through windows and the murders of Jo Cox and David Amess, before arguing that peaceful protests at MPs’ offices and homes – by Gaza ceasefire protesters and Just Stop Oil supporters – are also “crossing a line”. We can all understand the desire to keep our families safe, just as those in Gaza fear the threats from bombs and starvation, and those protesting for government responsibility on the climate crisis fear the risks from floods, food shortages and societal breakdown. But to compare nonviolent protesters outside MPs’ homes to actual and threatened violence is disrespectful to democracy.

As Creasy rightly notes, this government has enacted the most severe repression of protest rights in generations, with little opposition from Labour. Indeed, Keir Starmer has said that he will not support efforts to repeal the most draconian anti-protest laws despite concern from human rights experts. Now, even marching on roads near government buildings can result in potential imprisonment, as most traditional forms of protest have been criminalised. What, then, would Creasy suggest we do to make our voices heard? Climate chaos is advancing and taxpayer money continues to fund fossil fuel expansion at home and military genocide abroad, despite overwhelming opposition by the public. Inaction is not an option.

Continue reading...