This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2005 at 11:24 am and is filed under The War on Stupid, Tony 'King Blair.


Evening Standard – Exclusion zone to Parliament protests: Political protests are to be curbed in a half-mile “exclusion zone” around Parliament, it emerged today. A map of the zone, drawn up by ministers and slipped out in the Commons, shows that it takes in the whole of Whitehall and the London Eye. Inside the zone, spontaneous demonstrations, even by a lone protester, will be banned. Police will be able to set stringent conditions on those who apply in advance, such as a half-hour time limit and a ban on placards and loudhailers. Anyone who fails to comply will face arrest. Critics denounced the measure as a heavy-handed attack on free speech.

Further: Ministers claimed a ban on demonstrations outside Parliament was needed to allow MPs and peers free access in and out of the building.

Yes. There are no secure underpasses to surrounding buildings, car parks and the Underground. All MPs walk the streets like common men these days

But the Act gave ministers the power to draw up an exclusion zone anywhere up to one kilometre from the Palace of Westminster. The map of the zone reveals Home Secretary Charles Clarke has used his new power to the full extent. The only significant site left out of the zone is Trafalgar Square after ministers accepted that it is a traditional venue for demonstrations.

Well, isn’t that big of them?

Here you go, folks, I drew you a map of a 1km exclusion zone around the Houses of Parliament. This is what democracy looks like:

westminster map

Take a look at the teeny-tiny wedge they’ve so graciously allowed us for protest somewhere near the heart of this country’s ever-dwindling democracy.

Think about what your options are if you wish to stage a major protest over any action by the Home Office, the Foreign Office, the Treasury, the Ministry of Defence, etc. etc. etc.

This exclusion zone covers every major government office. If the 1km limit extends from the outer boundary of the Houses of Parliament (as I expect it does), then the area directly outside the gates of Buckingham Palace is also a no-go area.

Let me repeat the most important bit for you:

But the Act gave ministers the power to draw up an exclusion zone anywhere up to one kilometre from the Palace of Westminster. The map of the zone reveals Home Secretary Charles Clarke has used his new power to the full extent.

To. The. Full. Extent.

Remember that the next time someone speaks reassuringly about ID cards.

UPDATE:

BBC – Protest ban zone ‘goes too far’

Mayor of London Blog – Is St. James Park in the Designated Area for restricting protests around Parliament Square or not?

Telegraph – Commons exclusion zone to ban protesters

UPDATE:

Here’s a revised map following the specifications outlined in The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Area) Order 2005. (Cheers to Anthony for the heads-up.)

westminster map revised

Of course, this would be a lot easier if the Home Office released a sodding copy of the map to the public.

But no. They would prefer we didn’t know too much about it until it’s too late.