This entry was posted on
Wednesday, December 21st, 2005 at
9:13 am and is filed
under The War on Stupid.
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la.
Will we be arrested for singing carols?
BBC – Singers defy Parliament demo ban: Carol singers are to become the latest group to defy a ban on unauthorised protests around Parliament… A Scotland Yard spokeswoman was not able to comment on whether a carol service constituted a demonstration and said a decision about whether to take action would be taken on the day.
Human Rights Act 1998: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others… No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The ‘decision on the day’ would appear to hinge on the carol service being a danger to public safety or morality if it does not qualify as a demonstration* (though media scrutiny may also play a role).
It’s hard to see how we could be endangering public safety or morality if all we are doing is singing Christmas carols.
And that is all we will be doing. There will be no placards, there will be no flyers.
There will only be carol sheets and candles.
We plan to arrive, pass out these carol sheets and candles (accepting any donations people care to give in exchange), sing our selection of Christian and secular verse, and then quietly depart after a short prayer.
The only thing that can turn this into something other than a peaceful affair will be heavy-handed actions by the police.
(* Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 – which appears to have written by an 8-year-old – bans demonstrations within a carefully defined area, but does not define what constitutes a demonstration. Technically, you could be arrested for anything from wearing a ‘Make Poverty History’ bracelet to demonstrating the correct way to use a potato peeler.)
PS – Admittedly, we are open to a legal challenge over public safety if the turn-out is massive (i.e. if there are more people than Parliament Square can safely accommodate) but there is a contingency plan that covers this unlikely event.
UPDATE – The main page for this is currently 2nd in MSN and 5th in Google for ‘carol service’.