Campaigners told to get insurance to hand out leaflets in Woking

The Manifesto Club is supporting members of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, who have been prevented from handing out leaflets in Woking Town Centre. They were told that they must gain prior approval from the council, and submit the leaflets they wish to distribute. They were also told that they must get public liability insurance before distributing leaflets. Both of these requests are based on the council’s Public Realm Usage Policy. Both are also entirely unjustified, and have no legal basis. Members of the group wrote a letter to Woking News, outlining their position (see the letter here). We wrote a letter to…

Birmingham to ban microphones in the city centre

If this PSPO goes though it will be a crime to protest with megaphones in Birmingham city centre. It will also be a crime to play violin, acoustic guitar or flute with amplification. That is, the city centre – including the law courts, police station, and council house – will be an area within which amplification of all kinds is prohibited. The council says it has been ‘inundated’ with complaints about noise: I would like to know how many complaints they have received. What’s more likely is that such measures represent the official view that any spontaneous expressions of life in public…

Poppies – you can’t be for them, or against them

On Armistice day there was the depressingly familiar story of the banning of poppy wearers – most prominently including footballers, but also in a Blackpool shop, and in Derry airport. Yet in another case, two youths were charged with incitement to hatred, for allegedly burning a poppy and posting a video of the event on Facebook. So one cannot be for poppies – and what they represent – or against them. It seems that what is banned is not a particular opinion, but any expression of views at all. The only inoffensive person is one who keeps their opinions to themselves.