THE right to protest against wrongs is at the heart of our democracy.
So, naturally, hard-line Home Secretary Priti Patel wishes to abolish it.
She plans to introduce draconian new laws to outlaw demonstrations that affect places such as newspaper printers, the courts or the Houses of Parliament.
Protests outside nuclear power stations and other “critical infrastructure” will also be banned in legislation giving wide new powers to the police.
Characteristically, she has the brass neck to insist she’s doing it in the name of democracy.
This is the thin end of a very big wedge. Any building, public or private, any business, any place of work could be defined as “critical” by the powers-that-be.
Putting public policy in the hands of the police like this is a step towards making this country look like Hong Kong under the tender mercies of the Chinese Communist Party.
And it is abhorrent on many levels. Such a law would make picketing by strikers at their workplace – already virtually unlawful – illegal.
It would certainly land Extinction Rebellion protesters in jail.
Like many, I find the antics of ER eco-warriors can be a bloody nuisance.
But there is a bigger issue here.
I defend their right to protest, peacefully and without violence, to the hilt against power-crazed Princess Priti.
She (or some humourless, nameless person speaking for her) claims: “This is not about banning protests.”
Who said irony is not dead? That’s precisely what it is about.
Ms Patel’s natural inclination is to lock up anybody who disagrees with her and throw away the key.
She has survived, for now, the scandal over breach of the ministerial code of conduct and bullying in the Home Office, because she is Boris’s pet politician.
But if she gets her way with this attack on our fundamental freedoms, any notion of One Nation government is exposed as a lie.