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Britain has thrown away in just two months rights that it took one and half millennia to acquire, a protester claimed at the latest, biggest anti-lockdown rally in London.
Our rights have been now been compromised. We need to remember that our rights are ordained from above the government, not below it. It took 1,500 years on this island for us to realise that. And we've given it all away in just two months.
You can quibble about the timescale, but it would be hard to refute the thrust of his argument. The anti-coronavirus measures introduced by Boris Johnson's government - the latest include 10pm curfews for pubs, bans on groups of more than six people - represent the biggest encroachment on personal freedom since the Second World War and perhaps since the mid 17th-century era of Cromwell's Commonwealth when the Puritans banned Christmas.
Several of those I met at the rally in Trafalgar Square told that they had been radicalised by the government's draconian policies.
‘I'm not political. I'm not a political man but we've got to make a stand.'
‘I'm 22. What I've been in the last few months, we've turned into a nation I've never seen before. It's not a place I want to bring my kids up in. I'm thinking how can I get out of this place.'
The mainstream media commonly likes to portray this anti-lockdown rallies as the preserve of tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists obsessed with 5G, anti-vax and the evils of Bill Gates. But the crowd I saw was much broader than that - a range of all ages, races and classes united in disgust what they considered to be their government's illiberal measures against an exaggerated problem.
Several were convinced that the coronavirus crisis was essentially political rather than medical.
One young woman called Holly said:
This whole thing has been geared toward getting Donald Trump out of the election race. They don't want him to win. Once Donald Trump does win this whole thing will be over.
Another, a US expatriate called Gina, said:
I think [the Coronavirus scare] is going to die off at the election when Trump wins. It has been a scamdemic and we've all done everything we could when it first broke out, after all the misinformation from the WHO and the CDC came out. More people have been killed during the lockdown: there has been a rise in suicides, alcoholism, domestic abuse. Children need to be in school with their friends. Everyone needs to get back to normal - not the ‘new normal'.
The crowd was peaceful throughout - and certainly didn't deserve or provoke the assault by two lines of aggressive police which converged on them suddenly and without warning. Officially, these tactics were justified on the grounds that the demonstration was in breach of its licence because it had failed to observe ‘social distancing' regulations. But that certainly doesn't excuse the heavy-handed approach, nor the failure to give the crowd a dispersal warning first.
Yet again, protesters against Boris Johnson's authoritarianism have been treated much more harshly than either Black Lives Matter or Extinction Rebellion. Britain's police are no longer dispensing equal justice without fear or favour: they have become politicised.
But the police are only as good as their senior officers, who in turn follow the directives from their controllers above. The Metropolitan Police are answerable to the hard left Mayor of London Sadiq Khan; but ultimately, to Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Police charging harmless members of the public at a peaceful rally is hardly a good look for Britain under Boris Johnson's Conservative government.