Saturday 12 January saw a brilliant number and diversity of protest and campaign slogans displayed in the centre of Aberystwyth.
Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network invited the public, local organisations and political parties to join the nationwide day of response to the Government's consultation paper, “Managing Protest around Parliament”.
The paper proposes “harmonising” the conditions that can be imposed on marches and assemblies.
Harmonisation is widely believed to mean extending to all of England and Wales the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.
Currently, SOCPA is applied around Parliament, military and nuclear sites. Already, SOCPA is used to criminalise peaceful protesters at the Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp.
On Saturday, apart from encouraging members of the public to display their opinions - ranging from “Save Cardigan Bay” (from oil exploration) to “No dogshit, no bullshit” (apparently the output [sic] of a large black poodle) - and to respond to the consultation, we spent three lovely hours talking with people about many other instances of the dwindling rights of citizens.
Afterwards, everyone was invited to watch Mark Thomas's Serious Organised Criminal and participate in the lively discussion that followed.
Conclusion: Let's do away with SOCPA and call for public consultation on “Managing governments and corporations” as this is generally where the problems start!