Following the appalling actions from Sunday evening in Bristol there were a small number of comments made in the House of Commons yesterday. They were all set out in a session on topical questions involving Priti Patel as the Home Secretary. Along with the references to the Bristol attacks there are a few other words that are just as important, however these are the positive words. I have removed the sections that were clearly party political and not repeated every discussion that took place as they went in a range of themes. There are of course elements from Priti Patel that are carrying a great deal of nuanced challenge to many of us, however they have remained in to avoid too many cuts. The whole debate can be obtained from here. So now the opening non political comments from Priti Patel.
I would like to make a statement following the incidents over the weekend, and particularly the anarchic and violent scenes that we saw in Bristol last night. We have been clear that to save lives and fight this pandemic people must not currently hold large gatherings. Too many this weekend selfishly decided that this did not apply to them. We will always give the police the support and protection that they need……The scenes in Bristol yesterday were utterly shameful. We saw criminal thuggery and disorder caused by a minority who put lives at risk. Our exceptional and brave police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public. For them to face criminal violence against themselves while upholding the law is completely unacceptable. My thoughts are with the injured officers and their families. I hope that every single Member of Parliament in this House will join me in condemning the shameful actions of the criminal minority involved.
The next person to speak was David Davis who had introduced the debate
DD: I am sure that everybody will join the Home Secretary in condemning what were evil and shameful acts yesterday—there are no two ways about that…..That being said, many of us, I suspect including her, view the right to demonstrate peacefully as a foundation stone of our democracy. Can she give the House an undertaking that before we get to Report stage we will make sure that the right to demonstrate peacefully is absolutely guaranteed in our law?
PP: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that the right to protest peacefully is in fact a cornerstone of our democracy, and it is one that this Government will always defend….. absolutely protecting the right to protest peacefully in our country.
The next person to speak was Nick Thomas-Symonds who is the Shadow Home Secretary (Labour). This is the entirety of what he said.
First, I would like to pass on the thoughts of those of us on the Labour Benches to police officers and to local residents who were victims of the unacceptable and inexcusable violence we saw in Bristol yesterday. Officers should never face that kind of behaviour as they undertake their work to keep us all safe, and anyone involved in those violent and appalling scenes should face the consequences of their actions.
I would also like to pay tribute, along with the whole House, to the victims of the Westminster Bridge attack four years ago today, and to the memory of PC Keith Palmer, who was tragically killed outside this House protecting all of us and our democracy.
In recent weeks we have heard extraordinarily powerful testimony from women and girls about the level of violence and abuse they continue to face. Now is the time to act decisively to address the appalling behaviour on our streets that causes distress and intimidation. In answer to the shadow Crime and Policing Minister, the Home Secretary spoke about a strategy, which of course we all contribute to, to recommend legislation, but the need for action is urgent. So will she work with me to introduce a specific law on street harassment and tougher sentences for stalking?
Sadly the first half of the response from Priti Patel was simply a criticism of Labour and an attempt to blame them for the delay on the VAWG issues which is very clearly untrue. The second half was
It is important that we listen to people. It is also important that we engage with those affected by violence against women and girls, street harassment and the unacceptable harassment and abuse that takes place against women and girls. We are going to work with everybody involved in this. I do not think that this should become a partisan or party political issue one bit. I would like our work, our strategy and the legislation we bring forward to build upon the work that this Government have led already when it comes to protecting women and girls, whether it is on issues such as stalking protection orders, sexual risk orders, the introduction of Clare’s law or the fact that we have a landmark Domestic Abuse Bill going through Parliament.
The next two comments by Thomas-Symonds and Patel were both Political pokes and do not move us forward. The final person to refer to what happened at the weekend was Yvette Cooper. The second half of her comment does not cause any tension but it does focus on something else and so it is not repeated here.
I join the Home Secretary and shadow Home Secretary in paying tribute to PC Keith Palmer, who lost his life keeping us safe four years ago, and in sending support to the Avon and Somerset officers injured in the unacceptable violence in Bristol yesterday.