AuthorPang, Jun

The UK is facing a democratic crisis. Whether on the streets, in the courts, at the ballot box, or in Parliament, the government is trying to close off avenues of accountability and clamping down on people's ability to express opposition and dissent. In doing so, it is deploying a divisive rhetoric that pits people against one another in order to mask a fundamentally regressive agenda that will have negative ramifications for all.

The government's announcement that it intends to introduce offshore asylum processing in Rwanda is a paradigmatic example of this. Fundamentally cruel, inherently racist, and wholly unworkable, the scheme had been trailed in the media for weeks, only to be officially announced right after Boris Johnson had officially been given a fixed penalty notice for breaching lockdown rules - making him the first sitting prime minister to be punished for breaking the law. This evasive manoeuvre meant that news of Johnson's second fine was completely buried over the subsequent bank holiday weekend, as the Rwanda deal was rightly condemned by religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, hundreds of civil society groups, and parliamentarians across the political spectrum. All the while, scrutiny of the government's bungled approach to the pandemic, and withdrawal of vital lifelines for those at the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis, has completely fallen by the wayside. To tackle the looming threats head on, the Opposition must be bold in exposing the root causes of our current malaise, not least the government's concerted power grabs and tactics of distraction. More widely, we must all take inspiration from grassroots social movements, connect the dots between the threats that we are collectively facing, and work together to build a positive vision of a society in which we might all live safe and dignified lives.

Closing down avenues of accountability

Perhaps the most powerful weapon in the government's arsenal is exhaustion. For the past six months, the parliamentary calendar has been packed with thousands of pages of legislative proposals and consultations, that have all struggled for time for consideration and debate. Among these is the much-maligned Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which risks shutting down noisy protests and putting more and more people at risk of criminalisation for taking to the streets and making their voices heard. In addition, the Bill contains new surveillance and stop-andsearch powers that will drastically expand the policing of marginalised communities, and provisions that will effectively criminalise the way of life of Gypsy and Traveller communities.

The government has also recently passed the Elections Bill, which introduces photographic voter identification and risks...

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