“Unless Tear Gas is made illegal for use in the UK, I support tomorrows protests wholeheartedly”


Tomorrow morning, protestors will take to the street in defiance over the Government’s ongoing plans to reform policing powers. Seen by some as a much-needed boost to our already strained law enforcement, and others as an assault on Democracy – Lord Henry John Temple, Baron Carrickfergus, explores the thin line between the rule of law, and authoritarianism.

Across the Country, the Opposition has been hard at work – in what may well be one of an ever increasingly rare example of them working together – to bring people into the streets in a day of protest against the Government’s planned policing reform. Opposition Leaders have made it clear that they stand against what they are branding ‘a Tear Gas Coalition’, keeping to their rhetoric that the right wing is somehow, always in the wrong. By contrast, the Government is peeling back the letter of the law, and examining the minutiae beneath, by way of offering justification for the reforms,  seemingly unaware that much of the general public has neither the time, nor the inclination, to set about lawyering the laws of the land.

Like it or not, ‘Tear Gas Coalition’ has captured the emotions of the British Public, and tomorrow will be the teller that shows to what extent this has been achieved.

Yet, just how accurate is the statement, and ought conservatives on all sides of the house – who purport to respect Law & Order – reconsider how they plan to vote on the final reading of this bill, in light of the concerns?

It cannot be denied that there are legitimate causes to desire the changes of outdated Acts, however – as has been pointed out by /u/ContrabannedMC (and others) on more than one occasion – not only is tear banned in the practise of war, but also, across the spectrum of police command, widely considered to not be of effective use. Yet, the Government continues onward, like a Bull in a China shop, revelling in their majority (which is only advanced by a poor turnout and lack of unity on the opposition benches) to press ahead, no compromise, and no compassion, being the name of the game.

It is no secret that, when I was in the lower House, I supported the bill, also submitting an amendment to remove the revocation of the tear gas restriction, and I maintain that it takes the correct steps to shore up the powers of the Police in dangerous times. However, one cannot pick and choose when one respects the rule of law.

The international community is clear, using tear gas on protestors is a blurs a very thin line in international law, and this element of the bill must be removed if it is to be passed in good conscience by the Conservatives and Libertarians who consider themselves to be respectful of the rule of law, in and of its entirety.

As such, in what feels uncharacteristic for me to say, until such as a time as the Government removes the revocation of the Tear Gas element of the Bill, and confirms – with legislation to support it – that Tear Gas will be illegal for use on the streets of the United Kingdom, I support tomorrows protests wholeheartedly.

Lord Henry John Temple is a member of the House of Lords, in which he sits as a Loyalist League Peer. He campaigns in Northern Ireland as part of the Democratic Unionist Party, having been a member of the LPUK (in which he was MP for Sussex) and NUP. A conservative commentator, views expressed here are his own.

This column was written for The Daily Telegraph by DUP Baron HenryJohnTemple of Carrickfergus as an opinion editorial. The views expressed are not necessarily representative of those of The Model Telegraph Media Group, its editors or its proprietors.

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