BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 3 February, 2003, 10:33 GMT
Question: Could massive demo stop war?
Whether you are worried, angry or confused, there are thousands of questions surrounding the Iraq crisis. The Iraq Questions Panel is trying to give you some answers.

QUESTION
From Ben Smith, Woodbridge
How large do you think the protest planned for 15 February would need to be to make the government think twice about going to war?

ANSWER
From Professor Peter Waddington, expert in protest politics
I can't imagine that the Government would be deflected by a protest of any size. Protest generally is among the least rewarding of political activities. It is a weapon of last resort for powerless interests.

A quarter of a million people protested against the Conservative government's closure of the coal mines in 1992, but the mines were closed.

A quarter of a million people more recently protested against plans to ban hunting with dogs, but the government persists with its plans. Protest is more an act of witness, than an instrument of politics.

If protesters very rarely win, they much more commonly lose. The prospect of disorder is far more of a threat to the anti-war movement than it is to government, for 'soft' opinion is easily alienated by scenes of violence on TV screens.

QUESTION
From Steven Weeks, UK
In the event of a war will it be an offence to protest without giving advance notice to the police? There have been reports that Hyde Park will be closed to the demonstration on 15 Feb. If so, will it be an offence to enter the park? Do the police have any extra powers to stop protests during a war?

ANSWER
From Professor Peter Waddington
Under the Public Order Act 1986 it is an offence to march or process without providing six clear days' notice.

No exception is made for protests in times of war, however my observations of the policing of the previous Gulf War was that the Metropolitan Police were anxious to be seen to act 'reasonably' and frequently came to hastily made arrangements with protesters.

In practice, it is consultation that matters most to the police, rather than adherence to the strict letter of the law.

No notification is required for holding a static demonstration. However, it should be noted that no protests are permitted within the area of central London designated as the 'Sessional Area' that Parliament mandates the police to keep free of obstruction whilst either House is sitting.

Hyde Park is a different matter. It is a private space administered by a government agency accountable directly to a government minister.

While it has a traditional role as a venue for protest, this is not an obligation, but more of a concession that is granted after permission is sought.

The park authorities have long imposed all manner of restrictions upon those who wish to use the park, including a ban on the display of banners, provision of food, and so forth.


Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes