Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Nick Clegg condemns "kettling" of protesters (in 2009)

Last April, the police tactic known as "kettling" was in the news after the G20 protests in London. Around that time, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg took part in the Independent's "Twitterview", in which questions and answers are posted over everyone's favourite microblogging platform.

Here's one exchange:

@Neilglenister What are your thoughts with regards to how the police have handled recent protests? e.g. the G20 protests.

Nick Clegg: Heard first hand from LD MPs at demos, police went OTT. Must now change kettling etc.

One of the Lib-Dem MPs in question was Tom Brake, who wrote a column for the Times in which he attacked the loss of civil liberties in this country:
"Kettling is a tactic that should come under review. At the first sign of difficulty, the police present a wall of riot shields and batons around protesters — the peaceful alongside the problematic — and slowly squeeze them into a tighter space. People are allowed in, but absolutely no one is allowed to leave … It is not surprising that under such conditions an otherwise overwhelmingly relaxed and peaceful crowd can become agitated, then angry, and then violent. The tactic proved misguided and counter-productive. It served to alienate a whole mass of peaceful protesters."

Since then, Nick Clegg has become Deputy Prime Minister and Tom Brake is the Lib-Dems' backbench spokesman on Home Affairs (which includes policing).

This afternoon, the Met police have been using "kettling" against the student protesters on Whitehall. It'll be interesting to hear what Clegg and Brake have to say about kettling now, having seen the police use the tactic against people who were demonstrating AGAINST the Lib-Dems rather than alongside them.

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