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The news police plan to use preemptive arrests should worry us all.

The fall of the Berlin wall, JFK’s assassination, 9/11, Cantona’s flying kick: to these you’ll-always-remember-where-you-were-when-you-heard events, we can now add the death of Margaret Thatcher.

The wry smile that’ll break over my lips in the years to come when I think about it won’t be out of animosity for The Iron Lady, it’ll be because when I found out I was mid-shit in Berlin airport. 

I took off from a country whose top news story was ‘it’s cold’ and landed back in the midst of a shitstorm of headline slinging, as the papers, politicians and commentariat fought to define how history would remember Thatcher. Former Tory MP Louise Mensch led the charge for the Right: her weeklong blitzkrieg of adulation was beyond parody. However, it served to exemplify the shadeless approach that Thatcher employed in her leading style – a leading style built on division and the fostering of enemies.

Let’s be clear about this: Thatcher wasn’t a feminist, she wasn’t a great leader and she didn’t want a meritocracy. She was an elitest who destroyed the unions when they needed reform, destroyed mental health services when they needed reform, and destroyed northern industry when all it needed was support. 

And while the attempts to revise history are unnerving, the most worrying news has been that the police will continue their abhorrent use of ‘preemptive arrests’ in the run up to Thatcher’s funeral. There’s no statute that says police have this power, it’s just something they reckon they can get away with, and the high court supports them.

If police have evidence that people are conspiring to cause a public order offence, that’s a possible crime. But arresting people because they might express an opinion is genuinely scary.Protests should be allowed during her funeral, but protesters must not seek to disrupt proceedings.

While they may be witnessing the burying of a reviled leader, others are burying a family member and a mother.


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Opinion: Thatcher - respect her funeral and respect our right to protest
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