“Serious Disruption” – ‘Tory ‘Doublespeak’

Home Office advert says "we are tackling serious disruption"

Fig. 1 – Orwellian ‘doublespeak’ in Tory Britain

So…the Public Order Bill will now pass into law, giving the police even further powers to prevent meaningful peaceful protests attempting to force government – and corporations – to protect the general public from “serious disruption”, by taking the climate measures needed to cut CO2 emissions.

The Tories are doing this, despite increasing warnings from the UN’s climate scientists that current government policies are making it extremely likely that global heating will exceed 1.5C in the next few decades of this century, thus making it much more likely that global heating will not be kept below 2C. As Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC said: “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action on cutting CO2 emissions.”

IPCC chart showing Net global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fig. 2 – IPCC Warnings of “serious disruption” due to global heating

Yet, instead of taking “ambitious action” to reduce CO2 emissions, the Tories are doing the exact opposite: issuing over 100 new oil & gas licences, and approving a new coalmine in Cumbria. And, on top of that, they’re using the law to stop Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil https://juststopoil.org/ protests, calling on the government not to approve any new fossil fuel projects in the midst of a #ClimateEmergency

Because, as they point out, the Climate and Ecological Crises are already causing “serious disruption” – via floods, heatwaves and wildfires – to people in the UK and across the world. Disruption which is getting worse every year:

Union of Concerned Scientists chart showing effects of human-caused climate change.

Fig. 3 – The “serious disruption” of ‘extreme weather events’

For those who see slow-walking, roadblocks and lock-ons as “serious disruption”, it might be an idea to cut through the Tories’ Orwellian ‘doublespeak’, and instead look at some other really “serious disruption” currently affecting UK citizens. Firstly, there’s allowing private water companies to make £millions in profits, despite dumping increasing amounts of sh*t into our rivers, lakes and seas:

Photoshopped image of Boris Johnson standing in front of a sewage pipe.

Fig. 4 – The “serious disruption” of Tory ‘Brexsh*t’

Then there’s the “serious disruption” caused to our health by the Tories’ deliberate under-staffing of our NHS and under-paying of health workers – all to ensure more taxpayers’ money can be stuffed into the pockets of private healthcare (sick!) companies:

Graphic showing NHS staff shortages as 25k nurses, 7k junior doctors and 50k total clinical staff

Fig. 5 – The Tories’ “serious disruption” of our NHS

And let’s not forget the “serious disruption” being inflicted on millions of UK citizens by the ‘Cost of Living’ Crisis – forcing millions into fuel poverty and dependence on foodbanks:

The People's Assembly "We can't pay" demo poster

Fig. 6 – The “serious disruption” caused by the ‘Cost of Living’ Crisis

However, the Tories aren’t content with ignoring all those “serious disruptions” – they’re also “seriously disrupting” the UK’s remaining democratic rights. As well as acting to prevent effective but peaceful civil resistance against their criminal policies, they intend to take away the right to strike from many hardworking employees.

Even without the new Public Order Bill becoming law, a recent article in The Times pointed out that civic freedoms have been so eroded by this increasingly-authoritarian Tory government that the UK is now “on a par with El Salvador.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/uk-downgraded-report-civic-freedoms-protest-block-2023-mj7c20khf While the latest Civicus Monitor Report: https://monitor.civicus.org/country-rating-changes/uk/ on fundamental freedoms, downgraded the UK to an ‘obstructed’ democracy – the same as the ‘illiberal democracies’ of Hungary and Poland! https://skwawkbox.org/2023/03/18/uk-democracy-downgraded-to-obstructed-in-international-rating-list/

Civicus Global Assessment on protest rights poster

Fig. 7 – The Tories’ “serious disruption” of UK democracy

This erosion of democratic rights in the UK – now made worse by the new Public Order Bill – is what led the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, to call on the British government to reverse legislation that would clamp down on protests by giving police in England and Wales more powers: https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/un-rights-chief-urges-uk-reverse-troubling-public-order-bill-2023-04-27/ https://www.lse.co.uk/news/un-rights-chief-urges-uk-to-reverse-troubling-public-order-bill-x5u0lp392on5zay.html

He joins civil rights groups in the UK who’ve also said it gives police too much power – and even creates a new criminal offence for those who lock themselves to objects or buildings. The UN sees all this as “deeply troubling”, as it imposes restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly that are “neither necessary nor proportionate”. Turk said in a statement that:“I am also concerned that the law appears to target in particular peaceful actions used by those protesting about human rights and environmental issues,” adding that governments should be protecting peaceful protests on such important issues,“not hindering and blocking them.” Turk concluded that the law was incompatible with the UK’s international human rights obligations.

Of course, this is not the first time that a UN representative has called out Tory legislation for breaching human rights. Last year, it was the Tories’ UK Borders Bill that was in the spotlight: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/un-rights-chief-urges-revisions-uk-borders-bill

As history has shown time and time again, authoritarian regimes often begin by victimising minorities – before moving on to wider society. The fear-mongering language used by some senior members of the government over the refugees/ asylum-seekers issue is straight out of the fascist handbook – as Gary Lineker recently pointed out. So no doubt Sunak’s meeting with Italy’s fascist PM went very smoothly.

In fact, it’s not just over refugees that the Tories have been using far-right/fascist concepts in their ‘anti-woke’ ‘Culture Wars’ agenda. Michael Rosen recently pointed out 9 ways in which current government language and policy on a range of issues – including trans rights – are “not dissimilar” to those prevalent in 1930s Germany. Three of the most obvious are:

  • ‘Culture Wars’ (advocated by, among others, the Tories’ Deputy Chair) – “not dissimilar” to the Nazis’ ‘Kulturkrieg’
  • ‘Cultural Marxism’ (a term used by the Home Secretary) – “not dissimilar” from the Nazis’ ‘Kulturbolschewismus’
  • The ‘Rwanda Plan’ for refugees – “not dissimilar” from the Nazis’ ‘Madagaskarplan’ (a 1930s attempt to make all Jewish people in Germany ‘re-locate’ to the African island of Madagascar)

All this is a desperate attempt not to lose the next election – as the Tories know such scapegoating language is particularly popular with far-right/neo-fascist groups. We’re clearly living in dangerous times – with neo-fascist groups exploiting people’s genuine concerns over the ‘Cost of Living’ Crisis in order to build up support. Thus these political trends need to be vigorously opposed – now, before it’s too late. More than ever, we need to come together to oppose all these threats. Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’ was a successful example of what we need to do. However, as well as a broad movement of resistance, we need a large radical left party to ensure that resistance goes in the right direction. More than ever, we really do need to #UniteToSurvive

"The Big One" Unite to Survive poster

Fig. 8 – Unite To Survive the Tories’ “serious disruptions”



Allan Todd is a climate and anti-fascist activist; a member of the Ecosocialist Alliance, Left Unity’s National Council and of the ACR Council; and author of Ecosocialism Not Extinction (Resistance Books), Revolutions 1789-1917 (CUP), Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary (Pen & Sword), and the forthcoming Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary

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