Conservative manifesto pledges crackdown on protest march ‘extremism’

The Tory party say they will pursue a free trade deal with Israel and back its right to defend itself if elected


Rishi Sunak launched the Conservative manifesto at Silverstone race track on Tuesday (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A Conservative government would strengthen police powers to block marches that pose a risk of “serious disorder” if re-elected next month.

The party’s manifesto, which was released on Tuesday, commits them to pursuing a free trade deal with Israel, funding the Community Security Trust, and preventing public bodies from boycotting Israel. 

The pledges to clamp down on protest marches comes after eight months of demonstrations against Israel during the IDF’s campaign in Gaza.

The Tory manifesto says: "In recent months we have seen shocking increases in protests being used as a cover for extremist disruption and criminality.

"We cannot allow a small and vocal minority to destroy our democratic values...

"We will strengthen police powers to prevent protests or marches that pose a risk of serious disorder, by allowing police to take into account the cumulative impact of protests.”

These will include a ban on face coverings, pyrotechnics and climbing on war memorials.

The government will also “explore ways” for authorities to recover some of the costs of policing “disruptive” protests from the groups that organise them, it adds.

Pro-Palestine marches have also seen activists arrested for displaying Nazi symbols, while some Islamist groups have chanted for “jihad”.

In March, a Metropolitan Police officer was filmed telling a Jewish woman that swastikas displayed at protests must be "taken in context".

The Conservative manifesto states: "We will place a duty on the police and prosecutors to publish regular guidance on the statements, chants or symbols, for example, the swastika or the term ‘jihad’, that in the context of political protest may constitute an offence.”

If reelected, the Conservative Party would also reintroduce legislation to block public bodies, including councils, from imposing their own boycott or divestment campaigns against foreign countries, including Israel.

The BDS bill stalled at the committee stage earlier this year after passing initial votes in the House of Commons and Lords and could not be made law before parliament was disolved for the general election.

In a section on foreign policy, the Conservative manifesto commits the party to pursuing a free trade agreement with Israel.

It adds: "We staunchly stand behind Israel’s right to defend itself and to live with security.

"We will continue to support access to aid for those affected by the conflict.

"We will push for a two-state solution in the Middle East - our long-standing position has been that we will recognise a Palestinian State at a time that is most conducive to the peace process.”

The Labour Party, which will release its manifesto on Thursday, is expected to back Palestine recognition before the end of any peace process, rather than at its culmination.

Abuse or discrimination based on religion is “unacceptable,” the Conservative policy document further declares.

“We will not tolerate antisemitic hatred in any form,” it claims.

The document states that the Conservative party has pledged £54 million of funding for the Community Security Trust over the next four years to protect Jewish institutions, and commits again to building the UK Holocaust Memorial.

The controversial plan, which has been backed by the Board of Deputies but criticised by Jewish peers and some Shoah survivors, would see a memorial and learning centre constructed next to the Houses of Parliament.

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