Tory-run Harrow council have dropped all the bogus charges levelled against Socialist Appeal activists in Harrow.
This follows a legal challenge and a political campaign, which raised over £500 to cover our costs.
Our supporters rallied against this attack on our democratic right to spread the political ideas of Marxism – and we won.
Earlier this year, on Saturday 11 February, two comrades from Socialist Appeal in Harrow were handed fines totalling £200 by council enforcement officers. The official ‘offence’ was that of ‘distributing the Socialist Appeal newspaper’ – allegedly in breach of the town’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).
Back in force in Harrow town centre today after reversing the Tory council’s baseless ban.
No stopping the forces of Marxism in Harrow. We only come back more determined! pic.twitter.com/vQTtskqiJg
— Socialist Appeal Harrow (@HarrowSA1) March 25, 2023
This followed previous fines of £200 imposed last summer for the same spurious ‘offence’.
According to the government, PSPOs are intended to be used to prevent ‘anti-social behaviour’. This is defined as activities that have “a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”.
Typically, PSPOs are used to prevent people from making noise, being a nuisance, or trading illegally. Activities for religious, political, or charitable purposes are explicitly exempt.
Yet this didn’t stop Harrow council from outrageously trying to silence us for our political activity.
Our victory proves the spurious nature of the council officers’ actions in harassing and attempting to censor us. This was clearly a political attack, intended to prevent us from spreading our Marxist ideas through our paper, Socialist Appeal.
Although we have won this battle, there are obvious inconsistencies in Harrow Council’s ruling. After confirming that all charges had been dropped, the council stated:
“Please note that should they want to hand out notices in future, they ideally need to get permission from Harrow council and the BID [Business Improvement District] team.”
The council, by dropping charges, have proven they have no right to censor our political ideas and attack our right to free speech.
Nevertheless, the same Tories who run Harrow Council ‘ideally’ require permission to arbitrate on what political ideas can and can’t be spread in their locale. Such hypocrisy is obvious for anyone to see.
Last summer, for example, our fines by Harrow council for the same ‘offence’ were challenged on the same grounds. But without a professional legal team or a public political campaign, our appeal was refused.
What does this mean for other activists in Harrow and elsewhere? What if young protestors mobilise against climate change, the crimes of the Met police, or Tory cuts to our public services, and decide to hand out flyers for such causes?
They too, without a professional legal team or public campaign, would likely be subject to council harassment and fines of hundreds of pounds. This fact shows the need for political leadership and organisation to fight back.
Our victory shows that Socialist Appeal comrades will not be deterred by the Tories and their repression. No one will stop us spreading the ideas of Marxism
To find out why these ideas are being censored, subscribe to Socialist Appeal – and read the paper that Harrow’s Tory council does not want you to read.