Upholding the democratic right to protest

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Democracy works best when people are activists. When passionate people take part in active debate and, yes even protest. The freedom to do so is fundamental to the democratic principle.

So it is to be hoped that the judiciary take a compassionate view when they sit before five Vestas workers at courts in Newport and Southampton today.

The workers face charges arising from their August campaign to save their jobs and the Vestas plant on the Isle of Wight. Their crime — if such it is — being to defend green jobs. The very jobs so glibly quoted as a priority by Gordon Brown in his speech to the Labour Party Conference yesterday (September 29th, 2009).

The decision to close the UK’s only major wind turbine manufacturing plant gives the lie to Brown’s supposed commitment to Green jobs, which is as yet unproven; will it be more then election deep?

To add a further twist of irony, or maybe Mandyspin, the closure came in the same week that ministers committed to making the UK world leaders in renewable energy generation, creating 250,000 new green jobs. Promises easily made are easily broken.

Regardless of the political spin it is vital that the judges recognise the validity of the protest against the Government’s failure to protect jobs in this, and indeed in any sector; anything less than a declaration of the innocence of these workers would be a travesty.