Reminders of the 34 Labour MPs who defied Sir Keir Starmer to vote against the SpyCops Bill have been making the rounds on social media today ahead of a crucial vote on a policing bill that will make its way to the House of Commons next week.
Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Burgon are among the MPs who have committed to voting against the bill which will cover a wide range of areas, from sentencing to digital information, but has a specific section on the policing of protests.
According to Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt “the function of this section is simple: It aims to silence them. It is cancel culture on a statutory footing, directed against the left.”
The former Labour leader said: “The last thing the Police need is more powers at this time”, while Burgon added: “The last 24 hours has again shown why that is totally unacceptable.”
Spy Cops Bill
Last year the two MPs were among 34 other politicians on the Labour benches who defied a whip to abstain on the third reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill, also known as the “spy cops Bill”.
It was claimed by human rights groups that the legislation would allow undercover officers to rape, murder and torture in the name of national security, claims which were disputed by Starmer.
I voted against the #CHISBill because I believe we must stand up for our core values of human rights and civil liberties.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 15, 2020
Thank you to everyone who has been in touch and all those campaigning on these vital issues.#SpyCopsBill https://t.co/HarY5EwnIa
In a Call Keir event held with voters from Glasgow, Sir Keir was challenged on the party’s abstention by student Jarrod Grant.
Mr Grant claimed the Bill “blatantly breaks human rights”, asking why Labour was not taking a “hard stance on what is essentially allowing police and undercover agencies to violate human rights”.
the 34 Labour MPs who defied Keir Starmer to vote against the SpyCops Bill deserve our thanks for their actions last October.— Calum. (@CalumS1991) March 13, 2021
The fact the Labour Party failed to oppose sanctioning police brutality, including the sexual assault of women by undercover police, is disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/AzOQb7bAvD
“No bigger advocate for human rights than me”
The Labour leader said “there is no bigger advocate for human rights” than him, and told Mr Grant that any powers authorised for use by undercover agents would have to comply with the Human Rights Act.
He said: “On the face of this Bill, there is a clear requirement that says nothing can be authorised if it conflicts with or breaches the Human Rights Act.
“If you can’t authorise something that would breach the Human Rights Act, how on earth can you make the argument that you can break human rights under this Bill?
“You’re not allowed to sign an authorisation if what you’re authorising will break the Human Rights Act.
“Under the Human Rights Act, torture is completely prohibited, murder is prohibited, rape is prohibited.
“So this argument that you could sign off torture, murder and rape is just wrong.”