TORY plans to introduce legislation which would clamp down on protests south of the Border have been panned by politicians across Scotland.

The UK Government already passed legislation in 2022 in a bid to allow police to have more power to stop disturbance but is planning to go further with a new set of laws known as the Public Order Bill.

It was published last year and is currently in the final stages of debate in parliament with the aim being to broaden the legal definition of “serious disruption”.

The SNP home affairs spokesperson Alison Thewliss said that the protest laws spell out a “depressingly Orwellian future”.

Speaking to The National, she said: “It’s been made clear on countless occasions that this Tory government isn’t one we can trust with the rights and liberties we accept as basic pillars of our democracy.

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“Attacks on Scotland’s parliament, on workers and protesters, power grabs and consistent refusals to accept basic democratic principles have been a cornerstone of Tory rule over Scotland – something we must be able to distance ourselves from.

“With the full powers of independence we can pursue the more open and democratic future we aspire to achieve.”

Alba Party deputy leader Kenny MacAskill echoed those sentiments and said that protest should be part of the “fabric of a functioning democracy”.

He said: “The right to peaceful protest must be an inalienable right in any civilised society. Part of the movement which helped end apartheid was a lively presence at the South African embassy in London.

“This authoritarian Tory government has been relentless in its removal of fundamental rights, from the right to protest to the right to strike.

“The drive towards authoritarianism by the Tories is frighteningly being witnessed at home as well as south of the Border.”

The UK Government has said that the new laws, if passed, would mean police are able to shut down disruptive protests pre-emptively.

The bill already includes the creation of a criminal offence for anyone who seeks to lock themselves onto objects or buildings, and allows courts to restrict the freedom of some protesters to prevent them causing disruption.

Last November, Just Stop Oil protesters climbed the gantries of the M25 while workers also protested against the recent anti-strike bill outside Grant Shapps’ office.

Scots often travel to take part in demonstrations, including last year during the Supreme Court battle on whether Scotland could hold a second independence referendum without Westminster's consent.

The National: Maggie Chapman was among those to slam the latest plans against protestersMaggie Chapman was among those to slam the latest plans against protesters

Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman told The National it was a “deeply concerning” move given it was already “exceptionally authoritarian”.

“This is yet another shameful and anti-democratic step from a cruel and incompetent Tory government that knows the poverty and chaos that it has created and is terrified of being held accountable.

“Instead it is choosing to clamp down on civil liberties, stoke anti-worker and anti-equalities sentiment, and weaponise the state against civilians. We must do everything we can to resist these proposals.”

The move comes hot on the heels of the announcement of new anti-strike legislation, which has been widely criticised.

The Public Order Bill aims to build on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, passed in April 2022, which sparked several large “kill the bill protests”.

Glasgow City Councillor Roza Salih also condemned the plans, describing them as an “attack on democracy”.

She told The National: “Protest is a platform for people to come together and peacefully express themselves and if we don’t have that then what kind of country are we.

“I don’t even how they can think about police stopping people from protesting.”

Also among those to slam the plans was Scottish Trade Union Congress general secretary Roz Foyer, who described the UK Government as an “anti-democratic shambles”.

“They weren’t lying when they said they wanted to ‘take back control’; they just meant for politicians, not people”, she said.

“Not content with destroying our right to strike, they’re seeking to impact our wider civil movement who hold power to account and speak truth to power.

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“This is yet another dangerous move from a dangerous government that should be scrutinised by all those who hold dear our democracy and the right of assembly.”

In a statement on Sunday, Rishi Sunak said: “The right to protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy, but this is not absolute.

“We cannot have protests conducted by a small minority disrupting the lives of the ordinary public.”