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Activist arrested after showering glitter on UK opposition leader

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LIVERPOOL: Police in Britain arrested an activist heckler who scattered glitter on Tuesday (Oct 10) on opposition leader Keir Starmer as he began to deliver a keynote speech at his Labour party’s annual conference.

Starmer had just arrived on the event’s main stage in Liverpool, northwest England, to make his much-anticipated address when he was interrupted by the male protester who stormed the platform.

A new civil disobedience group, People Demand Democracy, which is demanding improvements to the UK political system claimed it staged the stunt. It named the activist involved as Yaz Ashmawi.

He shouted “true democracy is citizen-led” and “politics needs an update” as well as other slogans, before scattering glitter over Starmer’s head and shoulders.

Several security officials then surrounded the heckler and removed him.

Merseyside Police said in a statement that a 28-year-old man from Surrey, in southeast England, had been arrested.

“The man was detained by security at the event and handed over to the police who arrested him on suspicion of… assault, breach of the peace and causing public nuisance,” the local police force added.

“He has been taken to a police station where he will be questioned by police.”

Ashmawi is reportedly an activist for the environmental direct action group Extinction Rebellion (XR), but it disclaimed organising the stunt.

“PROTEST OR POWER”?

Starmer appeared largely unfazed, removing his glitter-strewn jacket to deliver his speech after making several quips about the incident.

“If he thinks that bothers me he doesn’t know me,” Starmer told the cheering audience.

“Protest or power? That is why we changed our party, conference,” he added.

Starmer has revived Labour’s standing since replacing leftist Jeremy Corbyn as its leader in 2020, overhauling the party after it suffered its worst election performance in decades in December, 2019.

Corbyn had been a Labour lawmaker for decades but never held a government post during its 13-year period in power from 1997.

The new activist group People Demand Democracy are calling for proportional voting systems to be introduced for general elections in Britain.

The country currently uses the first-past-the-post system, which often sees lawmakers elected with less than 50 per cent of the votes cast in a constituency.

Governments are then formed by the party with a majority of MPs, even though it may have only been backed by less than 40 per cent of the electorate.

People Demand Democracy are also demanding a permanent, legally-binding national “House of Citizens”, selected by a lottery, to play a part in the political process.

“We need a democratic alternative that gives the people of the UK a voice to deal with the major challenges of our time: rampant inequality, an escalating climate crisis, political corruption and on,” the group said in a press release.

“But what do we have instead? A Labour Party offering very little in terms of real change”.

Article was originally published from here

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