how Maya Evans and Milan Rai were arrested for reading out the names of Iraq war victims opposite the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall (though if they had given the right notification they would not have been),
and justly comments
Of course having to ask permission from the police before you speak is not the same as living in a police state. What on earth would give anyone that idea?
As I recall, the Soviet Constitution guaranteed the right to hold demonstrations (Article 125 of Stalin’s constitution, though I think the numbering changed in later versions).
When, however, refusniks tried to quote this constitutional right on finding themselves on trial for hooliganism as a result of participating in demonstrations against the government’s refusal to grant exit visas, the Moscow city courts would patiently explain to them that the problem was they hadn’t obtained the necessary permits for their demonstration.
The fact that such permits are, for the present, considerably easier to obtain in London than were they in Moscow 30 years ago is certainly welcome but to use that as a justification for requiring people to obtain permits in the first place rather misses the point.