Pink Floyd's David Gilmour says 'criminalisation of protest' must be fought

Gilmour argues restrictions on peaceful protest are becoming more widespread under this Government

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Indy Politics

The Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour – whose son Charlie was sentenced to 16 months in prison for violent disorder during student demonstrations in 2010 – has attacked the “criminalisation of protest”.

Speaking after his solo album Rattle That Lock reached number one in the charts, Gilmour said restrictions on peaceful protest were becoming more widespread under this Government.

In 2010, Charlie Gilmour was seen swinging on a Union Jack hanging from the Cenotaph in London and also jumped on to the bonnet of a car carrying Royal protection officers escorting the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who were in another car. He was also accused of kicking a shop window and setting fire to some newspapers near the Supreme Court.

After pleading guilty to violent disorder, he was given a 16-month sentence, serving four months in prison before being released to house arrest.

David Gilmour told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend that the title track of his new album was “about suggesting that people might stand up and be counted against the criminalisation of protest in this country”. 

“It is saying, ‘don’t allow this to become the norm’. I think this Government has stamped down on normal protest in a way that is heinous.”

However, the guitarist said it was “nothing really to do with Charlie’s experience”.

“The whole way of kettling people who have committed no crimes, imprisoning people who have committed the minorest of misdemeanours and using catch-all laws and charges to imprison people is a terrible thing and it’s becoming more widespread under this Government,” he said.

Rattle That Lock” includes the lines: “Whatever it takes to break, gotta do it/ From the burning lake or the eastern gate/ You’ll get through it … Rattle that lock, lose those chains.”

Gilmour is a member of the Liberty Choir, which visits Wandsworth Prison in London to sing for and with inmates. “When they are released, they are welcomed back into a community and enjoy the thrill of singing with a large group of people. I think it’s a really important thing,” he said.

On his current music, he said he hoped it would stand the test of time. “I don’t think there’s any particular difference between what I’m doing now and what I have done in the past with Floyd – it all comes from the same place.”

He admitted he did not follow the current music scene. “For me, it’s my music that I spend almost all my time listening to and working on,” he said. 

But he admitted that the Scissor Sisters’ cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” was “terrific”, even if it was “nothing like our version, of course”.