“They can gather in halls or fields to have their voices heard. They can write opinion pieces on the internet or in newspapers, or even run candidates in elections. They can be heard on radio and TV”
In a spirit of generosity, here’s some free ideas for the protestors, who don’t seem to have any of their own
Let’s get one thing straight. If you commit a crime by invading a public area like St Paul’s Cathedral and stop citizens going about their business, and if you are asked to leave and refuse, any violence is the responsibility of the invaders, not the police. That’s why using direct action a la Greenpeace or marching through the streets blocking the traffic and causing citizens to miss cancer appointments or flights or weddings or even a planned visit to meet your friends in the pub is a violent act because unless the perpetrators cease and desist, physical force is required to stop it.
Also, it’s not exactly a great way to make friends and influence people, if you are making their lives miserable in the process.
Protest should be all about the free expression of opinion. As soon as you use your physical presence to underline your opinion, that becomes violence and should be quickly ended by police action, unless it is channelled into areas like the grass area outside Parliament, or Trafalgar Square on a Sunday (and don’t “march” there. Get the tube).
There’s nothing stopping the protestors outside St Paul’s gathering in halls or fields to have their voices heard. They can write opinion pieces on the internet or in newspapers, or even run candidates in elections. They can be heard on radio and TV, and the BBC is doing its best to force the sophomoric opinions of the demonstrators down our throats. By using the politics of violence, the demonstrators calculate, correctly, that the media will instantly be all over them. That should be nipped in the bud and not be allowed to give them a long-drawn out publicity bonus.
They cannot be allowed to flout the law and make the rest of us suffer. That’s why listening to the reaction of the Church of England to the St Paul’s protestors was so sickening. Talk about a parody of the Rev J.C.Flannel from Private Eye. The hand-wringing and desperation not to have to say or do anything that might have consequences is pathetic to see. Mind you, I did hear something interesting from a wringing-wet Church of England representative on BBCTV’s NewsNight. He said that if a similar ragbag of protestors appeared on the steps of St Peters in Rome, they would be gone in half an hour, floating away on a wave of water-cannon blasts. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to think was a good idea. I’d guess that 90 per cent of the nation would say “Yes Please” to that suggestion. Why are our leaders too cowardly to act?
As for the opinions expressed by the protestors at St Pauls, it is amazing the incoherence and negativity we hear. They all seem to know what they don’t like, but nobody has any idea about what they want to change, except the lone (to me at least) call for a “Tobin” or Robin Hood tax on banks. That’s a non-starter and monumentally silly too given that it would require a) impossible world-wide agreement and b) would cripple the world’s economy and make sure the recession turned into a global depression.
Ideas for the protestors
Keeping to the British spirit of generosity, let me offer some suggestions for reforming our broken and out of touch political system which the great unwashed outside St Pauls might like to use. Firstly, our Parliamentarians are controlled from the centre by the political parties, making them unresponsive and remote. To change this, why not take on the American system of primary elections. That means power to select candidates would be moved from political headquarters back to the localities. Just look at what the Tea Party has done in America by forcing local Republican parties to field candidates local people want, not those approved by Central Office. If that’s not acceptable, why not push for Proportional Representation, which would allow small parties like UKIP to get some seats in Parliament.
Secondly, insist that government cannot be run by anyone in Parliament. Isn’t it ludicrous that Parliament is charged with calling the government to account, but is controlled by government? If an MP was appointed to government he would have to resign his seat. That would mean the end of the Whip system that is a running sore on our so-called representative democracy. And elect the House of Lords.
That would shake up our system some, would it not? And make sure that our MPs had to listen to their constituents, finally. So, protestors, if you are in it for the long haul, why not take some serious, intelligent and workable reform ideas on board?