Tag Archives: protests

Extinction Rebellion isn’t funny or clever

Well, I suppose they might have been that day when they made their protest in the Commons chamber. It was a visible reminder that we are preoccupying ourselves with Brexit when the entire future of our planet is in doubt. And it was quite funny watching MPs trying to maintain their composure and keep their faces straight.

But the recent spate of protests by the climate change campaigners are doing their cause more harm than good. Ok, so they get attention, but what on earth is the point of gluing themselves to trains, for goodness sake?

I thought public transport was a good thing. Obstructing it, potentially making low paid people with not much power in their workplaces late, is neither big nor clever.

And holding up the traffic might grab headlines but it doesn’t do much for air quality in the vicinity.

The powerful message of children walking out of school to tell us to secure their future is so much more persuasive.

And I think Extinction Rebellion went a bit foo far yesterday by attaching themselves to Jeremy Corbyn’s house. 

People’s homes are off limits for this kind of stuff, whether there are politicians or heads of companies. If you want to protest go to their public offices. Nobody’s family should have to feel like they are under siege.

Back in 2012, UK Uncut organised this mass protest of 400 people outside Nick Clegg’s house, a move I criticised at the time.  

The Clegg family was not home – but what if they had been? What about their neighbours? Whatever you might think about Government decisions, politicians’ partners and children should not have had their lives disrupted.

Imagine if they had been home when these 400 people descended? The children are 10, 8 and 3. To a 3 year old, people outside having a go at your daddy, however nice they think they’re being, could be really scary, the stuff of weeks of nightmares.

Now, note that I am not saying that such protests should be illegal, but with rights come responsibilities. UK Uncut have done their cause no good whatsoever this weekend – and that’s a shame because when it comes to some of the welfare reform cuts, as you know, I agree with them.

UK Uncut will have had to have distributed Nick Clegg’s private address to a fairly large number of people, for a start, the 400 there and anyone they tell. How can they guarantee the conduct of every single person who would turn up. It was ok this time, but at some point, if this continues, someone will turn up with malevolent intent.

And that was before an MP was murdered. In the current, febrile climate, when you have emboldened fascists taking to the streets, going to politicians’ homes is not a good look.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 88 Comments

Brexit has (sort of) made me an internationally exhibited artist. Cool, huh?

OK, let me explain.

I blogged recently about the anti-Brexit / pro-European Facebook page I run that had reached 1.4 million people in a month (it’s has since ticked up to 1.5 million). Well, a month or two ago a message came in via the page from a curator at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, in Copenhagen, asking for any anti-Brexit placards we had from the London marches. It was for an exhibition, Europa Endlos, that is now open here in the Danish capital.

Thankfully, in my brief Marie Kondo-inspired brush with decluttering I had spared the various placards that my partner and I had created and accumulated over the course of attending something like half-a-dozen anti-Brexit marches. So, these placards were packed off to Denmark and on Friday,  I visited them in the exhibition! How cool is that? And what better way to mark 29 March 2019 – the day on which we *aren’t* leaving the EU – than to visit one’s own anti-Brexit placards on display as part of an exhibition about European identity?

Seeing them there – smudged, stained and scuffed by being carried for hours – reminded me how fantastic it had been to march with so many other committed pro-Europeans. It made all the efforts to bring together friends, family and work colleagues on the marches so worthwhile. I was touched, actually, that the effort we are all making to fight Brexit is being seen and appreciated by our fellow Europeans.

And what I found refreshing about the exhibition, which marks not only Brexit but May’s elections to the European Parliament, is the way in which it takes those European elections and the issues at stake in them seriously. The exhibition deals with themes like identity, labour, borders, community and migration. When has a European election in the UK ever had this kind of treatment?

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Iran Protests – Ayatolld me not to come…that ain’t the way to have fun



So Iran is back in the news again; there’s always something fun going on there! The country seems to have exploded in protests, something many analysts had previously thought near impossible. These protests are complex and still evolving (having only started December 28th), appearing to be various forms of cathartic action with outpourings of anger over food price increases, strict religious rule and corruption. Somewhat negligently, analysts appear not to have predicted instability in Iran (despite the high/volatile food prices, young population and regional instability).

In 2009 the so-called ‘Green Revolution’ made headlines: a series of large protests in response to what people saw as a fixed election. Whilst Iran is not quite a dictatorship, it is not quite a democracy. People do vote for a President and parliament, however, the religious leadership and Ayatollah tightly vet which candidates are even allowed to run. Furthermore the actual authority of the political leadership is capped, as religious figures control the powerful Revolutionary Guard, therefore dictating nuclear and foreign policy. The main differences, however, between the protests we’re seeing now and those of the Green Revolution is that the former were primarily in Tehran and attended mainly by the middle and upper classes. These protests are largely being driven by lower socio-economic status rural and non-Tehranis. This group has long been seen as the Ayatollah’s base and was assumed to be subservient if not content, and their dissent indicates that we may be about to see something big.

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged | 8 Comments
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