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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Village idiots

I rather like having some protestors opposite Parliament. For many years, the pavement of Parliament Square opposite the House of Commons has seen continuous protest, as shown below. Now, I have to say that every time I come round the corner and see a banner calling for the arrest of the Foreign Secretary (or whatever) it gladdens my heart. I think there is something very British, and very special, about allowing people to demonstrate right outside the Mother of Parliaments. It's about a commitment to free speech and the right to protest.


It's not a big area and it tends to get monopolised, which is wrong. It really should be like the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square, so that different groups of protestors get to use it for a week at a time, because otherwise you end up seeing the same protesters over and over again. Despite the picture above, they're not all nutters, obviously. Some of them have very sound points of view:


But in recent times the whole of the square has been taken over by a collection of tents and banners that calls itself (hilariously) "Democracy Village". Parliament Square belongs to all of us and is a major tourist attraction. I really object to it being turned into a revolting camp site and was really upset that the Mayor failed to evict them today.

Democracy Village has housed an array of protesters, vagrants and helpers voicing concerns over Afghanistan, climate change, the Middle East and anti capitalism. They have called today's eviction an affront to democracy.


Frankly, I object to them even calling it "Democracy Village" since virtually none of the "protestors" care less about democracy here, in Afghanistan or anywhere else and none of them were elected to represent anyone anyway. When I walked past it last week, there were banners supporting a wide variety of bonkers causes -- everything from "9/11 truth" to "boycott Israel" to "stop the Freemasons from secretly controlling the Home Secretary" -- as well as one or two causes (such as "dad's rights" and so forth) that are not really to do with democracy.

Real democracy, pure, radical democracy is (according to [people supporting the protestors]) about being elected by no-one, representing no-one. What arrogance must motivate you to believe that you have the right to monopolise an area to which other citizens should have free access; to protest, yes, but to enjoy also, to take a stroll in, to have a quiet sit down.

[From ‘Democracy Village’ my a**e! | And another thing...]

But let's suppose that we support their right to free assembly (as I do) and their right to hold transparently ludicrous opinions (as I do). I suggest that we set aside a brownfield site somewhere in, let's say, Middlesborough (where i imagine there are quite a few of them) and make it a Democracy Village that we can be proud of. All we need to do is bulldoze whatever is there and they take all of the "Peace" Camp up there. They can protect in peace, without disrupting the capital, and if they are inventive and creative, they can turn it into a major media attraction (and perhaps even a tourist attraction). I think this could be just the compromise that's needed to move along.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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