Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Day In London

So I went on my first protest march yesterday, and what an introduction: about a quarter million marchers out to let the government know what they think of their draconian cuts.  It was really magnificent.

Hey, Look!  It's Big Ben!

Now, before I go any further, let me say that, like most people, I do have political opinions and, like most people, I do enjoy spouting them off in the pub when the discussion turns toward the nefarious doings of the current pack of assholes in power (because, face it, whoever they are, whether you voted for them or not, once they get into power, they become, de facto, “those assholes running the country”).  However, unlike most people, I freely admit my opinion really isn’t worth considering.  I know my limitations; I’m a project manager in a small computer company, it is all I can do to organize a simple project (and beyond my capabilities, if you listen to some of my co-workers) so running a country is outside of my remit and if, god help us, that responsibility ever fell to me, you could be certain I would make a hash of it.  So there will be no political opinion spouting here—the soapbox is safely tucked into the closet where it belongs.

All that said, and admitting I do not agree with all of the parties that were marching, I think the protest was a fine idea.  After all, the government has undeniably pissed off a large number of people, and we have the good fortune to live in a society where we have the right to let the government know that they have pissed us off and, furthermore, the ability to come together to express discontent without the government bombing us.

Look at me, will you, marching with the Communists.

So what it amounted to, for me, was a lovely walk through London.  And it was.  The day was cool and mostly pleasant, and we had the opportunity to view a host of London landmarks on our winding way to Hyde Park without the hassle of traffic or those pesky tourists being in the way.  We actually ran into a few people we knew (in a crowd that size—what are the odds), had a nice, and welcomed, early dinner, took a train home and arrived in time to catch ourselves on the evening news.

All in all, a perfectly fine day.

Granted, it won’t make a blind bit of difference; the government will continue to do what it is doing but at least now there are about 250,000 people who can feel just a bit better because they made an effort and did something.

That is democracy in action, and why I think the march was, not only a fine idea, but something that needed to be done, if only to preserve our right to do it.


  1. Did you see any of tthe voilence that has been reported? It's a shame that the fair and valid point made by you and the many thousands of others on the march is now all for nothing due to a few anarchists(?) who attached themselves to the protest to cause trouble. That is all that will be remembered by most people and all that will be remarked upon by the politicians, using it as a reason to take no notice at all of 250,00 "rabble rousers".

    Glad you enjoyed the day though Mike. (seriously, not being ironic or anything)

  2. Steve, I couldn't miss the reports of the violence; after all, it makes better pictures in the news. Still, and I give credit to the news reporters for this, it was continually stressed that the violence had nothing to do with the march.

    These people who perpetrate the violence are not protesters but louts and thugs who simply take advantage of the anonymity a crowd provides so they can throw rocks at building and petrol bombs at police without much risk of getting caught. They lack the courage, conviction and nobility of an actual protester and show themselves for what they are--criminals.

    So I didn't give them any space in my post, and I've already given them too much here.

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed your walk and the experience of being part of something bigger than yourself. Unison have always been good to me. I was in that union for many years and there was one time in my life when I could not have done without them. Good on yer!

  4. Fair point Mike....

  5. Steve, It's just that you have to wonder if protests could be outlawed because of this. That would be so, so wrong.

    The news continues to show the damage (makes great TV, really) but the shots of the crowd at the March are quite impressive, as well. But as far as I know, Cameron hasn't hastily assembled his advisors and told them, "We have to change our domestic policies right away!" In fact, a government spokesperson was on the telly saying just what I predicted, that it was a nice rally and good on the people for speaking up but they weren't going to change anything.

  6. A free society is a wonderful thing. Really. You're right that one march doth not a movement make, but as one spanner in the toolbox of civil governance it's kind of handy, especially when the weather cooperates. :) And think how much worse protesters in, say, Gary, Indiana have it, without all those nifty landmarks to enjoy along the way.

  7. You're probably right about it not really making a difference, but at least we have the freedom to protest, which isn't true in so many parts of the world. Good to see that you took part.