Saturday, February 11, 2006

That's Me at the Back.


I can identify the first sharp waning of my sympathies for placard waving protesters to one specific moment in time.

It was 1987, and I was standing on Westminster Bridge, London, surrounded by students protesting about the proposed introduction of student loans. The crowd was being prevented from crossing the bridge by the Metropolitan police. The police weren’t doing anything to provoke the crowd. They were straining against the mass of bodies pressing against them, and I heard one constable should out “fucking middle class wankers.” That was about as bad as it got. There were no batons raised.

I remember thinking at the time: he’s right; we are a bunch of fucking middle class wankers. What we were effectively doing was protesting in defence of privilege. The vast majority of us came from comfortable middle class backgrounds, and were enjoying a lifestyle and education subsidised by the taxpayer.

At that time a lot of people (apart from the miners, obviously) still had a bit of respect for the police, and certainly didn’t regard them as repressive state functionaries. Unfortunately there was an element in the crowd that didn’t think like that at all. The usual Anarchist and Marxist sects had turned up to pursue their own agenda. This amounted to puerile chants of ‘fascist pigs’, and chucking stuff at the police. To their credit, the police didn’t respond.

That was the end of my street fighting days. We live in a free society were the right to demonstrate is a fundamental freedom. There are many causes in which it is right to demonstrate. I only wish most demonstrations didn’t attract the kind of sanctimonious, self righteous, banner waving tossers that derive a smug satisfaction from adding their chants to that of an unthinking mass.

14 comments:

Sniffy said...

I've never been on a demo. The only "march" I ever took part in was a fraction of a Whit Week Walk when I was a kid - and that was only because I was having a conversation with a friend in the walk and ended up walking with them back to the church.

I may be wrong, but I never saw the point in demonstration. Or perhaps that's not true. Perhaps I just never felt strongly enough about anything to make me want to join a demo. During the same period as you were a student, I too could have joined in the marches against student loans and the poll tax, but I think I was in the minority amongst my leftie peers in that I actually thought they were sensible ideas.

Perhaps demonstration is good when,somehwere along the line, it can bring about change. Indeed, we all need to be thankful for those who have marched on our behalf in the past. Without these brave souls, women might not be able to vote, homosexuals wouldn't be allowed to form proper partnerships, apartheid might still be in place in South Africa,etc, etc, etc.

Maybe, one day, my time will come and I too will demonstrate... if I can be bothered.

garfer said...

If they try to ban toast toppers I shall hire a 2 million decibel PA system and call all true believers to my cause.

My cry shall ring out across the nation and millions will flock to my banner.

The word 'demo' is so wanky I almost come out in hives thinking about it.

Sniffy said...

Well I'd be right there with you on that one! Imagine if they tried to restrict Pot Noodle sales? Riots, I tell you!

When I was a postgraduate, I used to have to take time out from the lab because I was "demonstrating". This was as far removed as radical protestation as it is possible to be; it simply meant that I was taking undergraduate practical classes and showing the babies what to do.

garfer said...

I prefer procrastination to demonstration any day.

I need a chaise longue, on which I can recline eating Pringles and scoffing at the world.

pissoff said...

I missed my flight to Israel because of that protest. I'm sure that was the one. Fucking middle class wankers. I didn't even get my money back.

garfer said...

Typical colonial sourgrapes.

Be glad you haven't been mauled by a grizzly and quit yer moanin'.

S.I.D. said...

Can't wait for the Twelfth July here.

Guaranteed disruption and leaving work early, the week leading up to.

garfer said...

That's a bit premature Sid, it's only the 12th of Feb.

Jesus, it's aboot time fur a nice lie doon.

Kyahgirl said...

I've never gone in a demonstration. Canadians are pretty apathetic I guess. Hey ho.

Sniffy said...

April should know that there are always some twats demonstrating about something or other in London on any given day. Some people just can't help whinging about something or other because they feel they've been treated badly, or because they can't cope with the fact that people don't like their beliefs and so they want to accuse those people of racism (like yesterday). Normal people just stay at home and eat, or shop.

Piggy and Tazzy said...

I've read this one 23 times now.

Can we have a new one?

Lazy cunt.

suburban wonder said...

I've never demonstrated against or for anything. I have, however, seen that episode of Father Ted about 5 times now.

Sniffy said...

I'm going to organise an anti-ID card protest... in the Caribbean. anybody fancy holding my placard while I apply some sun tan cream?

Sniffy said...

ZZzzzzzzz, come on man!