I usually avoid London at all costs but the last couple of weekends the dog has had a big early walk and we’ve hot footed it down to Das Kapital for demonstrations.
The first weekend was hot on the heels of the Panama Papers scandal, the demo was swiftly organised and we estimated 1500 people tops….there was a carnival atmosphere, with people wearing flowers, Hawaiian shirts and, of course, Panama hats as we gathered across the road from Downing Street and then, with a surge over the road, to surround the gates. The police were pretty laid back…allowing the traffic on both sides of Whitehall to be stopped.
Then came the ‘pass it on’ message through the crowd to follow the music….and we did… through the streets, stopping traffic as we went…police running ahead to create traffic blocks.
We ended up in front of a hotel….with no idea why. So we asked and found out ‘this’ is where Cameron is today – Conservative Spring Conference at the Grand Connaught Hotel… we’re in the masonic heartland here so the Tories probably felt at home.
Anyway…lots of shouting, beach balls bouncing round the crowd and the backdoor surrounded as well as the front…
….and then back to Downing Street, where the crowd was at it’s peak…I guess people had turned up whilst we were away.
It was a good natured demo… marred, I believe, in the evening by some young folk overdoing the bevvies and getting leery.
Lots of media coverage….well ‘some’ UK coverage but a decided lack from the BBC…okay it wasn’t the biggest demo but given some of the dross they cover I’d have thought some jolly people having a good natured party outside Downing Street as a response to our PM’s behaviour might have warranted coverage.
Forward wind to… this weekend.
A massive march…I can’t say how big as we were in the middle of it but I know we were nearer the front than the back and when we reached Trafalgar Square it was already packed with people…enough so that, tired of crowds, we split away and went to visit the junior doctors on their stake out outside the Department of Health.
All the major unions were represented on the march, plus a good array of generally concerned citizens and a large number of niche concern groups like pro-Palestine groups and boaties fighting for their right to continue living on British waterways. Again a good natured march with music and drummers and lots of noise…people of all ages and from most walks of life.
But the coverage definitely over represented the small number of anarchists wielding coloured smoke bombs…okay they make a good photographic subject but they were a very small minority.
After visiting the junior doctors (and their kids) and being sung to by the NHS choir (which brought a tear to my eye) we went and ate sandwiches in Parliament Square before ending up outside Downing Street with the obvious ‘ne’er do wells’… we could tell they were ne’er do wells as there were about 27 vanloads of police corralling about 30 of them onto one side of Whitehall.
As that’s where the music (instead of speeches) was we hung out, had a chat and had a dance outside the police cordon before going home :leaving my daughter down there and she spent the evening drifting with the other (mostly) young folk back and forth between Trafalgar Square and Downing Street…following the bicycle with the sound system on. As dark fell there was an open megaphone session where, she says, some really thoughtful points were made. Very little trouble, the police remained as they have throughout mostly good natured (because we are all in it together… all except the government – who seriously aren’t in it with us at all).
Reporting, even on social media, of this small group of people mostly tried to make them look as threatening as possible… here (below) a video of ‘them’ on the move by an ex-Sun reporter…which cuts out as the photographer realises the happy smiley people grooving to the music are coming into shot (led by my own fair daughter and friend).
They are on the move down Whitehall again pic.twitter.com/NIWQvb9M1q
— Georgina Stubbs (@georginafstubbs) April 16, 2016
Once home we checked the news (like you do) and the big gap in coverage was once again the BBC news… we definitely saw a BBC cameraman there (called Aaron)…so where’s the footage?
Great big march…speeches by several fairly major left wing politicians (Labour and Green)…but nothing from the beeb other than a rather lacklustre online article.
I appreciate the BBC are under the cosh of the Tories but at some point they must have had a choice to make…do we:
a)buckle down and become effectively the mouthpiece of the state with an appalling pro-government bias
or do we
b)educate and inform the public as was intended, take the hit from the government but in doing so (like the junior doctors) achieve an almost untouchable godlike status for standing up for whats right for the population at large.
Clue…the answer seems to be a).
Mr. Eclecticchicken (who also took all the photos in this blog) will be writing to stop his direct debit for our BBC license…we never watch live tv but have continued to pay it as we enjoy Radio 4 and consider that once the BBC was something (like the NHS) to be rightly proud of.
And I shall be writing to the London Mayor,Boris Johnson about how it cost me a whole £1 to go for a wee in his town.
Please note…this blog is about the London anti-austerity march on 16th April and not any of the others around the country. I’ve certainly had good personal reports from Leeds…anyone got news of the others as we certainly won’t see them on the BBC!
NB.All photographs can be shared but please credit Alan Chambers if possible.