Ban protest in the UK and support mainstream Media

Maximum force

Maximum force

Policing of demonstrations in the UK has once again been called in to question. The Police forces involve approach demonstrations as though every protester is a subversive out to destroy the State and cause the maximum amount of damage.

Some of the mainstream media unfortunately follow this hype, making much of isolated incidents of scuffles to raise the sentiment against protestors.

Within days of the police assault and subsequent death of Ian Tomlinson which is being investigated, both the BBC and the Times once again seek to malign protest.

ASEAN protest 2009 - Photo/Sakchai Lalit

ASEAN protest 2009 - Photo/Sakchai Lalit

In Thailand, at the ASEAN summit, a group of protesters were able to gain access to conference venue, which resulted in its cancellation, with those present being evacuated.

The BBC showed what they like to think was dramatic footage of helicopters evacuating some of the 16 leaders present at the summit, failing to mention that the Malaysian Prime Minister, as an example, left later in the day by car.

The BBC correspondent gleefully declared, that Thailand was ‘…a laughing stock..’ having permitted 200 demonstrators force the closure of the conference and drawing a derisory tone over the colours worn by the various protest groups in Thailand, and scoffing at how the International airport in Thailand had been recently closed due to another protest group.. Asking us to imagine how it would have been had the recent G20 summit been cancelled under similar circumstances and more specifically claiming that the Police in Thailand were weak in not quelling the protest and indicating that the British Policing of the recent G20 in London was far more appropriate.

Ian Tomlinson - REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Ian Tomlinson - REUTERS/Andrew Winning

I guess the rose tinted glasses of BBC reporters are not too much of a surprise, but the crassness of the statement that British Policing, is a standard any country should wish to aspire on the very day a March was held in London in remembrance of Ian Tomlinson’s death, was astounding.

The fact that Thailand is undergoing extreme political upheaval and that over 2 000 protesters were at the conference centre, appears to have flown over the head of this reporter.

Sri Lanka protest London 2009

Sri Lanka protest London 2009

The Sunday Times today have managed to run a story about another demonstration in London in which 100 000 people gathered to protest against the Sri Lankan government failing to declare a ceasefire in their fight against the Tamil Tigers. A very short report, which talked very little about the political or social situation in Sri Lanka, managed to round off the piece with a condemning tone: ‘Police made three arrests’, creating the impression once again that protests only lead to trouble and what the protest is actually about becomes a non-story.

To the mainstream media who are instilling the perception that some have, that protests are nothing more than a gathering of the violent, I would suggest they are falling out of step with public opinion, in the same way that they condemn politicians of being out of tune.

I further ask where would we be as a Society without demonstration?

The Tolpuddle Martyrs of 1834, who were sentenced to seven years in penal colony in Australia. The subsequent protests led to their sentences being repealed and the legacy is modern trades unionism, with the NUJ being one with which these nay sayers may have some knowledge.

History has shown repeatedly Society and protestors resort to greater levels of violence when their voice remains unheard.

The Suffragettes were extremely violent.

Annie Kenney (1879–1953), British suffragette.
Image via Wikipedia

In 1905 Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney interrupted a political meeting in Manchester to ask Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey if they believed women should have the right to vote, neither man replied. They got out a banner which had on it “Votes for Women” and shouted at the two politicians to answer their questions. They were arrested for causing an obstruction and a technical assault on a police officer. Both women refused to pay a fine deciding to go to prison to highlight the injustice of the system.

The Suffragettes burned down churches as the Church of England was against what they wanted; they vandalised Oxford Street; they chained themselves to Buckingham Palace as the Royal Family were seen to be against women having the right to vote; they sailed up the Thames and shouted abuse through loud hailers at Parliament as it sat; others refused to pay their tax. Politicians were attacked as they went to work, their homes were fire bombed.

When sent to prison many went on hunger strike. The government was concerned some may die and become martyrs. Prison governors were ordered to force feed Suffragettes but this caused a public outcry.

The response by Asquith was to introduce, in 1913 the Prisoners, Temporary Discharge for Health Act, the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’, similar tactics have continually been employed by subsequent Governments, to quell protest. I am sure these NUJ members will recall the 1980’s legacy particularly of Wapping and the miners strike.

The Suffragette movement supported Britain in the war effort and in 1918; the Representation of the People Act was passed by Parliament.

Brixton Riots

Brixton Riots

The police abuse of the Suss Law in the 1980’s led to the violent protests across the UK and as a result the law was repealed after an investigation into the Brixton Riots. Once again controversial legislation in 2007 is causing unrest, along with the abuse of the Terrorism Act 2000 and potential abuse of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

poll tax demonstration

poll tax demonstration

The 70 000 people who attended the Poll Tax demonstration in 1990 successfully forced a change in Government policy.

Since that time, protests have largely been ignored, with the media sitting on the side of the politicians, seeking to portray demonstrators as violent thugs, ignoring the reality of the demonstration.

London Anti-War protest

London Anti-War protest

The anti-war protests ongoing since 2001 have had no effect on British Politicians, while other countries around the world have listened to the people they represent.

British Politicians following the US political lead, not the demands of the British Population.

Perhaps Policing of protesters in Thailand was not good enough for the British Media and they would prefer the UK had an Ian Tomlinson at every demonstration, a Tiananmen Square every time people took to the streets.

To answer the question posed by the BBC reporter, what would Britain have looked like had the protestors at the G20 been policed in a similar manner to the way the Thai police handled the ASEAN protest. The answer is a happier and better place. Not one with a dead body as its legacy.

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2 Responses “Ban protest in the UK and support mainstream Media”

  1. tuxtoo says:

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  2. anarchyintheuk says:

    Thanks for taking time out comment tuxtoo.

    I’ll take a look at your site in more detail

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