Well, Saturday was quite a day! I haven’t seen so many of my fellow citizens out on the streets since the Stop The War protest about a decade ago – which, until last year, was the only protest I attended as an adult and made a big impression on me. It was a very moving experience being a part of such a wonderful day on Saturday. Contrary to the hyperbolic hysterical media reports, my overall experience was one of solidarity, creativity and peaceful protest, like well over 99.9% of the half a million people (at least) that were Marching For the Alternative. Of course there was some violence, there was some violence (deplorable, of course), but it was not what the march was about, nor what UKUncut was about.
I’ve been very proud to participate in the UK Uncut movement. I’ve previously been at sit ins at Vodafone, who have been let off a whopping SIX BILLION POUNDS (Yes, billion, not even millions) in tax – which is a strikingly similar amount to the cuts to welfare that the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society rely on to live. I’m also got my first ban a few months ago – at Topshop, where I was sitting in with other concerned members of our society campaigning against the moral abomination that is Phillip Green , ‘Efficiency Tsar’ to the coalition government, a man who has registered his companies in his wife’s name in Monaco, meaning that, even though he runs the company, he doesn’t pay tax on earnings. He paid nothing on a £1.2 billion dividend, while advising the government on how to make ‘efficiency savings’ (by cutting jobs, welfare, the NHS, public services). The government is using the global financial crisis as an alibi, while destroying the very ‘Big Society‘ they are espousing (double-speak if I’ve ever heard it!).
I am proud of being a part of UKUncut and am horrified by the arrest of 168 peaceful protesters, while only 11 other protesters were arrested for violent offences. Democratic peaceful protest is our heritage, and possibly the most important part of our heritage – to criminalise it is, in itself, criminal, in my opionion – and a subversion of the principles of justice and democracy that should be held above all in our society. The police tricked the protesters into leaving by saying that they would not be arrested – these are political arrests, nothing more. It’s important that we do not get intimidated into not standing up and protesting when we need to. What kind of a world would we live in without the changes that have happened as a result of legitimate protest?