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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Brian Haw and the protestors village at Parliament Square

What harm has Brian Haw and his merry band of protesters ever done?

When I worked in Parliament and then Westminster area they became part of the every day scene and a reminder that our democracy is based on free speech, something as a Liberal Democrat, I am immensely proud of.

So yesterday when it was announced the Police during a search of the tents, prior to the arrival of HM The Queen for the State Opening of Parliament, had then arrested Brian Haw and Barbara Tucker I was dismayed.  The Police presence as very often in London, was well over the top as you can see from this photo by The Press Association.

Now we hear that Boris Johnson is applying to The High Court to have the protesters removed from Parliament Square altogether.

Boris, you have got this one wrong, what harm are they actually doing? 

Don't we have a right to protest in this democratic country of ours?

In The Guardian, Shami Chakrabati, director of Liberty, the human rights campaign group, said:
"We are very sad to see that on a day that is supposed to celebrate British democracy, peaceful dissent is also shut down. The new coalition government has promised to restore the right to non-violent protest. Attempts to clear Parliament Square are not the most promising start."
Now, I accept when I worked in the area there were no more than 10 tents and now there in excess of 30+, but surely we should still remain focussed on the fact that this is a democratic country with free speech?

These people have not scaled the walls of Parliament nor broken through security like the Greenpeace protesters have in the past.  No, they have merely pitched a tent and are protesting about a cause they believe in opposite the Mother of all Parliaments as is their right to do so in this country.

Let us hope Boris Johnson fails in his bid to remove them.


Matthew Huntbach said...

What harm has Brian Haw and his merry band of protesters ever done?

They have made a mess. They have achieved nothing.

Had they instead have put their effort into electoral campaigning, they would have achieved far more. So many New Labour and Tory MPs have been elected because of insufficient workers on the ground putting the case against.

If the point of these protestors is that their protests will change the minds of MPs, doesn't it ever occur to them that it's easier just to change the MPs? When I see so much right-wing rubbish in the press, I despair that there are too many silly lefties engaged in pointless protest like this rather than winning the hearts and minds of the people by delivering Focus and the like.

Mr Haw has made his point, fine. When I see or hear him in Parliament Square I do not think "Gosh, I never thought about how bad the Iraq War was before". Actually I think "You stupid fool - I understand your point, I did years ago, but we NEED campaigners out there in the streets putting it to ordinary people in the way we know works best - on a bit of paper through their letterboxes".

And I do think it's messy and undignified, and wrecks what was once a pleasant green space.

John Oakes said...

Mr Huntbach, a lot of people in this country don't fall into neat party categories,or reject parties outright . However, like Andrew I thought it was their inalienable right as British citizens to make their feelings known so that formal parties could take note of them; every person brave enough to pitch a tent in Parliament Square probably represents thousands of like-minded people up and down the country.
I am ashamed that Boris Johnson does not uphold this right. He is obviously cast in the mould of the Mayor of Lnndon who stabbed the leader of the Peasants' Revolt to death.The dagger can still be seen on the City's coat of arms.

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