Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Parliament Square Returns To The People…

Tanya Gold mourns the loss of this shining jewel in the crown of our nation:
Democracy Village, a ragtag community of peace activists, pro-democracy campaigners and the homeless in central London, is about to be torn down.
Oh, shame! Well, Tanya, you can always invite them to camp out in your garden, if you’re so worried. No?

Thought not. After all, as Quiet Man points out, it's not like they could be said to have improved the place while there, is it?

Just how did this rabble ever come to occupy the place anyway?
It was born on May Day this year, when an anti-war march from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar Square stumbled a few hundred yards further to hang effigies of the party leaders on a gibbet in Parliament Square. And ever since it has lended (sic) something of a fresh look to the seat of British power.
A ‘fresh look’..? Are you kidding?
It is not, as the mayor and other critics have claimed, filthy, but it does have a chaotic, never-to-be-seen-again curiosity: a campsite surrounded by the Treasury, the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.
And seen by countless thousands of tourists, as I saw for myself on a recent visit to Westminster.

All snapping away at the marvellous historical buildings, while trying in vain to avoid the detritus and mess caused by these ‘protesters’. What an utter disgrace to our nation to allow this to go on for so long...

It seems even the regulars got tired at the end:
The food, which used to come from a field kitchen on the south corner, has become ad hoc, and the hay bale toilet has been abandoned for the public loos in St James Park. "People donate things," Gallastegui says, "a cake, some water, a jar of olives." A blonde woman with blue tattoos on her face, holding a bottle of wine, walks up, to ask Gallastegui to buy food. "We're starving, darling," she says.
Get a job, then…
Gallastegui is also watching over an autistic teenager who arrived with activists from a London "eco-village" which had been dismantled by police. She points him out as he runs around, hugging people and talking into a microphone. "He has found a new freedom," she says. "He has never really had the freedom to roam. Normal society wouldn't associate with him at all."
Oh, good grief! No doubt, if he comes to harm while enjoying his ‘freedom’, his parents will be the first to employ a bunch of ambulance-chasing shysters…
On the south side of the square, the peace protester Brian Haw stands facing the Palace of Westminster on his crutches. He will not speak to me, or to anyone involved with Democracy Village.

He is said to believe that the inhabitants of Democracy Village are agents of the state, whose only purpose is to have him evicted from the patch of pavement where he has been protesting against the Iraq war since 2001.
Brian, your tinfoil hat is ready, do come in for your fitting…

It was not a haven of peace and harmony either, you’ll no doubt be shocked to discover:
Later, there is a dispute at the microphone. After a bearded man has read a poem called Strange Brains, a visiting Christian group sings Jesus Loves You. A female activist protests. "Why are you talking about God?" she shouts, pointing at the singers. "You! You! This is oppression." "We are all children of God," says the singer, "I believe that Christ died to set the captives free."
Oh, well. Now they are back to being the benefits office’s problem.

Still, I expect the neighbours were glad for the break…

Johann Hari also has an article about the Routing of the Rabble, but as is becoming customary for a Hari article, it starts out as wild-eyed frothing hyperbole and descends rapidly downwards. It's practically unfiskable:
Freedom is not an "eyesore", as the London Mayor Boris Johnson claimed: citizens pressuring their government for justice are the most luscious sight in the world.
Errr, right. If you say so, Hari...

10 comments:

BenS said...

It's a shame our Johann has aa, uh, incomplete understanding of 'freedom'.

That said, it is a public space. That's the tragedy of the commons for you.

Blood In The Sand said...

I would have napalmed the hippy throbbers...

But that's just me.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

Silly old you, BenS. Don't you realise freedom and democracy exist so that the inhabitants of 'Democracy Village' get what they want. That the electorate roundly reject them is neither here nor there.

BenS said...

And there, Brian, you show that democracy and freedom are largely incompatible.

I'm not a big fan of a load of smelly layabouts setting up camp in the middle of a busy city, but it IS a public area. *shrug*

I mean either it is or it isn't.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Even Public areas have rules.

One is, you do not shit all over them. Which from reports I have heard and seen of the stink at the site, is EXACTLY what they have been doing.

Although with hippys, how the HEL do you tell the difference? They all stink like that any way.

Umbongo said...

"Public Space" as in "for the use of the public"? Effectively I (along with many others) have been prevented from enjoying - let alone using - the public space outside the Houses of Parliament. "Public Space" is not there to be hijacked by any load of rabble, be they "peace protesters", "travellers" or not-rabble like the Countryside Alliance who, if memory serves, demonstrated outside Parliament and then went home.

"Freedom" is not licence to do anything you want: the rabble now being removed from Parliament Square were quite entitled to demonstrate. However, as a blogger (who exactly, I cannot remember) wrote about Brian Haws when he was recently removed "we've heard you Brian - now f*** off". That's all he was entitled to: to be heard: not to camp in the street for years and sound off loudly and at length on the Iraq War (creating a nuisance to the general public who wanted to use the public space available to it).

Simlarly, some nutter used to walk up and down Oxford Street spouting religious crapola through a loud-hailer until he was stopped because he was committing a legal nuisance. The objection was not the crapola but the fact that his amplified insistence on getting his message across interfered with the right of the public to use and enjoy the public space of Oxford Street without being upset by excessive noise. He was quite entitled AFAIAA to do the same without a loud-hailer but, again AFAIAA, he hasn't reappeared.

Angry Exile said...

"He is said to believe that the inhabitants of Democracy Village are agents of the state, whose only purpose is to have him evicted from the patch of pavement where he has been protesting against the Iraq war since 2001."

"Brian, your tinfoil hat is ready, do come in for your fitting…"


Oh, yes, tinfoil hattery of the highest quality. Now if he'd said 'useful idiots' he might have been on to something.

blueknight said...

What my old Police Chief would have called a 'shower of shit.'

JuliaM said...

"I'm not a big fan of a load of smelly layabouts setting up camp in the middle of a busy city, but it IS a public area."

But as others have pointed out, public areras are not without rules. Not are they intended for permanent occupation.

"What my old Police Chief would have called a 'shower of shit.'"

It smelt like it, that's for sure! I'm sorry I went on a hot day...

Anonymous said...

"With freedom comes responsibility." Eleanor Roosevelt said. This shower may wish to exercise the freedoms that living in a democracy (or what passes for one these days), but they are not responsible, either for themselves - scroungers and DHSS drones for the most part I'll warrant, or for the place they are occupying - if its left like a shit hole who cares? Someone else (the tax payer) will sort it out, nor are they responsible enough to understand that their actions put a dent in the freedoms of the rest of us, because, taking the example the peace protestor Brian Haw, the Government eventually get fed up with people like him and enact legislation to restrict him... and the rest of us at the same time. (Sections 132-138 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005). Haw may have a valid point and a genuine point of view but its time he packed it in. His original reason for being there has been overtaken by events. The other lot should be genuinely ashamed of desecrating such a place. Trouble is, they are not... which makes the rest of us angry. The price of democracy is that we must allow people to protest, or we all lose something precious - freedom. The last Labour government passed more legislation than any administration since the beginning of time, or at least at twice the rate of the previous Conservative administration.. A serious case of 'bannitis'. We are all the losers.