Just Been to the Bank of England Protest

I’m not in work today, so I thought I’d go and have a look at what’s going on down at the Bank of England today. Arriving at Liverpool Street slightly late, we caught up with the march shortly before it reached Threadneedle Street. Generally, the march is comprised of the usual suspects, people carrying banners saying things like “CONSUMERS SUCK” and “Climate Change is Bad”, seemingly with no sense of irony whatsoever. I don’t know if the climate change branch of the march was particularly full of eejits – when we went round the other side, there were some rather more sensible banners around.

I don’t know exactly how many of the other people there were there to protest themselves, and how many just to have a look at the action. Probably for quite a few it’s a bit of both. But in any case, I don’t think this counts as the Summer of Rage that has been predicted. Not just yet, anyway. It’s not exactly a million people marching against the Iraq war, is it?

The other thing I might as well comment on is the police presence. It’s massive. The streets leading into the protest are all crammed with police vans, many of them full of reserves of police awaiting the command to come piling in. Generally, whilst we were there the policing was pretty restrained, which has been borne out by what I’ve seen on the TV since I got back. What I would say, though, is that I’m not sure the police strategy of almost walling us in was a good idea. I think what they may well have achieved is to make a lot of people present feel a whole lot more involved and polarised than they intended to. Hanging around at the back of the crowd, so I could slip away if things got unpleasant, it was a bit unnerving to see a wall of police behind us.

There was a certain sense of “well, you’ve come down here, don’t complain to us if we treat you like the troublemakers at the front”. I realise it’s difficult to know how to police this kind of event, where the people in attendance are by no means homogenous, but I can’t help but feel that there must be a better way than this. Ultimately, lines are confrontational. If you start forming great big lines before you’ve even had a confrontation, it kind of sends a signal.

I’m now watching a small group of protesters smashing up the windows of a branch of RBS, and the reporter there commenting that the police aren’t really moving in, because doing so might involve turning a larger group of people angry, although how many of them might actually engage the police is unpredictable. Exactly. The risk you run in treating a crowd as a single entity is to reduce everyone to the lowest level of behaviour present.


US Tellypandering

Just read this on GU. According to the Graun:

Final confirmation that George Bush has too much time on his hands came last night.

Well into the lame-duck stage of his presidency, with his duties at the White House increasingly minimal, Bush found time to put in an appearance on the popular game show ‘Deal or No Deal’.

Bush, who according to a Gallup poll today became the most unpopular president in recorded US history, said he was thrilled to be on the show. “Come to think of it, I’m thrilled to be anywhere with high ratings these days,” he said.

It was for a popular cause, in support of a US war veteran taking part in the contest, which has a $1m prize.

This much doesn’t surprise me. He is, as they point out, a lame duck with no political capital left to spend and a congress with little sympathy for him or his party. But the following startled me perhaps more:

While Bush was on the game show, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain were appearing on the World Wrestling Entertainment’s popular ‘Monday Night Raw’ programme.

These people, obviously, aren’t lame ducks. So what are they doing messing about on something like WWE’s Raw? Funny how the process of getting elected makes people do the kind of thing that a president only wants to do when they’ve run out of anything more useful to do.

RETRACTION: Mark Littlewood, Rentacritic

Following a response by Mark Littlewood on this post, I have been persuaded that the opinions I expressed in the post below were wrong. I do not believe that Mark is motivated to make appearances by the possibility to cause damage to the party, and it was incorrect for me to suggest that his appearances are always critical. I would like to apologise for these comments.

I will not be removing the post or any of the comments it attracted, because I do not believe that it is a healthy or desirable mode of discourse for bloggers to do so when their posts attract criticism.


Just watched last night’s Newsnight, in which Nick Clegg was given a good sneering at by Paxman. Nick did OK, I thought, though he would have done well to get in the point that the constitution was an amalgamtion of Maastricht, Nice, Lisbon, etc., and not just Lisbon. Paxman becomes ever more impossible on subjects where he clearly thinks his subjective judgments on things are facts.

But what irked me most was the fact that Mark Littlewood was once again used by a news programme as their “he-used-to-work-for-them-so-if-HE-feels-this-way-it-MUST-mean-something” interviewee. I can’t remember how many times I have now seen him featured on programmes like Newsnight, always making comments critical of the party’s position or strategy. But no matter how many appearances he has made, I cannot ever remember it being pointed out that he left the party under something of a cloud.

Can anybody point me in the direction of a single media intervention he has made since “resigning” from his job which has been helpful to the party?

Happy New Year

Apart from that, I would just like to draw people’s attention to this, a rather more reactive and, dare I say it, blog-like posting from Loz Miles, about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s last sermon of 2007:

Speaking out against “political correctness” during his final sermon of 2007, the Archbishop of Middlemarch has surprised Britain’s Christians by inventing a completely made-up world on the spur of the moment.

Go read!

Slow News Day?

I have just been quite entertained by looking at the BBC Politics page and seeing the headline “Business to lobby Darling on tax”.

You don’t say.

(nonpolitical) Excitement!

I just wanted to register my general glee at the prospect of an Adam and Joe radio vehicle which I can actually listen to on an actual radio (not being a London person, I have not been able to listen to their previous efforts on Xfm, although their excellently funny podcasts made up for that a bit). You hear me, 6 Music? Make this happen as soon as possible, please.

And that’s probably it from me for today, because a) I am now back in Cambridge, with a big wad of research projects to choose from which I should probably at least read, and b) I can’t think of very much politics I might write about, since I don’t really want to contribute to the mountain of guff about snap elections: “My dog done a funny shaped turd this morning. What does this mean for the prospects of a snap election?”

None of us really know, and you know what? It doesn’t matter. If it happens, it will happen, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Whatever the principle of it, the decision currently rests with Brown, and he will do whatever it is he does. Personally, having lived through the last few weeks will serve only to make me that much more determined to see a Lib Dem government and the fixed term parliaments that would come with it. Only then can we be sure that we won’t have to live through another national snap election fever like the last few weeks. Like Ming said last night on Question Time, “Nothing that has happened in the past few weeks has been in the public interest.”

New Finish Turbodry

“Isn’t it annoying when plastics come out of your dishwasher still wet?”

…um, not hugely, no.

Are we now so lazy that we need a chemical to save ourselves the back breaking quick-going-over-with-a-tea-towel incurred by the few items that don’t come out the dishwasher dry?

It’s enough to turn me into an old git (clearly)…