Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Travellin' and protestin' - Argus gets into a state!

Excuse us..........

The Argus has got itself in a real lather about travellers and protest marches - two subjects which never asked to be conflated, but the Argus has obliged anyway!

I am going to concentrate in this article on political protest, which apparently, the Argus and the local Tories seem to regard as a new phenomenon which only goes on in Brighton and Hove.  This despite the enormous local heritage of protest demonstrations, from the General Strike, to the anti-fascist protests against the blackshirts, the NF and the EDL, to the protests against the poll tax.  Currently, protests against the government's economic policies are taking place in towns and cities across the country, not just here (in case you thought otherwise).

In fact, the only group who seem to have made a point of picking on Brighton for a march, despite most participants not actually living here, was the EDL....ahem...sorry...the "March for England" - although that did of course attract a fair bit of local "attention".

Recent protest marches and activities include a large march against the cuts, and most recently actions by the Brighton branch of UKUncut - activities which were positively received by local people.  Until last weekend we had the Spanish Revolutionary camp, a few tents in Steine Gardens, which Councillor Geoffrey "I'll park my Jag where I like" Theobald has spent weeks trying to portray as the end of civilisation as we know it.

The Argus would have you believe that these activities are uniquely bearing down on Brighton and are the sole cause of businesses in the centre of town suffering.  Funny..I would have thought that VAT hikes, wage cuts, benefit cuts and galloping inflation might have had something to do with it.  Is it really credible that the brief appearance of some demonstrators could so completely gum up the wheels of commerce?

So what's at the root of all this?  Well obviously alot of it is about the Tories trying to undermine the Green council administration.  Councillor Ben Duncan recently stated that protest was welcome in Brighton - a harmless statement which has sent the Tories into a state of pretend apoplexy.  At times like this (when they've just lost an election and face four years of wilderness), the mask of liberal respectability slips.  They really don't like the idea of people actually using their democratic right to protest - a bit like Vince Cable upholding the right to strike just as long as there aren't any strikes.

The best antidote to this nonsense is to carry on protesting - and 30th June, when 750,000 public sector workers are on strike, will be an ideal opportunity.

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