Downing Street Demo Coverage, and Anarchist Mayhem Promised (honest)

February 20, 2009

Photos from Peter Marshall (UK Indymedia)

There’s some coverage of last night’s demo in the Evening Standard. They seem to have got the number’s right(ish), reporting 150 at the Campaign Against Climate Change organized demo, and 20 at that of the Modern Movement. However, pressed for space, they give a spokesperson of the Modern Movement an unchallenged soapbox, which they used to state that:

“The extension of flying to millions of people has been a liberation. The development of aviation infrastructure is crucial to allow ever more people to fly.”

Despite the reality that expanding Heathrow will not result in millions of new flyers, least of all those in poor nations. It also ignores the view of industry (as represented by BA’s Bob Ayling) that expanding Heathrow is a far less crucial “development of aviation infrastructure” than breaking up BAA or developing regional airports. Still less does it consider that the resources spent “developing” Heathrow could be better spent on rail projects.

The headline of the Standard article is, well, standard: “Demonstrators bear down on Westminster in fight against Heathrow expansion.” Of course, they did no such thing. The Standard is infamous for reporting inaccurately, and maliciously on the Climate Camp (held at Heathrow, coincidentally). Still, the coverage of the Downing Street demo is welcome.

On the other hand, the Standard’s coverage of the upcoming G20 meeting being held in London in the first week of April is derisory. As usual, London’s major daily newspaper has carried a scare-story which pre-empts police violence against lawful protesters (and slightly less lawful, but not necessarily deplorable protesters as well).

This time around, hacks Robert Mendick and Nigel Rosser have discovered that “Police are on full alert ahead of the protest, planned for 1 April – the day world leaders arrive in London for the G20 summit” while “Police sources said: “Angry activists and aggressive City trader types are a volatile mix, as we have seen before.”

The action in question is Financial Fools Day, scheduled for April 1, and being loosely organized in the UK under the Climate Camp Umbrella. But actions are planned to coincide with the G20 around the world. After all, the financial crisis is global in scope. With that in mind, a constellation of trade unionists, development NGOs, environmentalists, farmers, migrants groups and women’s rights groups have committed to action on April 1 in Paris.

In London, actions are being planned not against “the financial system” in abstract, but against specific financial institutions, whose policies and behaviour have been detrimental to human rights and the environment. People and Planet have a series of actions in prospect, but are focusing on RBS-Natwest, owing to that bank’s (or should we say, “quango”) environmentally catastrophic investment decisions.

This is all very reasonable indeed. As P&P’s website states, “As UK citizens, we all own the bank. Our taxes are being spent on fossil fuel projects. We have the right to demand control and influence to stop this. The government are failing to exercise the climate responsibility which is now in their hands.”

Climate Camp, in a more radical take, suggest that “We’ve camped against the Heathrow runway, we’ve camped against the Kingsnorth coal power station. Now its time to camp against the over-arching problem: absolute faith in unfettered markets and endless economic growth.”

“On April 1st the G20 leaders arrive in London. At a time of climate crisis their response to the market meltdown is emergency loans to car manufacturers, increased spending to encourage consumption, and bailouts for the very people who got us into this mess – just the thing that will make the climate crisis worse.”

Yet this is not the language of a bunch of crazed nihilists. This is the mainstream, although the tone and content of the ES article fails to convey this. And there are no hints of violence, or the need for police intervention. Anyone who was at the Climate Camp 2008 can attest to the willingness of the Metropolitan Police to “deal” with protesters one way or another, without a sniff of justification for doing so.

Oh well, it’s good PR for the event itself.

There’s more coverage of the Downing Street demo from the Richmond and Twickenham Times and the Hillingdon Times as well.

Some excellent counter-counter protesting from Plane Stupid activists, Parliament Square last night (Peter Marshall)

Some excellent counter-counter protesting from Plane Stupid activists, Parliament Square last night (Peter Marshall)

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One Response to “Downing Street Demo Coverage, and Anarchist Mayhem Promised (honest)”


  1. […] action against the Evening Standard following the paper’s publication of an article which promised anarchist inspired mayhem at the upcoming G20 Summit, to be held in early […]


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