Student Protest Round-Up: Ed Balls What a Tool, Charlie Gilmour’s Photo Montage, Cenotaph Hypocrisy

December 13, 2010


Ed balls thinks that the attack on Prince Charles and Camilla’s Rolls Royce last Thursday was “cowardly and despicable.” He urges us to recognise the bravery of the police. That is the limit of his concerns when questioning Home Secretary Theresa May.

Theresa May calls the protests “appalling”and “infiltrated by thugs.” She knows, from deep investigation that “the violence lies with those that carried it out. It is not true to say that police tactics were to blame.”

42 protesters were (officially) injured last week. They injured themselves. Actually, this is not sarcasm. After questioning a row of casualties at the protest about how they were injured, all responded that their wounds were caused by police batons. A police officer in attendance told me unequivocally that it “woz their own people that done it.” I disagreed.

Anyway, so much for Labour holding the ConDem coalition to account over police brutality. In his calculated timidity, Ed Balls is setting the scene for an all out attack on protest, not just student protest. This is just the moment for a crusading shadow Home Secretary to mention the way in which police diverted the march, seeking to prevent access to Parliament Square and blocked the agreed march route to Victoria Embankment. Or how they immediately began horse charges into the rear of a packed crowd. Or the many cases of police violence against totally peaceful protesters. Or, of course, the pre-emptive and cynical “double kettle” which trapped thousands in Parliament Square or Whitehall and then again on Westminster Bridge.

Sod Ed Balls. We need better than that.

Charlie and the Violence Factory

Charlie Gilmour was at the demo. He’s involved with Pink Floyd. Charlie was arrested and bailed today on charges of suspected violent disorder and criminal damage.

I have every sympathy for Charlie. Being pictured swinging from a flag on the cenotaph wasn’t a great way to endear himself to a prospective judge and the media. Being the adopted son of a successful and wealthy musician must make his notoriety hard to take as well. But employing a personal photographer to make a photo montage of you performing every anarchist cliché known to man while at the demo doesn’t make his defense easier.

OK, well Charlie didn’t as far as I know directly employ a photographer. But along with the well known image of him draped from the Union Jack on Whitehall, the vigilant press managed to get some remarkably vivid snaps of him engaging in nefarious actions.

Here he is trying rather incompetently to set a fire outside the “Supreme Court”:

Here he is looking a little menacing with a rock:

Apologies for the source, but the Daily Mail reports that “At 8.10pm, less than an hour after the attack on the Royal limousine, he was filmed by the BBC outside Topshop in Oxford Street, half-hiding a woman’s lace-up boot under his coat.”

Gilmour was dressed as an “anarchist” with his red and black flag and black attire. But his sentiments are distinctly un-anarchist. When arrested he told the press “I saw this flag hanging up there. It was a great big flag. It turned out that it was hanging on a very sacred monument. I was rightly told off by the other protesters. I am extremely respectful of the soldiers who gave their lives. I was just caught up in the excitement of the moment.’”

No anarchist would use such an opportunity to call a war memorial “sacred.” You might not agree with the reasoning, but the vast majority would see it as a representation of state power and a memory not to soldiers dead, but the criminals who led them. And the flag? Burned. Happily.

I have no evidence that agent provocateurs were used on Thursday, but the case does sound fishy.

No Thanks For the Memory

It was calleda grotesque insult to those who championed the very freedoms which allowed them to stage their protest” by the Daily Mail. David Cameron weighed in, saying that “There is not a right to go on the streets of London, wanting to pursue violence and smashing up property….Seeing people swinging from flags off the Cenotaph and defacing the statue of Churchill – I think people going about their everyday lives in this country will think it is unacceptable.”

Swinging from a flag attached to the Cenotaph certainly provoked some outrage. But much of this is deeply hypocritical.

How can newspapers like the Daily Mail or politicians like David Cameron deplore the “desecration” of a war memorial, and the soldiers it remembers, while the media and government continue to cheer or fight a needless, murderous war in Afghanistan? How can a paper which supported the war in Iraq, condemning thousands to their deaths, or a politician who voted happily for it, be taken seriously as champions of military remembrance?

Very few of the miserable conscripts who fought in World War One would believe the lies we are told about our cowardly wars. They would be outraged by the cuts agenda too. When they came back from both world wars, soldiers joined the fight for better pay, housing, public services.

They would have been marching on Thursday, showing nothing but contempt for the aristocratic clique now claiming to guard their “sacred” memory.



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