Apathy

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Thursday 29 September 2005 7.45am
Sylvia Harding jailed for refusing to pay Council Tax increase. TV interviewer asks supporter if she's being irresponsible because keeping her in jail will cost £700 per day.

Senior citizen heckles Jack Straw and gets bundled out of the Labour Party conference. He is later arrested under the Terrorism Act when he tries to get back in.

I'm beginning to understand why Blair et al are distancing themselves from the 1960's. Then, parts of British society felt enough about events to do something about it. To protest.

Today it seems that protest is frowned upon. Politicians don't like it because it threatens their absolute power. The chattering classes don't like it because it reduces their skinny extra hot macchiato with nutmeg sprinkles drinking time.

I'm on the side of protest. Does that make me a terrorist and a threat to society or just a threat to politicians.

Niall
Thursday 29 September 2005 9.23am
It's following the example of the USA Niall where the police state is seen to be OK as a sacrifice to the 'war on terror' and for some reason, most of the Christian far-right agree that a loss of civil libierties is a small proce to pay.

In the USA now, if you're seen to be protesting against the war the right label people as being un-democratic, which just doesn't make sense!!
Thursday 29 September 2005 11.46am
I've been loads of protests over the past year or so!

Some of them even in SE1.

But yes, it's a minority activity and people think you're slightly (or very) strange for caring so much about anything and - though I wasn't around then - I'm sure it was all much more fun in the '60s.
Tuesday 4 October 2005 3.01pm
Todays Guardian (p27) has a piece on Protest by George Monbiot. It may also be available at Guardian Online - I see also that he has his own Site www.monbiot.com.
Tuesday 4 October 2005 3.26pm
Paul

I'm not sure if I should thank you for that link. Frightening for anyone of an independent disposition.

Makes me think that Britain is much like Stalin's Russia with added white goods.

Niall
Tuesday 4 October 2005 4.06pm
Niall Connolly Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>> I'm on the side of protest. Does that make me a
> terrorist and a threat to society or just a threat
> to politicians.
>
It means you're not paying enough attention to Big Brother and Eastenders, and spending too much time thinking. STOP AT ONCE



[tvfic, if it need be said]



...if you press it, they will come.
Tuesday 4 October 2005 6.21pm
The meeting of the Apathy Society has been cancelled for lack of interest.
Tuesday 4 October 2005 9.14pm
Niall,

I agree with you. I grew up protesting about things in the UK, whether it was cruise missiles, Trident, unemployment, Murdoch sacking 5,000 people when he moved his papers to Wapping, supporting the miners, against the poll tax... the list seems to be endless, especially when I think about the 1980s and early 1990s. I think what has happened in the UK is that Blair has learned from Thatcher that if you have the support of a generally right-wing media, big business and a compliant bunch of well-whipped MPs in the House, you can generally ignore any protest you like. Even if 2 million people jam up the streets of London for over 6 hours to protest against your illegal invasion of Iraq. I'm sure he feels like the general election result was proof he could get away with it - sorry, vindication. [slaps own wrist for lése majesté thoughts]

I'm on the side of protest and freedom of speech too, and increasingly it does seem as though that is being policed as if you were a terrorist. People have been arrested under terrorism laws for protesting about trade fairs selling arms, US bases in Britain, etc. In a law on serious crime passed earlier this year, a provision was slipped in to allow the government to ban all protest within a square kilometre of Parliament. It obviously has a general effect, but it was actually also designed to allow them to evict Brian Haw, who has been protesting about what is going on Iraq 24/7 since before the invasion took place. Fortunately they messed that up, since they didn't draft that part of the law well enough: it was found not to have retrospective effect. Since then there have been attempts to hold picnics in Parliament Square every Sunday. These have been broken up by the police, who are all really nice chaps (and chappesses) really, it's just the laws that the government have passed which are the problem.

I'm sure most people in Britain aren't aware that technically they have been living in a state of emergency since shortly after September 11, 2001. Not 7 July 2005, but 2001. The UK government - the only one in Europe to do - declared that we were all living in a state of emergency, because without doing so, they could not lawfully derogate from parts of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is still in place, as far as I know, the House of Lords judgement back in February on the illegal detention of people notwithstanding.

Back in 1974, Howard Brenton wrote the "The Churchill Play", which is starting to seem quite prescient. I recommend people read it or see it when it is next performed - I saw it in 1988 at the RSC when people were a little concerned about what Mrs T was doing to our civil liberties. Frankly, that was small fry compared to what Blair has done.

So... yes... 'mind how you go'. In the meantime, I've found that the blog Perfect is quite a good place to keep track of these things. More positively, people might want to think about contributing to the POWER inquiry into the future of democratic participation in Britain.
Friday 7 October 2005 12.42am
Another way to counter the apathy, and possibly get fit at the same time:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1586675,00.html

Mind how you go...
Friday 7 October 2005 12.54am
There's a counterpoint to George Monbiot's article in today's Guardian by the McLibel defendants, Helen Steel and Dave Morris. Apparently they are helping organise a Freedom To Protest conference in London on October 23 www.freedomtoprotest.org.uk

Guardian article
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