While I was being chatted up by le FMOTB a couple of weeks ago, Tube workers were striking. And while I was watching fireworks the Fire Brigade had very kindly agreed to not strike. But NUJ journalists at the BBC did, leaving me waking up to The Birds of the Wash instead of the usual drubbing John Humphreys is giving some evasive politician on the Today programme that morning.
On Saturday I was walking home from the city centre and stumbled into an anti-racism, anti-fascism, anti-BNP rally. Then this week, B got herself embroiled in the protests against raising tuition fees, while Harriet Harman mocked Nick Clegg for his outrageous u-turn in deputy Prime Minister’s Questions.
‘Oo,’ I said to my colleague. ‘I wish we worked nearer to Trafalgar Square – I’d be out there with my placard.’
‘Probably a good job we don’t work nearer there – you’d always be out demonstrating,’ he replied.
Maybe not quite, but I get excited when people protest. It means that we feel something collectively. And passionately. It’s one of the good things, I think, about recession and austerity. People aren’t as pacified anymore, because they don’t have the spending power to paper over the cracks of society by shopping.
I’m not an economist, but shopping does seem to ultimately be the offered answer to our woes. If only people would get out and spend ont he high street, buy houses or whatever, then we’d be fine. And we’d forget the things we stand for – like sticking to your word (when you promise to oppose raising tuition fees), or sticking to your agreement (even if it’s going to be expensive in terms of pension costs), or not discriminating against people based on ethnicity, religion, gender, skin tone, or even hair colour.
We couldn’t decide which politicians really stood for to choose them six months ago. But now the things we believe in are becoming clearer. We might not all agree, but at least we’re talking/shouting/smashing windows about it now. And I don’t think we’re happy to take ‘shopping’ as the ultimate answer. There has to be something more to life than that.
But while we decide about what it is – we should at least come up with some entertaining placards, like anti-Tea Party protesting Americans did in the US (courtesy of Buzzfeed)…