Monday, October 23, 2006

How To Protest

As I've mentioned before, I was on the Glasgow march against the war in Iraq on February 15th 2003, a day I remember with cynicism and infinite weariness.

I'm not sure what was worse - the fact that the entire affair was absolutely pointless, given that war was a grim inevitability, or the brutal, skull-splitting hangover I was suffering from.

Listening to political visionaries such as Tommy Sheridan and John Swinney rail against invasion while just a few hundred yards away a Labour Party conference resolutely stuck their collective fingers in their ears and began humming loudly - now, that was a wonderful lesson in Parliamentary democracy.

"Ah la la la, a-bombing we shall go!" they sang, gaily conga-dancing their way over the precipice and into the abyss, egged on by dimwits, toadies and fat Tory arseholes.

And here we are. Still, if it taught me nothing else, it taught me how not to protest -

Rule 1: Silly costumes impress no-one bar your friends, and even they privately think you're an idiot.

Rule 2: "Give Peace a Chance" may have been a noble anthem in 1973.

In 2006, let alone 2003, playing "Bullet in The Head" through a PA will attract justifiable jeers of "fuck off, Granddad!".

It's no exaggeration to say that, just one more Lennon chorus and I would've been begging the police snipers to shoot me.

Rule 3: By all means show up in numbers, but if your banner doesn't double as a pike and you don't have onagers and mangonels in the boot of your car, you're part of the problem.

No, for a protest to really fire the imagination and stir dread in the heart of the powerful, I suggest showing up in a tank, like today's rioters in Budapest, Hungary.

I'm not sure whether it's the 100mm tank gun, 120mm armour or the machine guns that make it so intimidating, but there's something about a tank that really makes the police sit up and take notice.

Do we think that driving that through the front door of the Labour Party conference while police sniper rounds pinged harmlessly off the turret might have proved more effective than waving effigies?

It might not have stopped the war, but nobody could have faulted us for effort.

Po-faced Commemoration of History Alert!

I see that the muscular liberals are gravely saluting the crushed dream, not to mention the crushed people, of the 1956 Hungarian revolt against the Soviet Union. Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of that terrible event.

If nobody minds, I'd like to apologise on behalf of The Left for this singularly unpleasant episode.

It may have occurred more than twenty years before I was born, but I can't help feeling that my opposition our recent wars of liberation somehow makes me complicit in, if not directly responsible for, the crimes of totalitarian Communism.

So, my decent left friends, I salute your boundless honesty in commemorating this date in an entirely non-political manner. Your commitment to free and rational debate has not gone unnoticed.

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