'This Ruckus is Sponsored by JobCentrePlus'
Due to a combination of cowardice, claustrophobia and Crohn's disease, I do not react well to being 'kettled' at marches, that increasingly popular police tactic which, in short, involves penning in a group of protesters, waiting until they get pissed off enough at being penned in that tempers fray and stuff starts getting thrown, then piling in with the shields, pepper spray and truncheons. I tend to moan, and/or panic. So the plan today, at least as far as I was concerned, was to get as close to the protest as possible without getting kettled. In this I failed entirely, and me and those I was with were not allowed to leave for three hours. After several attempts at trying to get through the police lines with my new shiny NUJ Press Pass (helpful police comments: 'try the end of the police line', 'dunno, am just calling my boss', 'go up Bartholemew Lane', 'try Lombard St' best of all 'try over there, but it depends who you ask') I eventually got through - the friends I had abandoned got through about 15 minutes later, I presume thanks to the 'breaking of a police line' that the reports have been mentioning.
A good thing too, as apparently, police told two other hacks "You won't see some of (the protesters) until midnight," So, I'm not all that well disposed to the tactic where you reclaim the street by letting the police imprison you in it, but there's something at these marches you don't see at the more well-organised, well-stewarded marches, such as the decidedly Make Poverty History trudge that I participated in on Saturday. The chants are better, the costumes are better, the music is better and, as I.T's photo essay comprehensively proves, the placards are far, far better. 'Harm Bono' and 'You try for ages to destroy capitalism, and then it destroys itself' being my personal highlights. What is interesting is that, today, there was a sense in which four different actions occurred, all of which are like broken parts of a unified movement - and the fact that they all happened on the same day would suggest that they can't stay broken apart for long. Hopefully, we can put something together with the dramatic wit of the 'G20 Meltdown' described above; the determined organisation and use of actual, er, 'tactics' exhibited by the climate camp happening round the corner in Bishopsgate; the stewarding and coherence of the Stop the War march in Trafalgar Square; and the working class direct action of the factory occupation in Enfield, at the other end of town. Together, these could become a genuinely combustible new left.
There has been an enormous amount of speculation in the London press over the last week that bankers would be targeted by protesters, with staff advised to wear Chinos (subtle!) to avoid lynching. Actually, I saw loads of bankers today, and I would be enormously surprised if any of them suffered as much as a Chinese Burn. The most inflammatory (as opposed to alternately boring or scary) moment today for me was a perusal on the way home of the letters page of thelondonpaper, which in its vacuity seems to undeniably speak for the worst elements of working London, and which provided a stunning example of what k-punk describes as 'the resentment of resentment'. Any sense that The City might feel slightly contrite after directly creating the direst financial crisis in 70 years seemed decidedly premature, reading this collection of missives. Some advice for letter writers and those writing the imaginary letters - avoid describing protesters as 'scroungers' when banks have just received the biggest injection of state largesse (or 'taxpayers' money') in world history; don't claim we 'don't understand economics' when it's clear, with your preposterous attempts to prop up an entire economy on finance and property, that you know even less; and don't sneer at the 'unemployed' when your own actions have created a rate of unemployment at 2 million and counting. It rankles, somewhat.
And architecturally speaking, I am enormously disappointed that an opportunity to burn down Number 1 Poultry was wasted.