Monday, 9 March 2009

Lessons for the next generation

A few weeks ago my daughter went to a ‘silent rave’ –a flash mob event in Trafalgar Square - a pretty daft concept maybe but an essentially harmless one. She tried to go to another one but was prevented by a heavy police presence who stopped anyone looking young-ish who looked they might be in the pursuit of some innocuous fun.

Understandably she was pissed off – she asked me what gave the police the right to prevent a peaceful public gathering – and anyway didn’t the public spaces of central London belong to us all anyway ?

Aptly given that this week is the 25th anniversary of the start of the miners’ strike: I found myself reminiscing about the time in the Summer of 1984 when I found myself in a mini-bus from the Miners’ Support Group being stopped on the motorway and turned around as we crossed the Nottinghamshire county line.

It’s an odd feeling when events that you personally took part in enter in history. At the time for anyone who was involved, in any capacity, it was clear that this was an all-out class war. What was less apparent was that the results would have such enormous consequences and that the progressive erosion of our civil liberties can be dated back to that struggle.

So to answer her questions – I said that the police had the right to stop her because our governments are scared of people gathering together and we have not challenged unjust laws because we have been bullied and scared. And no - ‘we’ don’t own the public spaces of central London – that’s down to the Duke Of Westminster and various others.

It’s all part of her education I am afraid.

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