Sunday, March 27, 2011


As Jon said on yesterday's march against the cuts, the political placard is a wonderful thing. There were literally thousands of them thronging central London, fabulous home-made efforts that had taken minutes or, in some cases sometimes days to assemble. It's a largely unsung piece of design the slogan on a stick: supremely simple and direct, a real-life speech bubble proclaiming exactly what you think to everyone around.

Even better though for me, were the beautiful official union banners that marched along in front and behind us, huge heraldic coats of arms but with the serpents and suits of armour replaced by factory buildings and post boxes and the names of organisations so often dismissed as archaic or irrelevant in today's casually exploitative world of precarious work.

I was too caught up in events and too busy enjoying the company of friends, brass bands playing Prince Buster and the incredibly good natured crowd to take too many photos but here are a few of those union banners anyway, plus one of a rather excellent cardboard tank - complete with solar-thermal panels attached - that sat in a quiet corner of Hyde Park. It's occupants looked very jolly, happily blasting out some very grubby techno and waving at admirers.

The depressing aftermath passed me by - partly because I left for home around five-ish - so I don't feel qualified to comment on it other than to echo the weary sentiment that the reporting of yesterday's astonishing expression of anger and solidarity has been woeful. A quick scan across the front pages of the papers in my local newsagent this morning was enough to send me home wearied by the cynicism  of the mainstream media.

The appalling right-wing bias of our media is so ingrained that one risks being mocked for naivete for having not fully accepted that this is simply the way the world is. But it needs to be consistently pointed out because the reporting of yesterday's event effectively alienated half a million people, implicitly discrediting their right to protest. That's how bad things have got, when that many people protest and their views are dismissed.

Some people have written some sane assessments of yesterday, so go read them too.


I have a piece expanding on some of the above in Building Design magazine, where I'm this week's guest blogger. I wrote it before some of the more shocking revelations about the arrest of UKUncut's protesters though. I should also point out that I have zero sympathy for the black bloc of anarchists  who hit Piccadilly at the same time as UKUncut, both from a tactical and a political point of view. In short, they fuck it up for everyone else and achieve nothing into the bargain.

More productively, this is an excellent piece by Dan Hind suggesting new ways forward for the opposition movement.


john said...

Talking of numbers and bias, I followed your thread to the Grauniad piece about UK Uncut, to note, as usual, that a clear majority of the comments were anti-march, and quite right-wing.
The comments on the Guardian, a left-ish-wing paper,are usually right-wing; the comments on, say, the Spectator's site are nearly all, er, right-wing.
I don't know what that means.

Jennifer said...

The comments below The Guardian's Comment Is Free pieces are notoriously depressing.

I also worry that the bubbles that we increasingly live in constructed by social networking mean that we are constantly linked to like-minded people and are therefore oblivious to what everyone else is talking/thinking about. It's possible now that you have theoretical access to everyone else in the world with a computer or iphone to never 'talk' to anyone who doesn't share the same tastes as you.

Then again 500,000 is an indisputably large number to get out of bed and spend a day marching across London.

FintonStack said...

I think it's fairly certain the predominance on frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing comments on CiF, and comments boards generally, is largely a product of frothing-at-the-mouth right-wingers being greatly over-represented amongst people-who-genuinely-have-nothing-better-to-do.