Auserity March / Anti Tory Protests – London, May 2015

Austerity March - London, May 2015So, yesterday we had protests, which started outside Conservative HQ and then made their way towards Downing Street.

The first thing, that I must absolutely, 100% categorically say, is that there is simply no excuse for defacing a war monument – this, in itself, was a disgrace.  Even more so, compounded by the fact that it is the 70th anniversary of VE day.  There never has been, isn’t and never will be the justification for this kind of mindless vandalism.

Secondly, the next thing I think is very disappointing, is the government and the Conservative party using this singular mindless act of vandalism in an attempt to brand ‘the left’ and the Labour movement – this is not what we are about and it is  not the way we go about things.

Austerity March - London, May 2015Having said those things, I firmly, 100% agree with the rights of these people, and any people in our country, to take part in a peaceful protest.  Yes, the Conservatives have won a majority, and yes they will, under all but the most exceptional cirucumstances (for example a successful motion of no confidence) be in power for the next 5 years.  That is not in dispute.  However, there are many people who didn’t vote for the Conservatives and don’t want them in office – that’s fine, and if peaceful protests are organised than that is fair.  I would say exactly the same thing if the tables were turned the other way – if anti-Labour protesters wanted to take part in a peaceful protest following a Labour victory then that is their right.

The rights, freedoms and responsibilities that we have in this country are precious.  Even if we don’t agree, we shouldn’t restrict freedom of expression.

At the time of the Iraq war during one of the terms of New Labour, I didn’t necessarily support the protests that occurred in London – but I wholeheartedly backed the right of that group of people to take part and use their freedom of expression to disagree with what was happening.  That is democracy after all.  Subsequently, we’ve all learnt things about the Iraq war that have and probably continue to change opinions.

People have different views.  The diversity of this country is something that we should be proud of and the freedom of expression and speech is something that I think we should cherish and hold onto for dear life.

Evidently, the next round of cuts and continued austerity is going to hit some people particularly hard – it is therefore unsurprising that people want to take action to ensure that their views are heard – whether that be by protest, petitions, social media or public speaking.

Now, more than ever, we need to try our best to ensure that the politics of hope triumphs over the politics of hate.

Lets move forward, lets not blame Conservative voters, lets try to understand why they voted Conservative and how we can convince them that we have a better plan for a better future for our entire country.