[NetBehaviour] Put People First - a good day on the streets of London

EcoTort Theatre ecotort at gn.apc.org
Sun Mar 29 22:08:49 CEST 2009


The mainstream media in Britain are still licking their lips at the 
prospect of violence as the G20 meeting on 2 April approaches. Together 
with the Metropolitan Police, they should really declare a vested 
interest in goading it on, thereby stopping more people from joining the 
Climate Camp <http://climatecamp.org.uk/?q=node/468> in the City of 
London on Financial Fool's Day, 1 April (next Wednesday). With any luck, 
yesterday will encourage more people - as it should - to think otherwise.


    From THE NEW INTERNATIONALIST
    <http://blog.newint.org/editors/2009/03/29/put-people-first/>


    Put People First - a good day on the streets of London

Posted by David Ransom on Sunday, March 29, 2009 Comment on this post 
<http://blog.newint.org/editors/2009/03/29/put-people-first/#comments>

So it came off just fine.

No-one knew quite what to expect, but a crowd of at least 30,000 of us 
gathered along the Thames Embankment, with only occasional glimpses of 
sunshine - and enough hints of cold and impending rain to deter all but 
the hardiest of outdoor activists.

I've been to a fair few of these things before, and I can't off-hand 
think of one that was quite so relaxed and friendly, diverse and big - 
including even the Stop the War demonstrations when they began. We 
pitched the NI banner (and innovation, this) between the National Union 
of Journalists and the giant purple balloons (another innovation, quite 
handy for lifting you up as you tramp along) of Unison, the 
pubic-sector union.

There was an impressive turn-out by trade unions from across the 
country, including Northern Ireland and Scotland. The NGOs and faith 
groups were less obviously in evidence, at least from the banners - but 
then they've never tooled-up for exactly this sort of thing before and 
instead provided flags that fluttered everywhere: Put People First - 
Jobs, Justice, Climate.

A good deal of flapping happened in the bitter wind, especially around 
the notorious wind tunnels made by Big Ben, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square 
and Piccadilly - the NI banner had to be hastily lowered from time to 
time, lacking as it does any wind holes.

This is what I like best about demonstrations. For once, people inhabit 
streets that otherwise are a choking tangle of traffic. Come to think of 
it, joining demonstrations should really become a big tourist attraction 
in London, since you get a much superior view.  I came across two young 
women from France and Poland who had seen the special NI supplement in 
The Big Issue and felt 'inspired' to come along.

The march marked the start of what I fully expect will eventually change 
many people from mere spectators of the meltdown into active 
participants in creating something a good deal better.

What is this likely to be? Well, we had some difficulty with slogans. 
'What do we want?' We're thinking about it. 'When do we want it?' As 
soon as possible, if you don't mind.

In fact, as the current issue of the NI suggests, there's a pretty 
convincing 'manifesto' long in the making. My colleague Vanessa Baird 
and I are currently putting together a book - due for publication in a 
few months - that will spell it out in a little more detail.

But, on this wonderful day, the question was not so much who has the 
best manifesto as how it will be possible to make a change for the 
better. That means 'politics'; for example, replacing the notion of 
'regulation' as a technical fix with that of 'democratic control', which 
is what 'regulation' really means. And that, in turn, means less of the 
competitive splitting of hairs, more of the participatory contest of ideas.

Anyway, after tramping through the heart of London for three hours we 
arrived too late in Hyde Park to hear much of what were doubtless very 
stirring platform performances.

And then the rain - or rather, the ice - came down. My daughter and I 
headed for a Turkish snack-house just off Oxford Street. Noticing the 
'Put People First Flag' we still carried, they asked how the 
demonstration had gone. Business permitting, they promise to be there 
next time.

Back in Bristol, this morning I went to the local BBC to share 
six-and-a-half minutes of sub-prime live TV time on 'alternatives' with 
an accountant and a very sharp young executive from the 'ethical' 
Triodos Bank. The bank is, it seems, prospering as never before - even 
lending money, to sustainable and fair-trade projects. Not least, the 
executive pointed out, he still has a job.

I tried, in a trice, to present the case for a major investment in green 
and sustainable activities, making useful rather than useless and 
dangerous things. An evidently underwhelmed presenter retorted: 'But 
that doesn't make money.'

He had warned us beforehand that the audience tended to be 'elderly' 
(not unlike myself) and we should therefore avoid using jargon. This 
precluded me from discussing the meaning of money, or of making money 
from money without making anything else at all.

'Put People First' in Bristol may be gathering again soon, and I'll have 
to ask them what they would have said. It's too late now, I'm afraid, at 
least for the BBC, but how about you?

The mainstream media in Britain are still licking their lips at the 
prospect of violence as the G20 meeting on 2 April approaches. Together 
with the Metropolitan Police, they should really declare a vested 
interest in goading it on, thereby stopping more people from joining the 
Climate Camp <http://climatecamp.org.uk/?q=node/468> in the City of 
London on Financial Fool's Day, 1 April (next Wednesday).

With any luck, yesterday will encourage more people - as it should - to 
think otherwise. The next jamboree is, after all, the Copenhagen climate 
conference that begins on 30 November...


*URGENT INSTRUCTIONS(suggestions!) <http://www.ecotort.gn.apc.org>
IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT <http://www.ecotort.gn.apc.org>
OF ANY VIOLENCE OCCURRING <http://www.ecotort.gn.apc.org>
AT THE G20 DEMOS <http://www.ecotort.gn.apc.org>*

*1) everyone who wants to fight,
remain STANDING

2) everyone who wants a PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION
SIT DOWN IMMEDIATELY
AND REMAIN SITTING DOWN
UNTIL THE DISTURBANCE IS OVER...

there are vastly more people
who want a PEACEFUL
and EFFECTIVE DEMONSTRATION,
than there are who want to FIGHT
and get arrested,

is it not true?
*
:-)

and once we are all sat down,
we might as well have a sandwich.....
BRING PLENTY OF SANDWICHES,
and eat them slowly,
we don't want anyone getting indigestion....!




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