Following the No More Austerity demonstration in London on the 21st of June there was surprisingly little news coverage. Some claimed there was a blackout. Whilst I am not amongst those who believe there was a blackout, I do believe that it is very naive to not consider the possibility. Anyone oblivious to the reality of media driving public opinion has neither studied history, nor marketing, nor psychology, nor ever seen Fox News.
What I found more surprising, however, were the scathing opinions of people who are supposedly left wing Labour voters. Following an article in The New Statesmen, there were facebook discussions that exposed a lot of people as nothing more than pessimistic, apathetic defeatists. The opinions of many supposedly left wing people included:
- The people who marched are just whiners.
- The people who marched probably don't vote.
- The people who marched should just vote differently next time or form their own political parties.
- Demonstrating makes the left look like squabbling lunatics.
- Marching is antiquated and there is no room for it in the modern era.
Calling people who are motivated enough to take a stand and voice their opinions in a peaceable, public demonstration "whiners" blows my mind. A "whiner" does nothing but moan. A protester exercises their democratic right.
I think you would have struggled to find anyone in that march who was eligible but did not vote in the last election. These were political minded people with agendas who take their vote seriously. To say that the people should "just vote differently" suggests that anyone marching had voted for the government now in power. In fact, a disgustingly small percentage of the population voted for this government, as I previously explored in my post about the strikes. As for forming new political parties.... well that is precisely what Left Unity has done! In fact, had it none been for that march, I would never have heard of Left Unity, a left wing political party born out of a need for the left to put their individual differences aside and unite against the right.
My personal favourite, however, was the idea that marching, protesting, strikes, etc. don't work in the modern era. These words make me embarrassed of my own generation! A generation of instant gratification with absolutely no sticktoittiveness. Do you think Rosa Parks sat in the white section of a bus and that was segregation in the American south ended? Do you think women won suffrage with one well-mannered public demonstration? Do you think gays and lesbians are now able to legally get married only because of an annual gay pride parade? You have an awful lot to learn about the persistent nature of the people fighting for equality in this world. Protesting is a process and a perpetual mindset.... not a one-off way to spend a weekend. Do you know how good we have it protesting in this day and age? Historically speaking, it's a fairly novel thing that we are now able to strike and protest without bloodshed and death!
Do they work? No.... they usually don't. Not in singular instances. It is the collective affect. It's the hive of activity that all the protesters experience which spurs us on to fight again the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. You know a secret that the most successful, right wing, capitalist people know which you don't? Failure is a huge part of success. Not just failure... repeated failure!
Has the protesting and the strikes from 10 July had an affect? Oh, I rather think they did! One of the biggest themes throughout both the No More Austerity march and the strikes on 10 July was a demand for the removal of Michael Gove as Education Minister. Today, it was announced that Michael Gove was demoted to chief whip, and Elizabeth Truss, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare (who had proposed some incredibly heinous ideas about putting 2-year-olds in 12-hour school sessions) was made the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Michael Gove was replaced by Nicky Morgan who is expected to be a "more conciliatory figure who will “reach out” to teaching unions as they threaten more strikes like the one staged last week."
TyLean Polley is an avant-garde recording artist. You can get a free download of her music at TyLeanPolley.com