When I watched the scenes from the ‘Remain’ march in London last week I was very impressed, at least until I started wondering what they would achieve.
Does a peaceful march make politicians do anything or does it just give them a platform to say that they fully support peaceful marches in a democracy, safe in the knowledge that it will be forgotten about within a few days?
I am not discrediting those who went to London to demonstrate as I thought it was an admirable thing to do, but you must admit, it has been largely forgotten already.
If you look back in history, it is often only when things get ugly, people in power sit up and listen. Whether it was fighting fascists in Cable Street in the 1930’s or the bloody end to the Republican Marxist ideology in Northern Ireland, demonstrations were tolerated but ignored, until it got nasty.
What I am saying is that governments love a peaceful demonstration and so do large sections of the press who cruelly mock those involved, asking if they haven’t got better things to do?
So how hard does it have to get in Britain before decent people get violent?
Is it when people start losing their jobs? Is it when Civil and Workers Rights disappear? Or is it when minorities start getting persecuted and blamed for economic woes?
Depending on the outcome of the next 5 months, any of the above could happen. Equally, it may all come to nothing amongst a fudged Brexit deal that essentially keeps Britain in the EU in all but name, whilst pacifying sceptics over immigration, the key driver behind the Leave vote.
That is the difference between Britain and other countries, France being a good example; we are simply not good enough rioters. The picture below is from Paris in 1968. The demonstration was against the way aggressive capitalism was driving down wages.
These protests escalated so much that at one stage De Gaulle fled France for several hours as the government stopped functioning and political leaders began preparing for Civil War and a full-scale revolution.
What the French were facing then was a picnic compared to the prospect of the deregulation of workers rights, civil rights, the taxation system and the environment. Of course, that is a doomsday scenario, but I am pretty sure if that was a prospect the French were facing, things would be getting a bit uglier by now.
They would certainly be uglier than a sunny day out in the city featuring banners saying things like, ‘I’m 16, Brexit Stole My Future’. An innocent statement that leaves a kid open to hideous vitriol from seething wannabe fascists on social media but is scoffed at by politicians.
To halt or delay Brexit, if that is really what everyone on the EU side of the argument wants, I think it must get ugly. It would take a blockade of parliament that ends in violence. Then another and another and another. Remember, Moseley’s rapid rise to power was only halted when it got violent and his financiers (The Daily and the Rothermere Family) withdrew support.
However, I’m not sure if the Remain voters have the appetite for riots as privately, a large majority of them think that common sense will prevail and lessons from the past have been learnt well enough for the UK not to slide towards an authoritarian system. They may be right, of course.
Also, nothing is bad enough (yet) to make people resort to the type of civil unrest that can lead to beatings from riot police, potential prison sentences, and the tag of being an ‘Enemy of the State’ in large swathes of the press and social media.
Let’s face it, as it stands at the moment, who is prepared to risk losing their job and home whilst having their face on the front page of ‘The Daily Mail’ with ‘ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY’ or ‘ANARCHIST’ written above it?
In modern Britain, it will only be when we have lost our jobs our homes and our hope, we will pick up a brick and throw it. The prospect bad things is not enough to drive us from our subservient slumber and the risk assessments that take place in our brain that will almost always fall in favour of the law.
The unique problem with Brexit is that if it does collapse into a cataclysmic ‘No Deal’ and economic collapse, throwing a brick will be like finally getting round to repairing your roof in the January wind and rain, when you had originally spotted the damage in June.
Or in my case, finally getting around to servicing my car when it eventually went into ‘restricted performance’ mode.
To be taken seriously, British folk might need to change our habits.
Au Revoir mon ami!