Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Three kinds of protestors

At the times I was going in and out of the Conservative conference I have at no time felt physically threatened, though some of the abuse which has been directed at people coming in and out of the conference has sometimes been seriously OTT.

("Tory scum" was actually the mildest of the insults which was hurled at people by a certain lunatic fringe.)

On the basis of what I saw the substantial police presence were doing an extremely good job trying to keep everyone safe and able to go about their lawful business. But apparently at other stages things went well beyond shouting.

At least three journalists were spat at or subjected to very threatening behaviour.

One of the journalists who was spat at by anti-Tory demonstrators was Channel Four news correspondent Michael Crick.

And anyone who doesn't know who Michael Crick is, or that he's done more political damage to certain Tory politicians such as Jeffrey Archer than every anti-Tory demonstrator in Manchester this week put together, has not been paying much attention to the news for the past couple of decades.

Protestors also spat on the Huffington Post journalist Owen Bennett and both he and Telegraph journalist Kate McCann were then backed into a corner by a crowd of demonstrators shouting that he "deserved it."

Of course I entirely agree with those including fellow journalists and TUC general Secretary Frances O'Grady who condemned the treatment of Michael Crick, Kate McCann and Owen Bennett. I am disappointed they didn't also make the point that it would have also been unacceptable to threat these journalists in that way if they had actually been the delegates to the conference that those who attacked or threatened them presumably thought at first them to be (although they continued to abuse the journalists after finding out that's who they were).

I found the twitter feed of the Guardian's North UK editor, Helen Pidd, to be quite interesting reading. An elderly gentleman advised her to remove her Conservative conference lanyard because "Please, you won't be safe." She refused because she would not be threatened in her own city.

Shortly afterwards she was called "Tory Scum" by a protestor, and after explaining that she was a journalist the protestor replied "Journalist scum, then."

She also responded "there is a certain irony" to someone who had tweeted to her "So Tories accused of ignoring the North but when they turn up they are told to ****** off? Must make sense to someone I suppose."

I called this post "three kinds of protestors."

The first and worst category, who I personally have so far been fortunate enough not to encounter, have been those who are willing to descend to violence and downright intimidation. They are the minority but there are people in this category here.

Many of them appear to call themselves Anarchists but ironically, given that one of their chants has been to compare their opponents with Nazis, they do not appear to have considered how similar their treatment of their opponents is to that of the Sturm Abteilung.

The second category are those whose conduct falls short of violence but who clearly prefer insult to debate, whether it is chanting "Tory Scum" (or worse), or wearing pig's head masks. One could be forgiven for getting the impression that these people are the majority of demonstrators.

The third category are those who came along to express concerns or make a point in a perfectly polite and civilised way. Sadly these people were largely eclipsed by those who were in Manchester to shout, bully and heckle, but they were here too. I tried to speak to as many such people as I could on my way into the conference and took every piece of literature which was offered to me. You never know when someone might be asking you to take something which is worth reading.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I never did quite understand these people, I never did.

I always prefer the simpler method, You know, "this idea is rubbish and its not democratic, here is why............ and here is my better idea that fixes it. At least that has credibility, its gets a lot more attention than yelling at and insulting people, especially when they don't explain.

you know the format : 1. This idea is crap, why is this idea crap? well its because of this, this and this. so this is a better idea.

doesn't that work so much better than yelling "tory scum" or similar.