In this golden age of the “new politics”, it was surprising to see Bristol’s traffic snarled up around the City Centre tonight by a march comprising of what appeared to be “peace marchers”. They did not seem particularly peaceful to me, blocking the road and stopping people getting home from work, getting involved in scuffles with the police and just generally being abusive to anyone who got in their way. Obviously, I chose to get in their way.
Outside the Hippodrome, with the road blocked by several hundred people, I asked a group of them how they felt their foul-mouthed and ill-tempered protest would persuade ordinary working people to back their cause. “Eff off you effing c” came the reply from a man of, I suppose, 30, which was accompanied by much laughter from the man’s friends. I replied that I didn’t know why I was bothering to say anything since none of them had probably done an effing day’s work in their lives. It was at this point a friendly police officer suggested I move on peacefully.
The contradiction is so obvious to me. In one moment, they are chanting against war and the next they are behaving with simmering aggression, far less inclined to pacifism than the politician who has led the opposition to military strikes against ISIS.
I do not take kindly to this sort of thing, but I should know better because this is always the way the far left behave. Even on a peace march, it appeared that half of them wanted a fight. If I hadn’t know better and seen the SWP posters, I might have guessed it was an EDL rally on its way to Easton. The mob was out in force.
I took the kindly police officer’s advice since I had by now seen the red mist and there were rather more, and rather younger, protesters than me and I might not have fared too well in fisticuffs (to say the least).
My conclusion was a little confused. It felt like they were saying we want peace and we will beat the shit out of anyone who doesn’t.
Actually, I had come round to agreeing that there should not be strikes on ISIS targets before I saw the baying mob of “peace protesters”, but with slightly less certainty and conviction than them. I was more dismayed by Cameron’s leaden-tongued words and his Commons performance was only slightly less awful than Corbyn’s. In fact, it was Cameron’s unconvincing case rather than Corbyn’s speaking clock monotone that finally persuaded me. After tonight on the city centre, I am less sure than ever.
My guess is Labour may have lost a couple of hundred more votes from people who would have been extremely hacked off by getting home extremely late from work. It may not have been Corbyn’s fault that the mob was on the streets of Bristol, but Labour’s leader is the most prominent voice and the public face against military action, now and forever, so it’s guilt by association for the the man himself.
Happily, people are still free to protest and march in this country but a noisy rabble who looked like they were out for a fight seemed a very unlikely peace protest tonight in Bristol.