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Action on the streets?

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Mark Easton | 12:29 UK time, Monday, 23 February 2009

The anti-globalisation movement may well be hoping the cracks in the capitalist edifice exposed by the downturn will prompt a renaissance for the philosophies which fuelled violent protests for a few years around the millennium (Police fear UK 'summer of rage').

However, activity on websites does not necessarily translate into action on the streets. With the entire economy at grave risk, it is unclear whether anger at the failures of banks, other financial institutions and governments will translate into support for action designed to topple those same bodies.

Last year a meeting of "People's Global Action", the umbrella organisation which claims credit for the wave of international protest against the G8, the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, said that "groups close to the PGA are now looking for new drives to challenge stagnation".

Certainly, a 'movement' with multiple and often contradictory aims saw its momentum fade after the ugly scenes of J18 in the City of London in 1999 and subsequent Mayday protests in Britain. The 'foot-soldiers' shifted their focus on to the anti-war demonstrations following the invasion of Iraq.

That police have identified attempts to exploit the current economic downturn is not a surprise and they will undoubtedly be arguing for greater resources to counter a potential threat to public order. The upcoming meeting of the G20 in London in April has been selected by some activists as a focus for anger. Whether economic anxiety translates into a real desire to destroy capitalism may become evident in the shadow of Canary Wharf this Spring.

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  • 1. At 12:53pm on 23 Feb 2009, U13839844 wrote:

    Oh look, the first public mention of FEAR!!!!!

    Can you feal the fear?

    Its coming near,
    to a city close by.

    If your Polish, black,muslim,working class in fact if you are different to the "dining out classes" you will be punished.

    Dont like capitilism, we will beat you.
    Dont like the iraq war, we will beat you.
    Dont like global warming, we will beat you.
    Dont like the Labour party, oops we will beat you.

    Embrace the fear and feell all warm inside as people not like you get beaten.

    Coming soon to a city near you.

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  • 2. At 1:07pm on 23 Feb 2009, BaggieBoy70 wrote:


    Should people be angry at how policies at home & abroad have shaped the world over the last decade...

    Yes they should. They should be mad as hell.

    I hope there are mass protests but peaceful ones with no over reaction from the police.

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  • 3. At 1:25pm on 23 Feb 2009, Cadire wrote:

    Label protestors as anarchists and troublemakers, and then intimidate them with aggressive policing.

    Grubby tactics from an increasingly out of touch police force.

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  • 4. At 1:26pm on 23 Feb 2009, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    More scare-mongering from the Met I see - is their budget up for revue or something?

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  • 5. At 1:28pm on 23 Feb 2009, midori_no_saru wrote:

    I,m just looking at some of the language in this blog: "...attempts to exploit?" That's a bit of a value judgement that shows bias. "...a desire to destroy capitalism" seems to be an attempt to portray a potential protest as a Manichean split between two alternatives where there is no middle ground. You're either with us, or against us. This kind of polarised view denies us the balanced way forward that is the answer to most of our problems. Protest should be seen as part of a dialectic, not a terminal threat to an established order.

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  • 6. At 1:37pm on 23 Feb 2009, SiriusWonderblast wrote:

    I think the protests will really kick off when the tax burden for all this becomes so crippling no one can bear it, and/or public services grind ot a halt because their isn't enough cash (tax form the dwindling numbe rof tax payers) to pay for it. The Brown economic model - horribly bloated public sector stuffed full of turkeys who won't vote for Christmas - cannot cope , because tax has ot be raised from the private sector and it's workers. The only other way to meet the shortfall is borrowing, and there's only so much of that Brown can do. The correct answer is to cut the bloat, but that means dole queues. What a mess Gordon has created, and he's making it worse with each passing day.

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  • 7. At 1:40pm on 23 Feb 2009, thatotherguy2 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 8. At 2:30pm on 23 Feb 2009, Pete wrote:

    This is yet another thinly vailed attempt by the police to smear protestors - the vast majority of whom believe in peaceful protest.

    At the climate camp protest held last year to campaign against the construction of a new coal power station in Kent, it was widely reported by the police that weapons were found and claimed that a 'minority' were out to cause trouble.

    The 'weapons' seized included a board game, children's jigsaw puzzles, kitchen implements and soap.

    Recently under a freedom of information request, it was revealed that the worst injury sustained by a policeman was a bee sting.

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  • 9. At 4:01pm on 23 Feb 2009, LetsGoFaster wrote:

    Though I can see that it is in the Met's remit to anticipate trouble, I can't help feeling that their headline-grabbing use of apocalyptic words such as 'rage' (even if they are appropriating phrases from elsewhere) will help to precipitate trouble.

    We should expect balance and neutrality from the Police even more than from the media. They are our servants and protectors, not our prison guards.

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  • 10. At 4:01pm on 23 Feb 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    #3 "Label protestors as anarchists and troublemakers, and then intimidate them with aggressive policing.

    Grubby tactics from an increasingly out of touch police force."


    You bet. It's a further entrenchment of the police state by which I mean that police can make up the law as they go along - that's what "giving police powers" is about.

    Now that it is no longer possible to film a policeman without breaking the terrorist laws they can bloomin'-well do what they like without being held to account for any of their behaviour.

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  • 11. At 4:38pm on 23 Feb 2009, jon112uk wrote:

    The 'protesters' lost interest because the police tactics were too effective for their liking.

    Running about and smashing up McDonalds: great fun.

    Standing for hours, surrounded by police: no fun.

    Great work by the police for once.



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  • 12. At 6:29pm on 23 Feb 2009, terry-s wrote:

    I agree with 'LetsGoFaster', and would put it more strongly. Police statements such as the one now reported seem highly irresponsible, and inflammatory in themselves.

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  • 13. At 7:06pm on 23 Feb 2009, thatotherguy2 wrote:

    In the bread and circus world that we live in people get quite enraged by stupid things like the politics of the contestants in Strictly Come Dancing. If that saves small shopkeepers from hooligans taking out their frustrations from a failed financial system then I am all in favour of it. Let us try and not create the climate where it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Good people deserve better. Bad bankers should hide their heads in shame and continue down the track of the reality check where a bonus structure built on a sector taking twice the risks of other industrial sectors to turbo charge profits is now history. Even if you are only earning £17,000 a year if your business went bust you should just be grateful that you have got a job.No wonder people get angry especially those poor retails workers and van manufacturers who don't enjoy quite the same government largesse, while doing very nicely indeed themselves at the tax payers expense. I think that it would help matters if Jaqui Smith and Alistair Darling resigned. To hold such great offices of state and stick the tax payers for extra bunce to fund their rich lifestyles just makes people cross. It would certainly make the collective nation feel a little less cross if they were both to fall on their sword.

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  • 14. At 11:29am on 24 Feb 2009, stevenmccaw wrote:

    Summer of rage! How perceptive. Our politicians have gone too far. For years we have known they lie and deceive us. But now that the truth is comming out of the extent of that deceit, the governement and their media allies are predicting a "summer of rage".

    An attempt to blame "trouble makers" for the position we find ourselves in. No, it is the governement who have brought this about. Forcing the people, against their will, into a EU dictatorship!

    No doubt their plan is to forment further anger, encourage more onto the streets, before using the full extent of our "terrorsim" laws to attack the protestors (who have a right and a duty to defend our freedom).

    This is nothing more than pathetic, and I would not expect anything else from a desperate elite that have been caught red handed, selling out the people to feahter their own nests!

    Lies propaganda and deceit are the order of the day... business as usualy then?

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  • 15. At 12:43pm on 24 Feb 2009, redrobb wrote:

    This and previous Governments contingency plans for any public dissent are well in place. Cs Gas / batons / Shields / water cannons of UK stockpiles have been at their largest ever recorded. Unfortunately any anarchist acts tend to hurt the less well off! and miss their intended targets completely! well most of the time.

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  • 16. At 1:06pm on 24 Feb 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    In a lot of respects they are only preparing us for harder times ahead,I just wonder how far they will go to silence the public and their anger. reading through the posts here brought to mind a few passages from an old book rev 18:1-13. yer i know nut :)

    What will cause trouble is when the banks do fail to live up to the rescue packages put forward to help them, for all that has been done so far seems to be no more than water of a drowning mans back. I know I'm very discontent with the current support of the money/credit situation, knowing that in a few weeks administration is on the cards for myself, still that's redundancy for you, just so glad i rent and don't have the burden of a mortgage to cope with as well.

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  • 17. At 5:37pm on 24 Feb 2009, sniffthehedgehog wrote:

    Our neighbor and his wife are decent people, own a Yaris, have two kids (who attend the local school), shops in the local supermarket ... next weekend he is away at a refresher course in urban crowd control ...

    Last week I attended safety course in Lancashire, the canteen of which looks on to a police equipment storage facility - where 'riot gear' was being dragged out checked, cleaned and 'made ready'.

    Last night I was shown a live on-line 'private' discussion going between serving police officers - one expressed the opinion that they felt sympathy for 'protesters' the other suggested these 'morons' probably deserved it for voting for the wrong party!!

    One officer stated that the previous rioting in Brixton, Toxteth, et al were localised disturbances and well, 'over exaggerated' ... As a precaution the members of some forces are reputedly preparing to cancel or re-arranging their summer holidays - 'Just in case'.

    Don't worry though as one cop pointed out - no matter what govt. gets in we're unlikely to see lay-off's in their particular line of work.

    Skint pensioners, unemployed workers, homeless,
    Her Majesties opposition, peaceful demonstrators, airport protestors, climate change activists, ordinary mums and dads - all threats 'society' needs protection from.

    Anniversary date: 31 April 1990, it's not that long ago




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  • 18. At 07:18am on 25 Feb 2009, all_english wrote:

    the ingredients for some serious civil disorder have rarely been so strong

    To start with we have serious economic distress. People losing their jobs in huge debt etc

    Combine this with the fact that we have a ruling elite seen as corrupt opressive self serving and incompetent who wont ever listen to a word, People have for years been more and more unhappy with the way we are governed

    Thus legitimate channels for the expression of grievances are shut off

    Personally I think its the political class that will be the target for anger since politicians of all stripes are widely hated

    A particular target will be local councils who are widely seen as being determined to extort more and more money through extortionate parking regimes and offer ever worse services in return (fortnightly bin collections) while being determined to interfere ever more in peoples lives as long as it doesnt help anyone


    My money is on some local council putting through some measure that will spark off rioting that will be widely copied

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  • 19. At 1:04pm on 25 Feb 2009, WhiteEnglishProud wrote:

    I am in favour of the nation taking a stand, for too long most people have been complient and subdued. Aceepting the authority and legitimacy of a Government that either did not vote for or voted against.
    Purists will say that if they "had a chance to vote" but did they have a real choice, there's no box that says none of the above represent my views.

    Lets hope the Nation awake's from it slumber and shows the self serving Politicians, Civil Servants, Local Council Cheifs, bankers and who ever else that they will not bare the brunt of there excess any longer.

    Long live the revolution for a truely Democratic England.

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  • 20. At 1:27pm on 25 Feb 2009, WhiteEnglishProud wrote:

    A constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
    Jonathan Adams

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  • 21. At 8:14pm on 25 Feb 2009, BrownbankruptsBrits wrote:

    The entire "British" establishment are guilty of treason and deserve the punishment that befits such a heinous crime.The police who enforce all the illegal "laws" are no better than Mugabe`s thugs.

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  • 22. At 10:26pm on 25 Feb 2009, noitmem80 wrote:

    action on the streets,thats a good idea.
    because by christ i'm angry enough.

    Angry because

    our schools have become so politicised that it is deemed more important to make sure that pupils are aware of equalities dogma than common decency and actually giving a thourgh education.

    our police are crippled by political correctness ,where a victim is just as likely to be arrested as is the criminal, and emergency calls are not attended to for hours

    the present idea of parlimentary democracy is for the government to increase the state ,invading every single part of your life ,whilst stifleing debate with accusations of racism,sexism etc,etc against anyone that dare question them.All the time they distort statistics and blatantly lie and deceive parliament without either the speaker or opposition using any of the legal checks available to make them accountable.

    we now have an explosion of immigration that has resulted in schools where upto 30 languages are spoken by the pupils (except english)Entire towns and cities(oldham,leicester for example) that are due to become "plural" where no one ethnic type is in the majority, and the spector of the white people of this island becoming the minority.

    the plague of political correctness that has been used to control debate and demonise any dissenter opposed to the social engineering that has slowly increased its pace over the last 30 years.the same pc attitutes are used to destroy our identity to the point where it is deemed by some as offensive and indeed racist to fly either the union flag or the cross of St George.

    yes im as angry as hell and despite hoping for the fanciful and painfully gory demise of most of the currant government i'll do nothing.
    Why?
    because im british and just as stunned into apathy as everyone else that that doesn't have a "special interest" axe to grind.

    Feel free to dismiss as little englander racist type,because after all that how you control views that you dont like ....isn't it?

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  • 23. At 03:24am on 26 Feb 2009, martyn500 wrote:

    There are so many people who know how to critisise. They critisise others/intitutions/governments etc. blame blame blame. Can you do a better job?

    Lets have some solutions. lets be constructive.

    I'll start with a simple one...... I think that more visibility of finance would be good in the future. Its far to hidden,secret and complex right now. If people could 'see the money' that in itself would naturally create change.
    Most people havnt got a clue whats going on around them and why should they have, theyve never been told.

    An example... cost of production on price tickets. hmmm this pair of trainers costs 3.60p to make and thay want 120.00.
    imagine the shocking effect that would have. Far more shocking than any protest.

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  • 24. At 10:01am on 26 Feb 2009, terry22kent wrote:

    I am in such a distressed state of mind i cannot comment sensibly on this blogg.

    however to those who indeed are going to take up the challenge and demonstrate ( thats if you are still allowed of course ) I will be joining you.

    from some of the comments here we are to face an army of underworked and overpaid baton weilding thugs and covert cameramen taking pictures for the criminal database.

    if it is now deemed that anyone who dare wish to protest peacefully is considerd a criminal then we might as well behave like one.

    I at present have no criminal convictions I am 55, i now feel thats about to change, so be it, but ive sure had enough of the empty words of MPs from all sides!.

    i am now homeless i look forward to being fed and watered at HMP for the rest of my years as i have sure given up on being a usefull member of this countries soceity.

    as they say " let battle commence "

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  • 25. At 7:01pm on 26 Feb 2009, Midsomer Marple aka EssexBetty wrote:

    I really hope UK citizens will get out of their armchairs and march in peaceful protest this summer - sooner if possible! We've got plenty to protest about.

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  • 26. At 2:28pm on 27 Feb 2009, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    Its funny jack straw is the secretary of state for justice, jack straw was also one of the rebel leaders of the peasants revolt, a sign maybe?

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  • 27. At 10:05pm on 03 Mar 2009, ethicalism wrote:

    mark,
    its not "action on the streets" that we need its "action by the government".

    what has the couple that bought a house two years ago now have a young family and have lost their jobs done wrong?

    the simple answer nothing!
    they have worked hard to provide a sustainable future for their themselves and their family yet government policy is directed to secure huge payoffs and pension funds for failure.

    if they need a loan its now 9.9% if they want to refinance their mortgage it is now more expensive than it was when they bought the house (yet base rates are only 1%).
    banks are sitting on hundreds of billions of pounds of u.k savings paying no return to their depositors yet are profitering from people who need a loan or refinance their mortgage.

    the prime minister wants banks to take a longer term view, well heres their chance.

    why cant the northern rock or lloyds offer fixed savings rates of five or ten years securing a reasonable level of income for hard pressed pensioners.
    the funds could then be directed to provide mortgages fixed for five or ten years and you move on from their.
    the only problem: the model would not generate enough profit for huge salaries and bonuses but it would help to secure a sustainable recovery for the economy.

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