I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many middle class people at a demo in my life. The Take Back Parliament demonstration in London today was hastily called by a group that appears to be aligned with the Lib Dems. Why do I say this? There were some people there who looked as though they were organizing and were wearing Lib Dem stickers. Billy Bragg was there and I should point out that Bragg voted Lib Dem in this election because he “liked their manifesto”. This is odd, given the fact that when he was campaigning against the BNP in Barking he claimed that “democratic socialism was the answer”. However, it was good to see him there. But there was a total absence of the SWP or any of the other left groups that I’m used to seeing at marches. It feels odd.
I was interviewed by a camera crew who claimed to be recording the demo for posterity. I gave them my views but stopped short of demanding an end to the monarchy. A woman I met there told me that she’d seen the demo publicized in the Daily Mail. This was after I let her know my feelings about that paper.
So we decamped from Trafalgar Square and marched down Whitehall. I rode my bike instead, as I’d cycled to the demo. While on Whitehall, I noticed that there was a bit of an altercation between some anticapitalist protesters holding a large banner which read “CAPITALISM ISN’T WORKING” (a play on the infamous Tory campaign poster of 1979) and a woman, who looked like one of the demo’s organizers, told them that they were ‘hijacking’ the demo. I wonder how she’d have dealt with the SWP? They replied by saying that they were on the same side. I tried to argue with the woman but she moved out of earshot as I attempted to manoeuvre my bike around the marchers. I also noticed that one of the anti-capitalist confronted Billy Bragg who more or less, repeated the line of the woman. They eventually patched up their differences.
Sky News’ bit of fluff, Kay Burley, was subjected to ridicule as we passed the various telly OB studios on College Green. Burley is probably one of the most hated faces on Sky News. Her lightweight approach and her sensationalistic interviewing style means that whenever she is anchor, the news is reduced to its base elements (check out her interview with the unfortunate Peter Andre). Murdoch tried to terrify the voters into siding with the Tories…it partly worked. The Tories are close to power but not close enough, they need Clegg but the Tories won’t budge on electoral reform, which is what this demo was all about.
We end the march at the steps of Transport House, the home of ACAS where a meeting between the Tory team and the Lib Dems is taking place. The crowd call for Clegg to appear and after some time, he emerges from the building to greet the demonstrators…but he gives us nothing. The majority of the crowd seem content with this and being to melt away…but I feel distinctly cheated. It also rams home the point that most of the marchers on this demo are probably first-timers and not used to this sort of thing.