The ‘Hey everybody, look at me!’ school of protest

I’M RATHER losing patience with the self-righteous, self-appointed guardians of our planet who, this morning, caused a number of cancellations at Stansted Airport by illegally entering a restricted area.

“But climate change is more important than obeying laws,” they will no doubt bleat when they appear in some magistrate’s court somewhere in the near future. And on recent evidence, they’ll have a better-than-50 per cent chance of getting off with it.

When did the rules change? When did we decide that vandals breaking into nuclear subs and occupying runways, causing havoc to thousands of ordinary people trying to go about their daily lives, who have no respect for the democratic processes of our country, are suddenly heroes?

As a minister at the Department for Transport I received word one day that I should avoid the main entrance when I returned to the office because some anti-Heathrow protesters had Super Glued themselves to the glass doors. Staff and police were busy using various solvents to release them, I was informed.

“Why?” I asked. After all, there was more than one entrance to the building and if they chose to spend the weekend stuck to a glass door with no food or access to the toilet, shouldn’t we respect their right to demonstrate?

Alas, my view did not prevail.



Filed under Department for Transport, Environment, Society

25 responses to “The ‘Hey everybody, look at me!’ school of protest

  1. davidc

    for once i am in full agreement , let the demonstrators (have they taken part of their annual leave to attend – ho ho) sit in the cold and with luck it will rain and the wind get up !

  2. Chris' Wills

    Firstly I agree with the sentiments you express.

    They are self righteous, but no more so than other groups such as greenpeace, politicians and other activists.

    If they are perceived to have broken the law then due process should follow.
    If convicted by a jury of their peers they should accept the punishment handed down.
    If the jury lets them off then they’ll be freed.

    It’s simple really.

    Remember juries aren’t there to enforce the law, they are there to see that justice is done.

    People have a right to protest; you and I may not agree with their opinion but rather than banning public protest, say outside parliament, as happens now allow it.
    That the protestors, possibly correctly, see no other way to have their voices heard than protesting in such an extreme manner should result in asking the question why do they hold this view in a purportedly free and open society?

    I do like the idea of leaving the protetsor superglued to the front door, ignoring them might be an effective technique.

  3. Is it just this cause Tom or civil protest generally?
    Is there no case where civil protest is appropriate? If there is, then why should you choose which cause people can and can’t protest over?
    You ask: when did the rules change and people could cause widespread disruption because they didn’t like our democratic processes – um, well there were the Chartists for a start. Is that long ago enough for you to consider it established practice?
    And if a court chooses to free someone accused of a crime isn’t that the price you pay for having an independent judiciary?

  4. Bob Jones

    We need to get tough with these people. In other countries going away in a police car would have been the least of their worries.

    Your view is right. In your case they should have left there, why should workers & police have to bother getting them off a surface they glued themselves to?

    The consequences for their eco-terrorism are virtually non-existant, especially with some Judges now part of the lentil-eating muesli-munching hippy brigade. We need tougher sentences … or prevent it before it happens, electric fencing at airports and a shoot-to-injure policy on those who dare break it … something must be done, first it’s these less-harmful eco-warriors next it could be Al Qaeda.

  5. Chris' Wills

    Have you seen the Daily Mash take on it yet Tom?

    “I’m a supporter of WWF and I have a Greenpeace Visa card. If I wasn’t going on holiday I’d be down there with them, but I am, so I really think we should just crush them all with a bulldozer.”

  6. Bob: Lentil eating judges in cahoots with eco Nazis and Al Qaeda – you need to go for a lie down.

  7. I’m both proud and reassured that Britain’s demonstrators are brighter and more competent than Britain’s terrorists (cf Glasgow airport attack).

  8. You’ve got to laugh. One of the protesters against climate change was moaning because it was so cold.

    I reckon they should have turned the water cannon on them.

  9. Stu

    When politicians like yourself start listening to the public who lets face pay your wages, then there would be no need for protests such as this.
    I think you need to accept that speaking as a Labour supporter I am saddened that Labours transport policy is a complete mess, its about time that the government got a grip with the situation and make public transport affordable for all, without action then all the talk about climate change is just waffle

  10. Tom, jokingly: “But climate change is more important than obeying laws”.

    Climate change, or more correctly, selective data to try and incriminate man, is being used to make laws, even to the point of banning patio heaters!

    I agree that these demos are a big nuisance, but I have some empathy only because today’s atheistic/evolution-based education encourages youngsters to care more about the planet than fellow humans.

    As OH says, “I reckon they should have turned the water cannon on them” at least until those ten thousand tasers arrive from America.

    And here’s me thinking that Britain was the main supplier of torture equipment to the world’s dictatorships.

  11. John Walsh

    Please compare with the recent problems we have been having here with the neo-fascist PAD movement in Thailand.

    Most recent estimates talk about one million jobs lost in the tourism industry as a direct result of the airport occupation (in addition to the thousands of jobs lost or to be lost in the manufacutring industry).

    I do remember the Thatcher government and the urging to take to the streets then – it was wrong then and it is wrong now.

  12. wrinkled weasel

    Of course I agree with Tom.

    It’s bloody rent a mob. Nothing to do with free speech and the right to demonstrate peacefully, and everything to do with the same people, the eco-fascists, who want us all to wear plastic shoes and eat Tofu and be nice to foxes, who, by the way, have torn twenty of my chickens to shreds in the past two years, leaving most of them do die a lingering painfull death.

    I am ashamed of you Tom, during the superglue incident you should have ordered the police to force feed them peperamis (from both ends) and driven them to jail in a very large V8 four by four with the air con on. Good grief, what else is power for?

  13. Re: Stewart’s concern about our “evolution-based education”.
    I think I’ll take a system that relies on science and rational argument as opposed to one that uses superstition and stories any day.
    Much as you may wish, we’re out of the dark ages now.

  14. Phil C: “I think I’ll take a system that relies on science and rational argument”

    So do I, it’s called Creation science; proper science; science based on evidence, not purely speculation where only scientists who agree with a certain agenda get funding.

    “Much as you may wish, we’re out of the dark ages now.”

    Best laugh I’ve had all day!

    We have had this discussion on poor Tom’s blog several times before and I would like to help you understand.

    You can add to the discussion on my blog if you think you can handle it!

  15. Just perhaps worth noting that every protest movement gets this kind of reaction – the responses from Tom and others are, for example, uncannily like what used to be said about the suffragettes 100 years ago.

  16. I second donpaskini’s comment.
    I just wish it didn’t have to be pointed out to a Labour MP.

  17. Comparing the trials and suffering of the suffragettes with those of today’s eco-campaigners is ludicrous. The suffragettes, by definition, had no recourse to the ballot box.

  18. After reading a couple of the comments, I wonder sometimes what kind of a country we live in. We have people her advocating the suppression techniques used by many of the “great” dictatorships of the world, and wondering why Plane Stupid demonstrate the way that they do.

    Personally, i would prefer them to club together and put up candidates at the next Westminster Elections in the Heathrow/Gatwick Belt, and maybe against advocates of airport expansion generaly, rather than inconvenience the general public. I do see where they are coming from, and it is always enetertaining to watch Ryan-air fumigate about BAA’s ineptitude, but like you i find it tiresome that Plane Stupid are mainly made up of people who can afford to protest against climate change, and are intent on lecturing us plebs about the evils of aeroplanes and foreign holidays, even though most people need their annual escape.

  19. Rapunzel

    The protester I saw on the Beeb was very young and very earnest. I don’t agree with what they did, but I do remember the passion of believing in something when you are that age. For me it was the bomb, racial equality and poverty. Maybe they too sat up until the early hours debating before planning their protest. I have to admit to a certain gladness that they care about issues even if their actions may have been misguided!

  20. wrinkled weasel

    Suffragettes! What a poor grasp of social history you two have.

    The Suffragettes, as Tom pointed out and as any fool knows, had no vote. They had no democratic franchise. Moreover, they were publicly shunned by the hoi-polloi and the ruling elite. If they can be aligned to any group around today, for sheer public opprobrium, it would be the BNP. There was a strong “anti-suffrage society”. The same rhetoric is used to describe them and the same censure is applied in that they are treated as if their voice is not a valid voice.

    And therein lies a warning. Attitudes change and laws change, sometimes they do a 180 turn. (Homosexuality was illegal, punishable by hard labour a hundred years ago. Now it is illegal to discriminate against them.)

    Today’s shunned are tomorrow’s heroes.

    Unfortunately, the kind of people who protest about climate change, also protest about every single aspect of modern life, Not only that, they want to take away people’s freedom, not extend the boundaries of it. I recommend replacing “suffragette” with “Luddite”. (You’ll be needing to look that up).

  21. Frank Davis

    I’m with Tom on this one, for once.

    Although it doesn’t on the face of it seem to have very much to do with the smoking ban.

  22. Bedd Gelert

    Plane Stupid are fantastic !! They remind me of the two women who exposed your hypocritical and disgusting support of BAe exporting weapons of mass destruction to Indonesia by sabotaging two Hawk trainer aircraft and were acquitted. What they did was for the public good and exposed your fatuous claims to have an ‘ethical foreign policy’ when what that meant was ‘we’ll only sell arms to people we like, as long as they promise not to use it on British people’.

    And Plane Stupid will expose your kant and blatant lies over your climate change policies – signing up to Kyoto one week, deciding to build more airport capacity the next. Sorry, but these fibs are being exposed for the rotten, stinking to high heaven wet fish they are. And about time !!

  23. Frank Davis

    And Plane Stupid will expose your kant

    I doubt that New Labour will ever be that philosophically.inclined.

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