I don’t know what they mean by that…

I’m actually quite pleased with our little demo. I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic when we assembled in Trafalgar Square, where various speeches were made of which not one word was audible (note to the various orgs involved: I’d happily spring for some batteries for the loud hailer. I mean, my student union would have got that right, to say nothing of the SWP…). And Morrismen kept invading our space.

I originally thought this was some regrettable, Lucky Jim example of sandal-socks liberalism. Actually no; I’m informed by Tom from Boriswatch that this is actually our mayor’s idea of culture, and actual taxpayers’ money is being paid out to them. Perhaps it’s a sort of defensible-space gambit to make it harder to protest there.

Eventually, Billy Bragg – for it is he! – suggested from the platform that we march to Smith Square and picket the Local Government Association building, where the Lib Dem MPs were meeting. This basically turned the demo around, and at least it stopped him singing; off we went down Whitehall, snarling up the traffic, calling on the recently expanded camp around Brian Haw’s pad, hurling abuse at the Sky News media-slum in College Green, flanked by policemen radioing each other to work out where we were heading.

Smith Square is not roomy; this is why those TV pictures of Tories celebrating outside Central Office always looked like more of a party than they probably were. So the crowd looked bigger and the shouting was louder. And, well, we stuck around yelling until Nick Clegg came out to speak. Again, I couldn’t hear a word, and we actually found out what he said via Twitter on Tom’s BlackBerry. Which made sense, as a major aim of the demo was to get onto the TV streams and RSS feeds the MPs would no doubt be obsessively monitoring.

It wasn’t a big demo, but it was targeted – the LGA building was already staked out by a huge media presence, with the steps of the church opposite festooned with camera crews, reporters buzzing around like flies round shit, and a big ambush of photographers and more TV cams on the LGA’s steps.

This was crucial – as we were arriving during the meeting, there would be nothing for them to report on or film other than the outside of a decentish Queen Anne block, which is better architecture than it is telly. All it took was for the camera gang on the steps to swivel through 180 degrees to get a perfect angry-mob shot, while the ones on the church had a reverse angle view of a crowd apparently besieging the building. Cropping in to emphasise the speakers would tend to compress the scene, giving the impression of a more dramatic confrontation.

The results? Well, we got far more news than I expected; and we seem to have traumatised Kay Burley.

The expression on her face at the beginning is priceless. How dare they! This wasn’t on the autocue! There’s more here; later in the day, I was with Boriswatch and his charming son, Alfie, who seems to be training as a Dickensian pickpocket (he relieved his father of a £10 note with positively Sicilian panache), in the Westminster Arms, which offers its customers two TV screens, one locked on Sky News and the other to BBC News-24. With a bit of neck-craning, you could just about watch both simultaneously in a sort of split brain media experiment – what was telling was that there was more Shannon-information in the BBC feed, far less repetition, the BBC didn’t deliberately misquote Nick Clegg in all its on-screen graphics, and the BBC didn’t insist on informing me every three minutes that Mohamed Al-Fayed had sold a rather unfashionable department store.

Seriously – yesterday of all days, Al-Fayed’s sale of Harrods was in the top three stories on Sky News for at least two hours. And, as a hint, Nick Clegg didn’t say the Tories had a “right to govern”, which they repeatedly asserted as a direct quote; he said that the largest party had the right to be consulted about a coalition first, which is far from the same thing.


  1. Tom

    “this is actually our mayor’s idea of culture, and actual taxpayers’ money is being paid out to them”

    Yes on the first bit. See http://www.london.gov.uk/rhythmoflondon/ for details of what he likes – last year’s big idea was reanimating bandstands, while politically acceptable music is English folk, classical and not a lot else. However, I’m not sure there was much direct funding – Boris is sort of opposed to much money being paid out to anyone, even his friends – I suspect the use of the square (which is Boris’s gift) was as far as it went.

    What’s interesting is whom he *denies* use of the square to, at least for big events. IIRC the Jews got their funding slashed and their venue kicked into St. James Park, but the Morris lot are obviously White Men, even the ones who blacked up for the occasion. Boris’s connection is the St. George’s Day photo-op with Dave the other week:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/dom-joly/dom-joly-aim-javelins-at-morris-men-for-2012-1690463.html?action=Popup&gallery=no

    Actually, you have to remember that Boris has, basically, outsourced his culture policy to Spiked/RCP/Frank Furedi, which explains an awful lot, such as why a lot of it is awful. Helen@Boriswatch is more your expert here, though.

  2. Cian

    There’s also this:

    Somebody just needs to slap her.

    • yorksranter

      This blog considers allusions to violence against women harmful.

      • Cian

        Fair enough. I’d say the same if it was a man. But how about Pie her, which is more what I was getting at. Or even Woland her, and the rest of the media elite.




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