Do Protests Work In The UK?

Are we really surprised by the violence during the weekend’s protest in London against government cuts?

There has been much debate on various mediums about the power and value of protesting. People have been predominantly peaceful in their protests for years but to no avail. Iraq is a perfect example.

200 people were arrested out of nearly 500,000 that participated on the March. I am not condoning violent protesting but I do think that we should to focus on why people feel the need to be violent. Could it be because there voice is not being heard? Could it be because people are losing their livelihood, homes and families? Could it be that fear and frustration are behind these violent attacks? It is easy to blame it on troublemakers and hooliganism but harder to acknowledge and deal with the real issues.

I wish that the media would not focus on the vandalism and focus on the march itself and the issues behind them. By focussing on the vandalism, politicians are getting away with skirting issues and not responding to public opinion. Clearly, we have the freedom of speech and to protest, but, are these freedoms just paying lip service to the human rights we think we have?

More so, I get the sense that politicians in the UK get elected and feel democracy ends there. They take on a journey of what I would consider democratic dictatorship. Translated, this means elect me through a voting system and then I will do as I please regardless of public opinion.

Whilst violent protesting is not the answer, peaceful protesting has not provided us with any solutions either. As a tweeter said yesterday, the best way to protest against the banks that have created this mess is to withdraw your money out of them and the whole system would collapse overnight! That would make the politicians pay attention.


4 Comments to “Do Protests Work In The UK?”

  1. Hi Bunty,

    I agree that the media focus too much on the violence and not enough on the issues. In addition to people possibly becoming emotional due to the issues we all know that the police get carried away at demonstrations and the protesters could have been responding to aggression from the very people meant to protect them.

    The political world is becoming inceasingly flimsy and pathetic. I agree with you that we have Animal Farm type democracies with politicians thinking they are above the law, a banking system that answers to no one and governments propping up dictators and doing shady deals with them until it suits.


  2. Hello Bunty,
    I have to say that protest is vital to political and social debate. Mostly this is peaceful, but sometimes violence happens. In (a very few) cases in a democracy, violence can be justified, such as when the Ulster Police led the riots that burned Catholics out of their homes in1968.
    It certainly wasn’t on Saturday. If people doubt that protests make a difference, then they should look how far we have come. Womens Rights, Gay Rights, The Vote, the NHS, Employment Rights, Universal Education. All these were secured by not only political action, but also by protests over long, hard years.
    Change takes time to achieve. It may be years before the harvest the fruits of the seeds we sow now…

  3. Are you sure that all these things happened due to protests though? I think women’s rights were improved by focussed canvassing by privileged (and often brave) women of the 1800s. After the World Wars, it became more and more ridiculous to deny women their rights. Equality in the workplace in the UK however only came about after some female factory workers went on strike in the 70s. There was no such thing as rape within a marriage until 1990s!!! These changes did not occur through protest marches.

    Gay rights were established, I think, due our court system where our judges became increasingly unprepared to interfere in the private consensual sex lives of citizens. There was no equality until the 90s, when Labour lowered the age of consent. Once again, don’t you think that we as a society evolved to find certain aspects of our legal system repugnant?

    The tories are back in power – they cut benefits and reduce pensions and cut services from the public sector. It is what they do. What did everyone expect?

    This protest won’t make any difference at all. Did we go ahead and invade Iraq after the million person march?

  4. It is not protests that I disagree with but my concern is that they are never listened to. Change does take years but when a million people march against Iraq and a half a million march against the cuts, surely the Politicians have to listen.

    In modern day Britain, traditional protests have not worked. Do we have to be cleverer to get our voices heard? Is it through legal systems and through how we choose to spend our money, because the only thing that seems to be of value these days is money.

    I am not saying govt cuts are not necessary in the UK, but I do think that the deficit has provided the Tories with a healthy scapegoat to carry out its ideology. You cannot cull these many jobs and expect to have a healthy economy. George Osborne will be go down in history as the worst Chancellor the UK ever had!

    Thank God we are able to protest and initiate social debate but soon this will wither away if protesting is not acknowledged, heard and sometimes heeded. I don’t want a riotous French system where every decision ends up in violent protests but anger is high in the UK and not everyone voted Tory.


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