Tough times ahead in Parliament square, as Mayor Johnson and his Tory supporters at Westminster Council endeavour to throw the peace protest campers off, so that everything looks “nice” for the 2o12 Olympics.
Now don’t get me wrong, I actually disagree with Brian Haw and the various groups vaingloriously staking their claims to the moral high-ground via sleeping bags. However the not-so-happy-campers have become a modern landmark. They are a symbol of our freedom to think as we like, and to shake our fist at the politicians who so often ignore what we say.
Boris bloggers are often quick to harp on about his supposed support for “legal demonstrations” and free speech. Yet despite New Labour passing a whole law to get Haws off the green, the tents are still legal. This is simply another attempt to remake London in the image of Henley-on-Thames.
The irony is that the Peace camp may fold of its own accord – it is already split into two camps – one, the “official” camp is led, in Brian Haw’s absence by the strident antipodean Barbara Tucker. Mr Haw is in hospital due to serious illness, and of course we all wish him a speedy recovery, deluded though he is. A second camp, the “Peace Strike Camp” is led by Maria Gallestegui, and both sides are accusing the other of dirty tricks – Barbara Tucker has be filmed threatening legal action to get Gallestegui to leave, and there are accusations that the Peace Strike Camp is some kind of Police sting operation, backed by MI5.
Now time for me to ‘fess up – a few years ago I tried to question Brian Haws as to what he thought he was achieving, and why he had never condemned Saddam Hussein, and didn’t he think that sometimes intervention was justified? Resolutely, the great Peace Enigma stayed silent, staring ahead. I suppose it was the lack of adulation on my part, but no matter. Barbara Tucker the appeared from a tent and harangued me as a white racist, sexist imperialist pig, glorying in war, not fit to question the sainted Brian. More fool me for asking I suppose.
Yet although I have no wish for tea and scones with the lady in question, she does have the legal right to be there. I suppose that I have a tad more sympathy for Maria Gallestegui, who though equally wrong-headed, has possibly had to put up with the sustained abuse that only a zealot of Barbara’s ilk can bring to the party.