Monday, March 28, 2011

Keep calm and bend over.

Here are a few pics I grabbed with my phone on the 26th March demonstration in London.

Before the big day, there were a fair few voices arguing that nothing would be achieved by demonstrating, and a lot of the post-match analysis is questioning the wisdom of calling / addressing a demonstration in the first place when the whole thing can (er.... will) be hi-jacked by people who have different ideas of how to get things done.

A lot of this came from within Labour circles and within a media who were quite focussed on whether the day would prove to be an asset or a liability for Labour in the great Kremlinologists obsession with Westminster politics.

As if it were the only game in town.

It isn't. The TUC may have called and stewarded the march, but there were dozens of conflicting agendas on display on the day. In many senses, it wasn't the various shades of dissent that hi-jacked the coherent day at all, but the other way around.

A pluralistic and inchoate rejection of the Coalition cuts programme was partially hi-jacked by Ed Miliband and the TUC (is that Serwotka's Oppose All Cuts faction or the mainstream 'careful now!' voice?)

There was a time that the least-worst argument on offer was that politics could be a narrative that could be choreographed and disciplined. There there there was some kind of argumentation space that could be annexed if a fairly small number of media arbiters chose to adopt your line instead of the other one that was on offer.

I don't think that this was ever a really accurate outline of how politics works, but today it's no longer the superficial shoe-in that it once was. It's not - as Philip Collins said (behind The Times paywall on Friday) that there was a need for slam-dunk arguments and firm leadership.

Strategically, an emotionally literate left needs more days like Saturday and fewer episodes of the obsessive tactical focus that has characterised our politics since 1994. Aside from the handful of people injured by some of the naughtier protesters, nothing that happened on Saturday did anyone any harm.