I sent my daughter an email regarding her latest diet requirements as she is vegetarian and only seems to eat Fairtraid bamboo shoots and goat’s bread these days. She is coming out for a few days during our fiestas next week. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is still a cause for a holiday break, even if most Spaniards sadly now seem to hate the Catholic Church and all its teachings.
I had a reply from my daughter and found she was completely in shock after an encounter with police violence in Whitehall. Before you read the following account, please note that she is five feet nothing, looks about fourteen but is actually twice that age, and is of very slight build She is as meek as a lamb (in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if she phoned me one day to say she had been chased by a lamb). She is not given to political activity or protest normally, but felt she should support the student fees protest as she lives nearby in Lambeth and is paying her own fees on a film-making course at Goldmiths College. Here is what happened:
“I innocently and rather all too quickly got caught up at the front of a riot police line physically throwing me about, just because I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! Suddenly horses charged the width of Whitehall – I managed to throw myself, back pinned against some railings, just in time to look up to see a horse flying by. The next thing I knew a policewoman was grabbing both my shoulders, throwing me out of my safety spot and then it seemed I was tossed from one policeman to the next! I’m still in shock! I was really very frightened.
“…I simply went to join a peaceful, organised protest due to take place at a specific hour outside Downing St, which by that time had been cancelled due to earlier events resulting in the day’s protests taking a course of their own. I was simply trying to find out what was going on, my friend was blocked off at the other end and I was anxious to meet up with them, particularly as I was finding the atmosphere increasingly uneasy, but the police were not interested in being helpful, only aggressive and I found I had no escape. So that was yesterday evening! Poor horses, also…”
I remember situations I experienced in Red Lion square in 1974. When they bring out those horses and go into ‘attack mode’ they seem to behave like the Tsar’s cavalry against Russian peasants. Of course, in Red Lion square they killed Kevin Gately – a student struck by a long police ‘night stick’ wielded by one of these ‘brave cavalry men’ charging a static unarmed crowd. It was the first time they had ever used the tactic of forcing protesters into a closed space – in Red Lion Square – a tactic now called ‘kettling’, and then charging savagely with horses and police wielding batons. It emerged in the Stephen Lawrence enquiry a few years later that the institutional racism of the Metropolitan force was in sympathy with the National Front’s hatred of black people. The Met did their dirty work for them in Red Lion Square.
What my daughter witnessed in Whitehall, her parents had seen in the ‘Lewisham riots’ in 1980. Again, trying to stop the fascists marching through a multi-cultural area, the police went wild on the streets of Lewisham, charging into the crowd at full gallop. Congratulations to the Met: you have now politicised a new generation and shown them the repression of the state when the velvet glove is taken off the iron fist and the crude tactic of extreme violence is used against those who dare to protest.
After my experience with the CRB earlier this year, I have no remaining respect for British policing institutions – even as I now reach the late years of my life and I am broadly conservative in my views (with a small ‘c’) and have little in common with the left, or anarchists and radical lefties who provoke the police. I left any support for student protest behind many years ago!
This peculiarly British kind of repression has not changed in any way since the 1970s, or since the General Strike in 1926, and from the perpective of a modern democratic state – here in Spain – it looks downright primitive. Nick Clegg, you are an arse. Resign! For, after reading the above account from my terrified daughter I am angry. When a state is frightened by protesters, it has lost its way. I also can’t help but notice we have “LIBERALS” in government who are responsible for these Tsarist attacks on students protesting against impossible levels of financial debt. What on earth do they think they are doing? They must resign now.
The image below – simply a photograph of hundreds of shoes after the police had cut a swathe through the students – gives the most graphic indication of the extreme level of violence used. It is lucky nobody was killed. I am aware after my experience of the CRB earlier this year that British state institutions are answerable to nobody. I shall advise my daughter to steer well clear of demonstrations: it is not a country in which such activity is safe. Britain is a banana republic compared with Spain where I live now. Here there is a bill of rights and a written constitution. In Whitehall, you are only allowed to protest if the police decide to let you.
So – it now emerges that the police have lied again: they had denied they did a mounted charge into protesters. Here is the evidence on camera. Read this Guardian news report:
“Bain said she was standing with school and college pupils, some as young as 15, when mounted police advanced. “There were people who fell down who would have been under the horses’ hooves if they hadn’t been grabbed – and these were really young kids as well.”
Jonathan Warren, a freelance photojournalist who was at the protest, said mounted police advanced “with no warning”. “There was a line of police officers, which parted, and then the police on horseback just started charging,” he said, adding that protesters were left “angry and scared”.
Archie Young, 18, who was protesting with his mother, Josa, said he was left bruised following the charges. “I was at the forefront of the crowd of protesters that they charged, yes – my left boot still has a hoofprint-shaped mark on it from where I was trodden on,” he said.
Yesterday a spokesman for the Metropolitan police said: “Police horses were involved in the operation, but that did not involve charging the crowd.” He added: “I dare say they [officers policing the Whitehall demonstrations] were doing the movements the horses do to help control the crowd for everyone’s benefit, which has been a recognised tactic for many, many years, but no, police officers charging the crowd – we would say, ‘No, they did not charge the crowd.'”