It finally arrived. Despite the fact that I sent my McDemo application form off before my good friend over at I Hate First Great Western, Mark Thomas and his friends have done the business and will protest, on my behalf outside the Department for Transport. (Click see see letter more clearly)A part of me feels bad. The train services recently have been almost adequate, save the frequent greenhouses (sorry, I mean trains) with broken air-con. However, I am glad that this protest is happening. Not solely because it will be registered that a demonstration has taken place (still totally justified given the relatively poor services around Bristol, and the disgraceful fare increases in January). But because it is a total waste of police time to deal with my application (filled out on my behalf by the good people at McDemos for the bargain price of £5).
I hope the reason my application has taken so long is not a misplaced form, rather that it has taken so long to get through the backlog of McDemo applications.
For those that don’t know, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005, makes it illegal to have a peaceful demonstration within a mile or so of parliament without the express permission of the police. People have been arrested for wearing anti-war T-shirts in the area. One woman was arrested for eating a cake with the word PEACE written on it, near the cenotaph. Does this sound like a law of a democratic country where it’s citizens have “freedom of speech”? Quite.
Anyway, Mark Thomas and his friends have been making a mockery of this law, by attempting to waste as much police time as possible. By staging a series of lone demonstrations, for which the police must grant permission, unless they have just cause not to do so. The idea is to highlight the absurdity of this law and regain our true freedom of speech.
So, if you think your train services are a bit naff, head down to the DfT this afternoon between 1245 and 1300 and take part in my demonstration. Unfortunately I’m at work in Cardiff so can’t be there, but if you’re in the area why not head down. Also if you have a burning statement to make outside parliament, or you simply think that the SOCPA bill is absurd, contact McDemos and get your very own demonstration. Free custard creams for pensioners!