Pack some sandwiches and fill a flask: Britain’s middle-aged people must take to the streets and peacefully protest
The UK general election result is a huge nuisance. I’m in my forties and thought — misguided this, I know — that I had already done my bit, thought I was finished with marching and could now just sign the occasional e-petition and largely leave the younger folk to keep the politicos in check. But no. Messrs Cameron, Osborne, Crosby, Murdoch & Dacre, you’ve jolly well ruined several of my weekends for the next five years.
I’m at a stage of life where my hard-earned Saturday afternoons should be spent browsing in garden centres or catching up with BBC2 drama serials. Instead, I’ll now have to traipse painfully slowly up Whitehall with several thousand others while someone blows a whistle three inches away from my ear, probably finishing off the upper frequencies of my hearing once and for all.
I hate being in crowded places, I never go to festivals and I get back pain if I have to stand for more than an hour or two. I want to be sticking the kettle on, not getting stuck in a Police kettle. But that’s the risk I’m going to have to take.
Dear government, up with your nonsense I can no longer put. Others have eloquently catalogued the issues we’re fighting on, and I make no attempt to do that here. My claim is simply that my generation has a vital role to play in the protest movement, and must not leave the young to fight this battle on their own.
I could just sit at home and keep on with the e-petitions, so why do I feel the need to march? Well, clicktivism just seems to be too easy for those with power to ignore. I know Facebook and Twitter can have some impact, but there’s an extent to which social media is just a playground given to a child in the hope that the child will run around and use up all its energy so that the grown-ups can get some peace. We’re the child, and the establishment are the grown-ups.
What’s more, a huge chunk of the print and broadcast media in the UK will, given the slightest opportunity, willfully misportray a lawful public demonstration — a march or gathering — as a carnival of mindless thuggery. In fact, the vast majority of participants at such events are, of course, peaceful and well-intentioned.
To try to resist the media’s distortion of protest events, we — the unremarkable, middle-aged, M&S fleece-wearing section of society— must make ourselves visible.
To fight the injustices that have been, and will be, meted out by this government, we — the thermos-flask-and-Tupperware brigade — must make a good-humoured but determined nuisance of ourselves. We must add our weight gently but persistently to a campaign led by the generation behind us — a generation that is, quite understandably, apoplectic with rage. We turned up in our millions for the anti-war, anti-Blair marches, and we can do it again.
People of a certain age bracket, don your walking boots, re-purpose that for-sale sign as a placard, perhaps even invest in one of those walking sticks that can be turned into a seat (you might need a rest). This government is about to see increased representation of a certain type of protestor: one that doesn’t look so dissimilar to itself.