Grass as a metaphor
I’ve reached the conclusion that the perfect metaphor for the state of British democracy can be found directly opposite the House of Parliament.
Parliament Square, a small patch of grass in the middle of a traffic flow system, adorned with statues of great leaders like Churchill, Lincoln and Mandela, is a traditional site for protest, democracy and free speech.
I’ve always loved being in Parliament Square. If I take colleagues visiting from work — normally Americans — I intentionally travel on the Tube to Westminster. As you walk up the steps from the station you emerge directly under Big Ben and it’s one of those “wow” moments.
I think the grass could act as a perfect metaphor to represent the state of our country for the 99% of us. If the grass is muddy, trampled and stamped upon that might mean that the country is restless and is demanding change.
If the grass is green, lush and peaceful that might mean that things are good and we’re doing OK.
Today Parliament Square is in lockdown. For a month the grass has been fenced off. We are excluded from this most democratic of public spaces by a metal fence as a metaphor for how we are excluded from true democracy.
Meters away from the square, across the busy road in the House of Commons there is a vote today on whether to sell parts of the NHS to corporations. We are excluded from this debate (and who would vote yes, apart from those likely to profit — the 1%) as we are excluded from protesting from the square.
You are not welcome in Parliament Square. It’s closed. Fenced off. Barriers have been erected. Forbidden. You are discouraged to attend, in fact the police will descend on you if you want to participate. Transfer this message, this frequency from the grass to how you feel about your democratic process
Mandela, imprisoned in his memory
In Parliament Square stands a statue of Nelson Mandela, father of free South Africa, activist, campaigner. Leader. Statesman.
In life imprisoned for 27 years for his commitment to protest, for civil rights and for a better life for his countrymen.
In his memory we constructed a statue as tribute to this amazing man… and our leaders have now put him behind bars again.
A statue of Nelson Mandela. Behind bars. In Parliament Square the base of British democracy. What a statement.
There is a void in politics today caused by disinterested politicians that aim to serve the interests of corporations and not the people they swore to represent. How else can you explain trying to sell off our National Health Service?
We are physically excluded from Parliament Square and intellectually excluded from democracy and this creates a gap between the population and mainstream political parties.
Two choices to fill the void
I can suggest two options to fill this void. Firstly you could vote in UKIP. They aim to take disaffected voters and to place MPs in the House of Commons.
Nigel Farage is promising to shake-up the mainstream parties and has got a head-start with two MPs that defected from the Tories.
I really don’t think this is a good solution for the disengagement you feel. UKIP work on a promise of immigration control.
Buy into his story and you are being deceived. Immigrants aren’t the reason this country has the troubles it has — the collusion between corporations and government is the real reason. You are being distracted.
UKIP chose an emotive subject that is easily identifiable by the population to gain power. Immigrants didn’t cause the banking crisis, Immigrants aren’t trying to sell off the NHS and immigrants aren’t drilling into the earths core and causing underground explosions to recklessly extract shale gas.
It’s an illusion to distract you from the biggest heist in our history. The transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1%. Nigel Farage will not represent your interests.
So — what are you doing tonight
My second alternative to fill the void left by disengaged, uninterested politicians is to fix this for yourself.
Take direct action, make your voice heard and engage in the debate.
In Parliament Square this weekend the Occupy Democracy movement are holding a democracy camp to discuss issues that are raised by the people, with the peoples interests at the core
- People before profits
- Environment before profits
- Democracy before profits
Just turn up — for an hour or two and see what is going on, you’ll leave with a different opinion about whats possible.
This is a totally peaceful protest and you’d be made welcome if you come along for an hour. If you are fed up with the political alternatives available to you in the form of Cameron, Clegg and Milliband this is your best bet.
If you aren’t happy with things the way they are or if you think things could be better… Just turn up.
We need a democracy that works for everyone in the UK, not just the wealthy 1%
I’ll see you in Parliament Square at the weekend :-)