THERE’S nothing beats a good British protest.
Actually, that’s not quite true. A well-drilled police force, armed with an adequate number of batons, can beat a good British protest.
But that’s not strictly what I meant.
Allow me to rephrase: there are few things in life quite so enjoyable as a big demonstration.
Never been on one myself but I watch them on TV whenever I get the chance and it’s always a rip-roaring good show.
Plenty of action, lots of comedy, minimal intellectual content. Essentially, they tick all the same boxes The Sweeney does.
My favourite characters – from the protests, not from The Sweeney (though that’s Dennis Waterman since you ask) – are the anti-war protesters who end up throwing missiles or the anarchists who organise themselves into regimented battalions.
I find their inherent contradictions somehow charming.
Plus, you have to take your hat off to anyone willing to give dreadlocks a blast, right?
Great haircuts, great, great viewing.
And yet, no, I have never been on a protest.
Never waved a plaque, never marched, never smashed a bank’s window with a ripped- up bollard.
I make no excuses, I own up to it straight.
I am an unproud member of the apathetic generation and I have never yet cared enough about anything to stand around chanting sound bites when I could be sat at home watching Sky Atlantic.
It is in my nature to shrug, and to say, well, sure, I agree with this protest but maybe there’s something in the opposing view too; to wonder, essentially, if maybe bankers should be paid big bonuses (aren’t we all, after all, worth exactly what our bosses would give us?); or to question why people think Topshop should pay more tax than is enshrined in law (do any of us volunteer to pay extra?).
Or – one that popped up this week – to query why a 22-year-old former head boy at Eckington School thinks he has a right to disrupt a budget flight taking working families for a week in the sun?
Jess Bradley and a bunch of enviro-campaigners tied themselves round a wheel of a plane to prevent it taking off.
They call themselves Plane Stupid and, although I know nothing about young Jess, I do know among their members are MPs’ children, viscounts’ offsprings and enough public schoolboys to start a rugger team.
Essentially, if you take their families – and their cars, their private jets, their second homes in Cornwall – out of the equation, you probably cut the country’s carbon emissions by half.
And those contradictions aren’t so charming, because their protests hurt no-one but people with every right to spend a week away while off from work.
Because, while we more or less all agree action needs to be taken on climate change, what idiot thinks the odd delayed flight is going to persuade government and big business – the institutions that matter and can make a difference – to take you seriously?
A pathetic protest that hurt only the powerless.
But I suppose it proves one thing – maybe I’m not so apathetic.
A demonstration against Plane Stupid? Yeah, I’d go on that. As long as there was nothing too good on Sky Atlantic..