Protest is about right to protest

Tent city: Occupy Sheffield protest.
Tent city: Occupy Sheffield protest.
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THE city centre looks particularly proud in the strong winter sunshine we have enjoyed of late.

The clean lines of the new street furniture and stylish paving is picked out in light and shade that is a pleasure to see.

But walk down Fargate and turn the corner and the effect simply slips away.

For the Occupy Sheffield eyesore is still there.

Blue plastic flaps listlessly in the breeze, grubby tents rub alongside each other.

Do you agree with me that it is about time that the tent poles were toppled and the handful of occupants stopped Occupying.

I can’t understand why there has been so much reluctance to sort out this and other Occupy protests.

The issue is quite simple. This is not a camp site (in the same way that other Occupy locations are not camp sites).

The people encamped there have no right to be there.

And if you have no right to something, then you should be left in no doubt of your standing on the issue.

Of course, it is all down to the claim that the Occupiers have won the moral argument.

They are standing up for the little man against big business.

They are campaigning against those who have everything (and continue to reward themselves with even more) but have such little regard for those who have little.

They are raising our awareness that the financial sector has got too big for its boots.

However, someone should tell these protesters that two wrongs never made a right.

Yes, it is a rotten old world. But will sleeping in a pop-up tent outside a cathedral bring down capitalism?

Will it really make bankers give back their bonuses or, better yet, pop over to a council estate and give an endowment to a single mother?

I am sorry to say, but that is naïve, simplistic, self-indulgent twaddle.

All that has happened is that the protest has become a protest over the right to protest.

And that is all it ever would have become.

Some self-centred, self-serving merry-go-round which has long lost sight of the unachievable aims it once embraced – if, that is, the Occupiers ever managed to reach a consensus of what they wanted and when they wanted it.

It had its moment.

The Occupy movement made some people sit up and take notice.

But after that?

Well, we went home to enjoy Christmas.

Then, when we came back, the tents and the protesters were still there.

Although now they are a bit muckier and more bedraggled.

And still without a legal leg to stand on.

While the lawyers indulge themselves in splitting hairs over the rights and wrongs of public disorder, everybody seems to be hiding from one inescapable and unchallangeable fact.

The Occupiers have no right to be where they are. None whatsoever.

And that is where the authorities have let us all down.

They should stand up for the rules and regulations and laws which give our actions edges and limits.

Without those we are doomed.