Grateful for Archie Bland’s clarification of the argument about the squatter camp in Parliament Square. He replies to my post of yesterday, and in essence the difference between us seems to be that he says, “They might as well,” and I say, “I don’t see why.”
Two minor pedantries. The Palace of Westminster is not the “mother of parliaments”; that is England. And Brian Haw (right) did not start his rubbish pile in protest against the Iraq war, but against the sanctions against Iraq that preceded it, the failure of which was one of the causes of the invasion.
But I disagree with Archie about tourists and MPs. Contrary to his implication, I think MPs have been tolerant to the point of pusillanimity of the nonsense on their doorstep. It doesn’t actually inconvenience them, except when that foolish woman gets on the megaphone, which is a distressing case of noise pollution. (It is notable that it is Boris Johnson, the mayor, with a responsibility for the good name of London, who is finally acting.)
But I am not snobbish about tourists, even when they get in the way, except when they take flash photographs of Big Ben (I once saw an American tourist in Israel take flash photos of the Moon). And I would rather give priority to visitors, who have often come a long way to see a historic place and who are passing through, rather than to a self-selected bunch of the self-obsessed who take up public space and litter it with their yurts.
When there is no issue of the principle of free speech at stake, which Archie seems to accept that there is not.Tagged in: Brian Haw, civil liberties
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