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John Rentoul

6a00d8341c565553ef0133ee6c5946970b 320wi 232x300 More squatteryGrateful 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.

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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PANMTJ57XEH7OY76UQABUYN2Z4 Neil

    Why does Mr Rentoul keep pretending that US/UK invasion of Iraq had something vaguely to do with human rights, weapons of mass destruction or some lofty notions of “spreading democracy”, when even Alan Greenspan had to admit “it was all about oil”. I challenge Mr Rentoul to a fact-based debate on that subject at a time and place of his choosing.As to the latter much-parroted claim about democracy, Mr Rentoul should be well aware that real levers of power lie in the boardrooms of multinationals, stock exchanges and military superpowers. What passes for democracy in the UK is in effect the marketing the middle management teams and channelling of dissent into harmless outlets. The likes of Mr Rentoul believe in free speech for establishment hacks and psychiatric care for maverick “conspiracy theorists”. You know those demented individuals who actually doubt Tony Blair’s integrity.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PANMTJ57XEH7OY76UQABUYN2Z4 Neil

    Why does Mr Rentoul keep pretending that US/UK invasion of Iraq had something vaguely to do with human rights, weapons of mass destruction or some lofty notions of “spreading democracy”, when even Alan Greenspan had to admit “it was all about oil”. I challenge Mr Rentoul to a fact-based debate on that subject at a time and place of his choosing.
    As to the latter much-parroted claim about democracy, Mr Rentoul should be well aware that real levers of power lie in the boardrooms of multinationals, stock exchanges and military superpowers. What passes for democracy in the UK is in effect the marketing the middle management teams and channelling of dissent into harmless outlets. The likes of Mr Rentoul believe in free speech for establishment hacks and psychiatric care for maverick “conspiracy theorists”. You know those demented individuals who actually doubt Tony Blair's integrity.


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