Saturday, February 21, 2009

Looming Threat Of The English Mob

More than a fifth of the population of Dublin has taken to the streets in a huge protest against the government's handling of the recession. That should be a wake up call to ministers here.

The threat to stability may come from the traditional lurking menace - the English mob.

In Dublin officially 100,000 people protested in the city centre over the Irish government's handling of economy and pension cutbacks. Unofficially it's put at double that. But that belies the anger and frustration beneath. Ordinary workers did not cause the economic collapse but they were being forced to pay for it.

Protesters, reported by the BBC, were "sick and tired of the way this government conducts itself and what it's doing to this country ... I've worked all my life, never walked out on strike. Instead I've went to work and done my job ... I've a mortgage to pay, I've children to put through school, and now I'm being told I have to take cut back, after cut back, after cut back."

How those views chime with many here.

Here the first signs of a national protest became crystal clear during the construction workers BJ4BW protests which rapidly spread to sympathy walkouts before they fizzled out. That was a relief for a beleaguered government which could order back the riot police and plastic bullet rounds to the arsenal, ready for the next round of civil unrest.

It doesn't take much of a spark to ignite a fire. On the continent and the Irish Republic it's ordinary placid folk who'll take to the streets - farm workers, fishermen, teachers and public servants.

Continental Europe expects and accepts street demonstrations as a way of life. After the Paris riots and those in Germany, president Sarkozy and chancellor Merkel will listen - they do not have a choice.

Here some political commentators and politicians have been quick to seize on recent BNP victories in minor local government by-elections as an apparent rise in nationalism.

But raising the spectre of a nationalist upsurge whether it's from the fascist right or socialist left, however abhorrent that may seem, masks the true threat to stability which always rears its head at times of economic hardship.

An that's the traditional enemy of the State - the English mob - the one thing past governments have put in place overbearing measures to prevent and stamp on.

It's often called the English mob - but now more accurately it should be termed the P*ssed Off Party.

It takes a long while for the normally reserved English temperament to kick in but kick in it can and has done in the past.

During the refinery workers dispute the Orange Party could see these were ordinary working lads worried sick about jobs and how to make ends meet. Any whiff of the BNP was swiftly sent packing.

Take a snap shot of protests in Dublin or on the UK picket lines during the recent protest and you'd be hard pressed to find a hard-liner from the right or left among them. But the constant fear is that the far right and far left will always try to jump on the bandwagon and try to whip up support.

But it isn't a nationalist movement which government fears. It is civil unrest from ordinary folk. The plans for civil disorder were there at the refineries with police dogs, mounted police, riot police and masked officers using the excuse of the appalling weather to hid their true identity from prying eyes.

Those with long enough memories will remember in shame the days when police officers with white shirts suddenly appeared at the pit villages during the miners strike. In those days PC plod wore a blue shirt with white reserved for the Met. The London boys were being bussed up north for a pitched battle.

Then the nation was divided between sympathy for the miners and Thatcher's government.

Today's Dublin protest shows starkly that any such outburst of public anger and frustration is not so clearly polarised and that would make it far more difficult to control, in what is still a long winter of discontent.

Picture: Dublin protest (BBC)

1 comment:

Chris Close said...

On the Kent vote this is a lot more than a protest vote. People are entirely disenchanted with mainstream party politics which appears simply to ignore the concerns and needs of ordinary people so they are turning to voices which are playing tunes which better suit their mood.

It also angers them when Labour/Tory/Lib Dems denigrate them further by not even giving a hearing to the BNP which in turn says to ordinary people their voices will be ignored.

Better to debate than ignore in my view or it will be giving an open door to the BNP.

On the Northeast version of the Politics show, a few weeks ago, a local Labour MP confirmed he had refused to be on the same platform as the BNP rep.

Since Labour are largely responsible for the growth of BNP voters in the North East and the North West due to their perceived desertion of the working classes and their now being seen as the party for Big Business, then this refusal has further alienated poorer working and middle class voters.

For good or bad(I think bad) this has sent people over to the BNP because they feel the BNP are more in touch with them.

I think also the new corruption amongst MEPs will fuel that anti maistream politics feelings that is going around.

Though I do not want to see it, I feel there is a strong chance of one or more MEPs being elected for the BNP and it is entirely the fault of New Labour's lining their pocket and ignoring their baseline Voters.

Mainstream politicians seem not to be aware of how their seemingly corrupt antics are playing with the people who elect them.

Well they are angry, and feel disenfranchised and the BNP have responded in a way which has made ordinary people feel listened to in a way the main parties have collectively failed to respond.

History is cyclical and society is moving towards protectionism and insularity.

I think this may well result in Civil unrest but then again how can anyone blame the people and the BNP are exploiting this to the full.