Parliament Square 19


It does not bode well that, while the Queen’s Speech was announcing a rebirth of civil liberty, Brian Haw was being arrested in Parliament Square. This was yet another bad move by the Met. They know Brian very well by now, and are fully aware that he is not a threat to the Queen. It beggars belief that, after they have stared at his every moment for years, they might suddenly think he was storing weapons or using drugs, This was crass and insensitive.

The rest of the Parliament Square “Peace Camp” is quite a different matter. I have not spoken with Brian recently, but I can tell you that it is wrong to presume that he welcomes or trusts all those comparatively fleeting campers who join him in good weather.

My own view is complex. There is, I believe, a genuine difference between the right to protest in Parliament Square – which I strongly support – and the right to live in Parliament Square, which in general I don’t support. Brian’s vigil is different because its maintenance became the only way to maintain the right to protest there under Draconian New Labour legislation. Camps, vigils and occupations have their place in protests. But do I think anybody has the right to pitch tent in Parliament Square and stay for weeks? No, I don’t really.

Public spaces are public, and if you appropriate them to live there, that is a loss to the public.

Actually for me the real scandal of Parliament Square is the sacrifice of this public space to the bloody motor car. It is not a square, it is a horribly busy traffic roundabout. It has been made quite deliberately almost impossible to get past the traffic and on the the green area of the square. None of the many sets of traffic lights has a pedestrian phase allowing you to do that.

Westminster is a disgrace. What should be the great public areas of the country – the Embankments, much of Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, The Mall, Birdcage Walk, Parliament Square – are horrible spaces full of noise, pollution and danger. Cars should be banned from the entire area.

I do hope the mean-minded charges against Brian are thrown out, though I doubt they will be. Another measure announced in the Queen’s Speech was elected police commissioners. Now wouldn’t Brian be a great candidate?


19 thoughts on “Parliament Square

  • Apostate

    Haw has braved physical assaults,police raids and intimidation and still the one-man peace protest continues.

    In the world of hyper-reality created by corporate elite mind control and social engineering over decades it now seems beyond the wit of man to propose that Brian Haw be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    There is clearly no man more deserving.

    Kissinger killed millions and got it;Haw tried to save millions and got nothing.

    Bloated Zionist hack,Nick Cohen launched a blistering attack on Haw three years ago in the run-up to Xmas.Typically he portrayed Brian as a dishevelled conspiracy theorist who should be moved on.

    Needless to add,Cohen got a very special kind of Xmas card from me that year!

    Drop the fat,idle shyster a missive yourselves!

    [email protected]

  • kathz

    I’m worried by the idea, expressed by Boris Johnson, that protestors currently in the square should be moved out of the way in favour of “authorised protests”. I’m unhappy with the idea that only officially authorised protests should be allowed. It’s similar to another statement I heard from the police, when I was involved in a minor anti-war demo against Tony Blair – that protests should take place on the “designated protest area” – at some distance from the meeting hall so as not to cause annoyance to Blair and his supporters. Surely the right to peaceful protest has to be defended even though it’s scruffy, inconvenient, messy, annoying, conducted in a way which seems awkward, and – most importantly – protests for the sake of causes with which I or others don’t agree. I’d rather have camps on every traffic island in central London than an insistance that all protests be “authorised”, take place in “designated areas” and don’t upset MPs, the royals or the tourist trade.

  • brian

    how about making it illegal to protest in parliament square between the hours of 0345 and 0400. Any people or things like tents, camping paraphernalia would be subject to removal during this period. If you feel strongly about something you can come back and protest another time, but you just might be discouraged from trying to live there if your disturbed in the middle of every night.

  • craig

    kathz,

    I know what you mean, but I don’t think that adds up to an absolute right to protest anywhere, anytime and for as long as you like. It is that last bit – for as long as you like – that is the problem here.

  • Ishmael

    Convenient harassment. To do that is an affront to each good living soul in this country. If we had democracy, most of the kids would not have known where Baghdad was. If war is used as a last resort to resolve unresolvable problems how come we still go to war. What a bunch of savages some of us are. If we had democracy certain police officers would be doing porridge. If we had democracy those crooks who helped themselves to public funds would be sacked and maybe even put in prison. If we had democracy those who claim to represent would be tagged and their movements monitored as they pose a greater threat to our security with their dodgy deals, and doing other nations favours. If we had democracy those who’s actions benefit another state would be tried for treason.

    It is unlikely we live in a democracy.

  • Clark

    I spoke to Brian Haw after attending the Fair Votes protest in Smith Square on Saturday 8th May. There were a few tents there then. Brian Haw was scathing of these new arrivals. He said they were alcoholics and drug users, and that they had been encouraged to camp there to provide an excuse to remove him.

    I visited the new camp looking for the ‘Election Meltdown’ people, but was told that they were campaigning elsewhere that day.

    Craig wrote: “What should be the great public areas of the country – […] – are horrible spaces full of noise, pollution and danger”.

    A certain symmetry; we fight wars for the oil to run the cars to make our cities into lesser battlefields –

    machines vs people, machines vs people.

    Respect to Brian Haw.

  • ingo

    Below is what I wrote elsewhere some days back. It looks like there has been a concerted campaign to oust him by adding a few squatters tents to his abode, regretfully, these people have been used to shift him out.

    Brian Haw, anti war demonstrator in Parliament square has been arrested. The police decided to search the camp with sniffer dogs and he protested against it, was put into a restraining position on the ground and cuffed, with m,uch weight applied to his athritic joints.

    No difference from this true blue, yellow tinged, supporters of the war in Iraq then, same old harrassment shown to genuinely concerned people who want to see the war investigated.

    To deny him his crutches and make him feel pain is just that subtle special treatment you would not expect from your usual friendly neighbourhood policeman, after all the man has been living there for years, how can they be so callous, unless of course, they were specifically told what and how to do it.

  • Nick

    Agree on the car issue. See

    Carmageddon: the hidden war between motor cars and people

    http://www.phmovement.org/en/node/218

    There is a silent, ongoing, global war between motor cars and people. It is silent because, though it kills many times more people than armed conflicts and terrorist acts combined, it seldom hits the headlines in the way they do.

  • angrysoba

    I don’t know much about this guy but clearly he shouldn’t have been arrested and it is worrisome that governments will simply make up laws deliberately designed for short-term benefit.

    You do so and you have to live with the consequences of securing these new powers to future governments.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Thanks Craig for your support.

    Thanks Angrysober for your support.

    The Prime-Minister

    The Rt. Hon David Cameron MP

    House of Commons

    London

    SW1A 0AA

    Dear Mr Cameron,

    Greetings from Milton Keynes, the American extension of London. You have succeeded in bringing your party into power with yourself as Prime Minister. I hope you will do a good and responsible job.

    Alarmingly you told us in 2009 that you were in favour of removing long term peace campaigner Brain Haw’s camp from Parliament Square. The BBC website quoted you as saying: ‘The Tory leader said he was in favour of free speech but the square had been turned into a “pretty poor place” and it was time to say “enough is enough.” ‘

    The right to freedom of protest, freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate are long held British traditions. The fact that Brian Haw has been there for 8 years does not mean he should now be removed. Should there be limits to freedom of speech? Surely not. Would you be in favour of closing speaker’s corner in Hyde Park? I would hope not.

    Brian Haw today clocks up over 3,000 days of his peace vigil. He is a sincere man who lives a Spartan lifestyle which would be alien to most MPs with their extravagant expense claims. The fact that he is an embarrassment to the Government is not a reason for his eviction from his legitimate protest.

    Please remember, Mr Cameron, that the war on Iraq was based ENTIRELY ON LIES. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Iraq posed no threat to anyone and now the situation there for most people is simply dreadful with many Baghdad residents still only getting about 3 hours electricity a day, with water often not drinkable and little reconstruction done. There is also the awful refugee situation with some 4.2 million Iraqis displaced both internally and externally (UN figures). Brian Haw told the truth while Tony Blair and George Bush lied.

    I urge you not to have Brian Haw removed from his rightful protest,

    Yours Sincerely,

    Mark Golding

    Chair

    Children of Iraq Association

    [Adapted from an original letter by Paul O’Hanlon]

  • Freeborn

    On an issue of human principle like the need for the Anglo-American MIC and its subsidiaries to desist from killing nearly up to 2 million peiople we, in the STW Coalition, got wiped out.

    They got their war and killed 2m people and we lost the will to live.

    Not so,Brian Haw.

    I cannot express highly enough the admiration I feel for this man.He is a human icon-a beacon of hope.

    If such language now seems utterly archaic and effete then that’s a measure of how far we’ve let the parasitical elite that rules us move toward their goal of enslaving humanity.

    Haw seems to understand what most of the contrinbitors to this blog cannot.

    The war they launched against Iraq was not just against the people who live there-it was AGAINST ALL HUMANITY!

    Just like WW3 will be.

    As for the policemen pictured arresting him-

    YOUR TIME WILL COME!

  • Matt Keefe

    People occupying a place such as Parliament Square in the name of protest might ultimately serve to prevent other people from protesting there on other matters, so there does have to be a limit to people’s occupation of it, but you’re right, a lonely vigil like that made by Mr. Haw is a different matter. How we’d differentiate them in law, I’m not sure.

  • Ruth

    So we now know the coaltion government’s promise ‘to safeguard the right to protest as part of the “new politics” ‘ is nothing but a sham.

    Obviously their need to keep the rebellious hordes of us away from lynching them is paramount.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Matt Keefe, I agree wholeheartedly. How do we differentiate? Through the application by the law enforcement agencies and law courts of thought, judgement, common sense and the deployment of, firstly, an a priori assumption that peaceful protest is legal in public spaces and secondly that we are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

  • Clark

    Ruth,

    that depends on whether the decision to arrest Brian Haw was politically motivated. Did someone encouraged the ‘peace camp’ protesters to camp in Parliament Square? Westminster Council, maybe? From what I heard there, there was some kind of organisation; there was a ‘no drugs or alcohol’ rule that was being openly flouted. It was inevitable that they’d be removed; they were digging up the grass to plant vegetables.

  • wendy

    one should remember that the lies wrt iraq wont worry the tories since their stance was one of we would have done it anyway .. so no point in appealing to cameron who is hardline as is hague fox et al who are servants of the friends of israel lobby.

    amnesty international in its report published today to be critical of israel and its allies. amnesty report of israels of continuous violation of human rights in the gaza strip and it condemns its ongoing siege .

    “Israeli forces committed war crimes and other serious breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip during a 22-day military offensive codenamed ‘Operation Cast Lead’ that ended on 18 January (2009),”

    they also state :

    “Among other things, they carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians, targeted and killed medical staff, used Palestinian civilians as ‘human shields’, and indiscriminately fired white phosphorus over densely populated residential areas,”

    beyond the above comments amnesty state that the usa/uk and the european union with obstructing international justice by using their positions on the unsc to shield israel from accountability for war crimes it committed during last years gaza war.

    they (amnesty in the report) condemned the blockade as “an outrage,” a “flagrant violation of international law” and a disguise on a collective punishment of gazans .

  • Clark

    Wendy,

    I saw the BBC article on the Amnesty report earlier today. Israel was not mentioned there directly, and UK / US / EU support got a very brief mention, between the upbeat heading “Landmark Decision” and the good news that followed. Shamefully biased reporting, I thought.

  • Clark

    Does anyone know what has happened to Brian Haw? I’ve searched on Google and looked at the parliament-square website, but the latest news I’ve been able to find is from 25th May.

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