The King of Protests sat in his bedchamber pleased with the day’s work. He twirled the left side of his moustache with his forefinger and thumb with maniacal tendencies. The Organisation of Assembled People (OAP) had done everything he wanted. In fact he couldn’t have OAPed for more.
They complied with the royal guards and agreed a route. They created roles for protesters to act as stewards, therefore saving the guards a great deal of money. They organised a series of boring speakers to shout at the protesters when it was over to help sap any anger. They ensured that wagons would be provided to get people away from the protest before they had chance to plan anything that might look like rebellion.
The King mulled over in his mind how his strategy for controlling the OAPs might pan out in the long term. Whilst the speeches talked about a great turn out and how it can now be transferred to communities and workplaces, he knew that chances were that the protesters would just carry on doing what they were doing anyway. So he decided to let them do it all again in another year!
A year passed. The protesters hadn’t made a great deal of headway but the wagons still turned up for the march, although in fewer numbers. There were fewer speakers at the end too but the faithful still turned up. The King was even happier when they accepted the chance for another protest a year later. This time the OAPs thought they’d learned what went wrong before and why numbers had fallen. So they got even better speakers for the rally… and more of them. But it didn’t work. They were slowly defeated.
The numbers for the march were impressive. We need to encourage more people to get involved with doing stuff a little more imaginative and daring than a simple march. I was joking with my headline above but we can’t be saying “End Austerity Now” for too much longer. Like the chant “no ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts” there comes a time when it’s too late.
This demo put pressure on the government. It’s a weak government with a small majority but we can’t think that 250,000 people walking will make much difference. Of course working in our communities and workplaces might. Of course protests aren’t a waste of time. Ultimately direct action is the most likely method to get the goods but a diversity of tactics is useful.