As the war of words escalates in the run up to the G20, London is battening down the hatches in expectation of mindless violence on the streets. Thousands of people, from many different groups and as many different countries, are due to descend on the Capital on Thursday, hijacking the many peaceful protests planned for the coming days.
While it is important to safeguard the right to protest, the estimated cost of policing the demonstration has been put at £8 million. Considering the destruction and carnage wrought at past G8 and G20 meetings – and the circumstances and location of this one – that is likely to be a very conservative estimate. Some protesters are planning to block roadways, not only incredibly dangerous, but by forcing commuters to stay at home, incurring yet further costs. Others are openly targeting well known buildings and public property. It is ironic that those who plan to protest violently against the waste and greed generated by the banking and political system are set to cost the innocent taxpayer and thousands of ordinary businesses millions of pounds. But of course, such people are not coming to London to protest about banking crises or global justice. They are wreckers, nothing else. Self-indulgent and completely unconcerned with the real issues which many conscientious people will be peacefully protesting about on Thurday.
The Evening Standard reported yesterday that ‘anarchists’ plan to use the peaceful protests to storm city banks. This exemplifies the attitude of the violent protesters many of those who work in banks aren’t actually bankers, and most are completely powerless within the system. These people are not responsible for the credit crunch, they are ordinary people struggling to make a living and deal with the repercussions of the credit crunch, just as most of us are.
The protesters are right in one sense though; banking doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and the collapse in the financial system was also down to failures in policy, not only in our country but most of the rich world. Politicians and bankers are equally to blame. However, I’m unclear as to what the protestors expect to gain from their demonstration; global justice, retribution? Saying that, it is hard to see what the G20 leaders hope to achieve. Notions of a global currency are not just unrealistic, they are ludicrous. Global poverty hasn’t been solved after the past dozen or so such meetings, so perhaps these aren’t the people to deliver it now. Likewise, unless every person in the world contributes to prevent climate change, the lofty words of 20 world leaders, or the destructive efforts of a few thousand people in the streets around the ExCel centre, will make little difference. As for ‘bringing down the capitalist system’, I would like to know what they expect to replace it with. Anarchy is unlikely to solve either climate change or world poverty.
As the largest number of world leaders since the first general assembly on the United Nations in 1946 descend on London in an attempt to find resolution to the global credit crunch, it’s a shame that their deliberations, and the peaceful protests of the many thousands assembled, will be overshadowed by the thuggish violence of a few.