The Truth About the Protests That Are Going to 'Take Down the Government'

Everyone's freaking out that we're on the brink of an insurrection.

by Simon Childs
21 June 2017, 11:43am

Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

Okay guys, this is it, the big one, revolution. The reds are about to storm the palace gates any… second… now. Or at least, that's the impression you'd have if you've been caught up in the hype over numerous protests happening today and in the coming weeks – demonstrations being held around the state opening of parliament today, and people protesting the disaster at Grenfell Tower and the Tories' dealings with the bigoted DUP.

While the protests themselves seem pretty small, that hasn't stopped people projecting their fantasies of demos full of bloodthirsty revolutionaries, seemingly so they can rag on a straw-man hate-figure.

Or maybe I'm wrong and the final scene of V for Vendetta is about to happen.

Day of Rage – 1PM today

With a leaflet urging people to "Shut down London" and "Bring down the government", the "Day of Rage" sounds pretty rowdy. It's organised by the Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary (MFJ), who have done important work protesting things like migrant detention centres.

In a less febrile atmosphere, the activists could have used this sort of hype and it would have been dismissed as just that – hype. But what with the government teetering on the edge of collapse and the commentariat tearing their hair out at the prospect of riots, those angry words seem to have sparked a complete meltdown.

Realistically, they're not a group with a history of causing the kind of chaos that tetchy Twitter-conservatives are worrying about, and the numbers attending look to be small.
Awkwardly for MFJ, The Clement James Centre – which has been helping Grenfell Tower residents – said, "We cannot emphasise enough how against this many of the affected residents we've spoken to are, and they do not want their grief hijacked for any violent or destructive means."

John McDonnell and the People's Assembly – Not one day more #toriesout – 1st July

On Radio 4's Today programme, Nick Robinson spluttered at Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell: "I put it to you that you sound very reasonable when you come on the radio. You talk to [left-wing newspaper] the Morning Star, and you say to people who are at the moment preparing for what's called a day of rage, a day of protest in London. The words they hear you say are not the words you say on Radio 4; they're the words you say to the Morning Star – not legitimate, not got the right to govern. You say you've got nothing to do with these protesters, but you're egging them on, aren't you?"

McDonnell has called for a million people to get on the streets for a demo organised by the People's Assembly on the 1st of July. So far, over 5,000 people have said they're going to turn up. In the past, McDonnell has called the sacking of the Conservative Party HQ at Millbank "the best of our movement". He's not calling for anything that bad-ass this time, saying protests should be peaceful. Backed by the major trade unions, the People's Assembly have a history of fairly placid A to B marches.

Any politician saying politics can manifest itself outside of the studios of Radio 4 is a goddam disgrace in my book.

Stand Up to Racism – Protest the Queen's Speech – No to May/DUP racism and bigotry! – 18:00

Stand Up to Racism is a group with links to the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Once the biggest deal on the far-left, everyone hates the SWP since its handling of a rape scandal. A leading member was accused of rape, and it was dealt with via an internal party "disputes committee" made up largely of his close comrades.

Most people on the left who have a clue will avoid this, which is a bad start when it comes to overthrowing the system.


So there you have it. The reporting of these protests probably says more about a jittery national conversation than anything. With the government this weak, protest movements are thrust into relevance and can probably expect a lot more of this kind of scrutiny. Hopefully this panicky theatre won't detract from the calls for justice from the residents of Grenfell Tower.


theresa may