A Very British Dictatorship

On Saturday 7th September, thousands of people gathered in London, the capital city of Great Britain.

Most were tourists and sightseers, or shop workers and customers. A few were drivers, or security guards, or servers and diners, or police and hospital workers.

A tiny percentage were protestors.

There may have been as many as two thousand protestors in total. Maybe more, maybe less.

Of these protestors, a good 90% were protesting against the current government.


Prime Minister Johnson’s decision to prorogue, i.e. suspend, the British Parliament for over a month during a critical phase in Britain’s history was unprecedented. It was widely condemned as anti-democratic, particularly by members of Johnson’s own cabinet barely three months earlier, when Johnson’s now-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested prorogue as a means to force through a No-Deal Brexit.

What followed the prorogue announcement was a lot of behind-closed-doors maneouvring and scheming by politicians on both sides of the debate, as well as mass protests across the country. Pretty much every major city in the United Kingdom (and some outside of it) played host to anti-Prorogue, pro-democracy, #StopTheCoup demonstrations.

The protestors who attended were not universally anti-Brexit. Many were in favour of Britain leaving the EU, but they, as did so many of Johnson’s own party, found this manner of politics, of shutting down a representative democracy, completely unacceptable. And so they took to the streets.

Many protests were immediate, taking place on the evening of the announcement on the 28th of August. They continued over the following days, culminating in the largest protest on Saturday 31st August, in London, outside Downing Street, the home of the Prime Minister.

The protest on the 31st August saw thousands and thousands of pro-democracy protestors fill the roadway of Whitehall outside of Downing Street, carrying placards and chanting and singing and declaring, in one voice, their opposition to Prime Minister Johnson’s plans. A stage and sound system was erected at short notice, and speakers took turns to tell their stories and make themselves heard.

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Pro-Democracy protests on Saturday 31st August. Photo taken from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/06/world/europe/brexit-politicians-voters-johnson.html.

The heart of London, one of the world’s major financial hubs, birthplace of Parliamentary democracy, common law and Kiefer Sutherland, echoed with the unified chants of “Stop the coup!” and “You shut down our Parliament, we shut down your streets!” and “Boris! You liar! Get back on your zipwire!”

The atmosphere was simultaneously electric, joyous, familial, and fierce.

It was also safe.

Police presence was minimal. Police arrived in numbers from around 4pm onwards, as protestors peacefully yet defiantly occupied Trafalgar Square roundabout and shut down traffic. However, interactions with officers remained cordial. Three arrests were made, to chants of “Boo!” from the crowd.

I spoke to the first person to be arrested, a woman I’ll call Rebecca for the sake of her privacy. She was an education professional. She had joined the protest despite her moderate views on Brexit – having been willing to accept leaving the EU with a deal. What brought her onto the streets that day was her outrage and disgust at the use of a lengthy suspension of Parliament to shut down the democratic process.

On the Trafalgar Square roundabout, Rebecca stood in the roadway, blocking the passage of traffic along with hundreds of other protestors.

“If you shut down our Parliament, we shut down your streets.”

The police moved in and asked the protestors to clear the roadway. Rebecca refused, but instead sat down.

A female police officer approached Rebecca and told her that if she did not move, she would be arrested. Rebecca informed the police officer that she understood, but that her place was on that roundabout, in an act of civil disobedience, fighting for her democracy.

The police officer told Rebecca that Prime Minister Johnson was not going to change his mind if Rebecca was arrested. That an arrest record would have lasting repercussions on Rebecca’s life and on her career. The police officer told Rebecca that she could either choose to remain and be arrested, or to leave freely without consequence.

Rebecca asked if she could think about it.

The police officer gave Rebecca a few minutes to consider her situation. When the police officer returned, Rebecca informed her “I’m sorry, but I need to stay here.”

She was then arrested, and released a few hours later without charge.

There was no violence. No threats. No blood fell on the pavements of Whitehall.


On Saturday 7th September, thousands of people gathered in in London, the capital city of Great Britain.

A tiny percentage were protestors.

There may have been as many as two thousand protestors in total. Maybe more, maybe less.

Of these protestors, a good 90% were protesting against the current government.

A bad 10% were protesting against the other 90%.

The pro-democracy, anti-prorogue protests were scheduled for 2.30pm on Saturday. By 11.30am, Whitehall was dominated by a heavy police presence. Over a dozen police vans and probably more than 200 police officers were present well before noon. This was in stark contrast to the previous week, where police presence was barely visible except around the gate to Downing Street, and eventually towards the end of the day.

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Police vans on Whitehall at 11.30am, three hours before the pro-Democracy protests.

In the run-up to the anti-prorogue demonstration, at around 2pm, opposing pro-Brexit, anti-EU protestors were gathered at the exits to tube stations, shouting and screaming at those they identified as being on their way to the anti-prorogue rally. The targets of their aggression included individuals, groups, and families with children. They typically had half-empty glasses of beer in their hands, though according to one police officer, the beer was mostly for show. These were not drunk hooligans.

Turnout for the anti-prorogue demonstration outside Downing Street was low. As the clock neared 2.30pm, pro-Brexit agitators had already infiltrated the pro-democracy crowd. Some had attempted to disrupt proceedings already, others lingered until later.

At 2.35pm, it was announced that the start of the protest was being pushed back to 3.00pm, due to blockages at both end of the road preventing protestors from reaching the gathering point. These blockages were caused by pro-Brexit agitators disturbing the peace, continuing their harassment of pro-democracy protestors and causing the police to intervene, slowing down entry onto Whitehall. Many pro-democracy protestors were turned away and went home in the face of pro-Brexit aggression and intimidation.

At around 2.45pm, pro-Brexit antagonists began hurrying down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square. They chanted “Tommy Robinson” as they went – referencing the far-right founder of the racist organisation the English Defence League. Robinson is also a former member of the fascist British National Party.

These antagonists headed straight down Whitehall towards the pro-Democracy protest, but were intercepted and blocked by a line of police, as can be seen in the video above. They clashed with police for a few moments as, outside Downing Street, pro-Democracy protestors relaxed to the sound of ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’.

After a short span of time, the Tommy Robinson supporters Brexited from their clash with the Metropolitan Police as more officers reinforced the police line. Not long after, speakers at the pro-Democracy rally began their speeches. As can be seen in the video above, pro-Brexit antagonists already in place near the rally began their attempts to agitate the crowd. Police intervened, but not before one Tommy Robinson fan got a literal bloody nose.

Police set up a loose line around the pro-Democracy rally as they opened up Whitehall to traffic, to serve as a barrier between pro-Brexit agitators on the sidelines and the rally in the middle of the road. One antagonist was already inside the crowd and attempted to disrupt proceedings, and was pulled out by police before matters escalated (and before anyone else was hurt).

Speeches continued. Pro-Brexit thugs lingered around the rally talking on their phones, presumably relaying information to other thugs at either end of Whitehall.

The pro-Democracy rally continued undisrupted. Speakers including Diane Abbott, Owen Jones and other prominent pro-Remain voices addressed the crowd passionately. And yes, my language is biased, because I believed in what they were saying. Topics ranged from immigrant rights, anti-racism and anti-hatred, to condemnation of the Tory party and mockery of Boris Johnson, whose short term as Prime Minister had just been marked by successive failures in the Parliament he was about to suspend.

One of the speakers was to be Anna Soubry MP, a Tory rebel who had left her party earlier in 2019 in protest at the Tories’ dedication to Brexit. She did not speak, in the end, or appear at all, and it later emerged that she had cancelled her appearance at the last minute due to threats and intimidation from the same pro-Brexit aggressors who were attempting to shut down the pro-Democracy rally.

It was also made clear that these aggressors were part of the “Democratic Football Lads Alliance” or DFLA – a hard-right, Islamophobic, racist, intolerant splinter gang from the equally appalling Football Lads Alliance (FLA), themselves an offshoot of Tommy Robinson’s English Defence League (EDL), with connections to the militant fascist group Combat 18 and the British National Party.

It’s worth taking that in for a moment. A Member of Parliament and critic of the government was silenced, intentionally, by far-right supporters of that same government.

The same supporters who harassed families on their way to a peaceful rally and who hurled railings at police and who made death threats at pro-Democracy protestors. The same supporters who surrounded and outnumbered small groups of peaceful demonstrators and screamed in the faces of men and women alike.

Even if there is no provable connection between the Tory Party, Boris Johnson, or Dominic Cummings to the DFLA, these thugs were clearly acting to suppress criticism of Johnson and his cabal. And if there is one characteristic of a dictatorship, it is of far-right street gangs intimidating, harassing and silencing opposing political movements.


A few speeches later, further down Whitehall, police officers were hurriedly armouring up. They were pulling on full body armour, legs, arms and torso, and doing so as quickly as they could manage. They then began running down towards Parliament Square, where another group of pro-Brexit, Tommy Robinson-supporting DFLA gang members had broken through the police cordon around their own protest and were now trying to reach the pro-Democracy rally.

They ran as fast as their pasty white legs would carry them, but were again blocked by police a few yards past the Cenotaph – a poignant monument to the cost of hatred and antagonism between European states.

The police formed two lines, one facing down towards Parliament Square, and the other facing the opposite direction, and between these lines the racist assailants were trapped. A handful of DFLA racists attempted to sideline the police and darted down the pavement behind the stone barriers that line the footpath, but were foiled by the heavily-barriered and policed entrance to Downing Street which stood in their way. They sheepishly returned to between the police lines.

Police allowed passage back towards Parliament Square – many tourists and bystanders were also caught between the two lines – but refused access towards Downing Street and the pro-Democracy rally, which, to the best of my knowledge, continued. The pro-Brexit aggressors quickly lost interest as the police further reinforced their lines with more heavily-armoured officers, and they realised that voicing their intolerance mattered less to them than did a few baton-shaped dents in their skulls.

This is where I met Rebecca – sandwiched between the police and surrounded by confused tourists and impotent racists. After her experience last Saturday, Rebecca’s husband had made her promise not to get arrested today, and in a bid to avoid both another another arrest and harassment by bigots, we exited together through the police line towards Parliament Square.

We turned off towards St. James’ Park and then looped back around to Trafalgar Square and the top of Whitehall. Here, the police had formed another line blocking access back down towards Downing Street, and were holding at bay more DFLA gang members.

As Rebecca and I looked on, and debated parting ways and heading home, Max and Nicola, two friends I had met at the previous Saturday’s protest, emerged from the police line, with their friend James in tow. We embraced and reminisced for a moment. I admired Max’s red London Bus body placard and Nicola’s “Dicktator” sign, both decrying Johnson’s anti democratic actions.

The five of us talked quietly with one another, with the police line 40 or 50 yards away, and no other unoccupied police in sight.

With hindsight, this turned out to be an act of negligence on our part.

As we chatted, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded and outnumbered by 8 or 9 DFLA bullies. The circled us and began chanting “Nazi Scum”, along with homophobic and sexist slurs. They screamed in Nicola’s face, berated James continuously and drew attention from other gang members as they did so.

We remained calm. James and Nicola particularly bore the brunt of the harassment, and remained composed despite it all.

One thug came up close behind me and muttered in my ear “I’d move along if I were you, or you’ll end up cut with a stanley knife.”

Another nodded towards my phone as I recorded the incident and said “You know, that won’t protect you.”

Eventually, two police officers intervened and broke the group up. The DFLA attempted to paint us as the instigators, but were broadly ignored.

Nicola and Max headed back towards the police line, followed and harassed and threatened further by the DFLA, and were permitted down Whitehall back towards the pro-Democracy rally. James remained where he was as he spoke with the police. Rebecca made her way back to the tube station as quickly as she could.

Before I left, one DFLA gang member took a photo of me, and said “I’ll bet my network is faster than your network at finding out who you are.”

I left a few moments later.

What struck me later was that at no point did I feel scared during the incident. Uncertain, absolutely, but fear and anxiety didn’t set in until a few minutes later. Immediately, I was more concerned that my phone would run out of battery. As I sat in a Pret to get a drink and recharge my phone, adrenaline faded and fear took a stronger hold.

Max told me that he and Nicola remained with the pro-Democracy rally as they marched up towards Leicester Square. The march was harassed by pro-Brexiters along the way, attempting to circumvent the police escort and start more fights, and spread more terror. The march eventually disbanded, and police advised the protestors to return home in groups to stay safe.

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I was shaken after the incident. I was hit with anxiety and depression. It wasn’t even the threats that were made which upset me. I broke into tears a few times on Sunday as I processed what had happened, and what affected me most was the sheer unfiltered aggression that the DFLA had displayed towards us.

These were not drunkards trying to compensate for their insecurities, and neither were they cornered victims lashing out. They saw that we were vulnerable, saw an opportunity to hurt us, and they took it, for no reason other than the fact that they know nothing but violence. And in the naivety of an extremely sheltered life, I had never really come face-to-face with that kind of bankruptcy of compassion. TV and movies had taught me that villains had complexity and depth – Saturday taught me that there are people, many, many people, who are terrifyingly incapable of anything but hatred, and that disturbed me more than any of the violence I saw that day.

And our experience was not even the most extreme encounter of that day. Many people were hurt, others were terrified into retreat and hiding.

At the end of it all, the headlines all seemed to paint it as though there was violence from both sides. There seemed almost deliberate vagueness on behalf of the media over who was the source of the violence.

But we knew. We were there. We watched as the pro-Brexit cowards inflicted their hatred and their intolerance wherever they could. At parents and children, at police and civilians, at politicians and protestors.


What really hit home was the fact that this collection of white, middle-aged men – and they were all white, middle-aged men – were acting in the interests of other, much wealthier white middle-aged men in government.

The disruption caused by the racists in London that day served only the interests of the Prime Minister, who was in the middle of his attempts to shut down Parliament and circumvent Democracy.

In so many ways, this mirrored aspects of the rise of fascism in Western history, with Brownshirts silencing critics of Hitler’s Nazis, the Squadristi suppressing Mussolini’s socialist opponents, and Moseley’s Blackshirts violently turning on anti-Fascists at the 1934 Olympia rally.

But that is not the picture the media paints.

Neither Prime Minister Johnson nor any of his cabinet have, to the best of my knowledge, condemned the far-right fearmongers on Saturday. If they do, it seems likely it will be a Trumpian “very fine people on both sides.” Although that may just be my cynicism creeping in.


It’s difficult to be sure exactly why Saturday 7th September was so much more violent and disruptive than Saturday 31st August, there are some events which are linked:

  • Prime Minister Johnson’s government refused to rule out breaking the law themselves to force a no-deal Brexit.
  • Prime Minister Johnson defied police impartiality conventions and gave a widely-broadcast political speech in front of a wall of police officers. (The speech was supposed to be about police recruitment.)
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Johnson giving a political speech in front of police recruits, taken from https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/news/106331/boris-johnson-under-fire-using-police

Symbolism is everything. Johnson, in effect, made two dramatic statements:

  • “I am willing to break the law, and the police are on my side.”
  • “The police are on my side, and by extension, on the side of everyone who is politically aligned with me.”

It is unquestionable that these implied statements serve to embolden violent, far-right antagonists who are aligned with Johnson’s public record of racism, misogyny and his determination to force through a no-deal Brexit.

And even if there is no tenable connection between the far-right DFLA and the Conservative Party, they were nonetheless acting in Johnson’s interests by silencing his opposition, deterring opposing protestors and even opposition Members of Parliament.

As I write, the government is broadly announcing its increased funding to the police.

As I write, the Conservative Party twitter feed is full of posts characterising all opposition parties and MPs as “enemies of the people”.

As I write, footage is being shared of Dominic Raab declaring the government’s intent to “test the limits”, i.e. ignore, a law enacted by this Parliament to prevent a No-Deal Brexit.

When Ministers and Prime Ministers proudly announce their intent to break the law, use the police as a political tool, paint their opposition as traitors and allow fascists to bully their opponents into silence…

Well, there’s a word for that.

The word is “Authoritarianism.”

And Authorianism means dictatorship. A system of governance where a posh blonde toff speaks, and the rest of us must obey out of fear.

This may all sound dramatic after just one bad Saturday afternoon in London. But we have an election looming, an election in which turnout will be pivotal, and where the winners will be decided likely by just a handful of contested Parliamentary seats.

And those contested seats could be swung by the kind of localised intimidation and harassment around polling stations that we saw outside Downing Street.

If the DFLA and other far-right groups are willing to suppress critics of the government on behalf of the government, would they not also be willing to suppress the vote in favour of the same government?

I am genuinely concerned that, no matter how many defeats Johnson suffers on the green benches of the Commons, no matter how many legal battles his government loses in the British courts, he will nonetheless do as well as he needs to and retain power past the next election.

And if he does, then he suddenly has a mandate for all of the proroguing, the manipulation of the democratic process, and the silencing of his opposition.

Worse would be a Tory coalition with the Brexit party, and the barefaced racism of Nigel Farage and his benighted followers.

Sadly, I can think of nothing more cynically British than an Etonian dictator, propped up by a lager-swilling Eurosceptic, their will enforced by violent football hooligans.

I Am A Hypocrite And My Cowardice Is Killing My Country

It’s 9:25 in the evening I have just walked back into my flat in Birmingham. At 8:15 this morning I left my flat to get the 8:30 train to London.

I took three placards, and a rucksack full of bottled water, painkillers and a change of clothes.

I took all of that stuff because I had no idea what was going to happen, or what I might get involved in.

And I still managed to disappoint myself.

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I met a friend at London Euston, and we walked together to Green Park, where we met another three friends. We then all walked to Whiteall to join a crowd of thousands of others at the entrance to Downing Street, on which sits No. 10 Downing Street, the home and office of the Prime Minister, Alexander ‘Boris’ de Pfeffel Johnson.

Together, we chanted and sand our protests against Prime Minister Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for more than a month in the lead-up to the Brexit departure date of 31st October.

Our chants weren’t always in sync, nor were they always very loud or very polite, but we chanted and sang our anger through the air, above the barrier railings and through the metal gate which kept us out of sight of the door to No. 10.

A few of my friends left a little after 1pm. Others joined later and stayed for an hour or two. Soon, they had all left, and I remained in the crowd, with a placard in each hand. I led a few chants, joined in many more, sang along to songs like “No one voted for Boris” to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Army’.

Pretty heroic, eh?

I followed the crowd as we started marching down Whitehall, to outside Westminster Palace, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament. We out-chanted an embarrassingly small (less than twenty?) pro-Brexit counter-protest. We danced and swayed and chanted some more to the improvised drumming of a musical protest group.

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Tourists, mostly unconcerned with the dwindling numbers of protestors.

We felt powerful.

I felt powerful.

I felt like I was part of something, something huge and vital and full of furious passion. I felt like we might make a difference, My knees shook with nerves as I led a hundred people in a chant of “When I say ‘Boris’, you say ‘Liar'” but it was exhilirating and intoxicating, especially because everybody had a go at chant leading, at hitting the rhythm of call-and-response. My voice was already hoarse, but I did what I could to keep up, still holding those placards high.

So heroic, right?

By 4pm, that gathering petered out and dispersed. I sat down for the first time in six hours to eat a Boots Meal-Deal wrap, the first food I’d had all day. I took a couple of touristy photos, then got back on my feet and wandered down to the other end of Whitehall.

So goddamn heroic. It’s okay to feel attracted to me right now because of my heroism. You’re only human.

Whitehall was mostly empty by this point. There were a few protestors still standing, but most were wandering home.

At Trafalgar Square, something else was happening. Maybe a couple of hundred protestors were in the roadway of the roundabout, defying the orders of surrounding police to move. I watched for a moment. I was shattered, so I just watched.

Then, as the police started closing in, so did I.

So, so fucking heroic.

 

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Helicopters over Nelson’s Column, as police vans gradually close in from the side, putting the squeeze quite literally on the illegal protest.

I stood with the protestors, held my placards high, and joined in the chant. Stood in the roadway, high-visibility police on all sides, telling us to move or else be arrested. I watched as a middle-aged woman was pulled out of the crowd by eight arresting police officers. I was jostled as the police closed in futher, putting pressure on the protestors to clear the road.

Uuunnng, so, just, so, huh, so heroic.

So anyway, I made a decision that I didn’t want to be arrested and quietly moved back when I was able, to watch from a less criminal distance. I handed my placards over to people who were planning to capitulate a little less than I was, and then I stood and chatted with some other protestors, and chanted a little from the sidelines, as maybe thirty or forty more committed invididuals sat down in the entrance to Whitechapel as the police lined up and looked on.

After around an hour, I handed my remaining drinking water and wandered down Northumberland Avenue looking for a tube station, couldn’t find one, chilled on one of the Golden Jubilee Bridges for a few minutes and gave my parents a ring.

I’m not trying to be macho when I say this, but I genuinely wasn’t worried about violence. I didn’t fear being arrested in the physical capacity. I wasn’t looking forwards to handcuffs, but the police were calm and polite, the protestors were loud but peaceful, and I never felt any kind of fear response.

It’s simply that I calmly, rationally decided that getting arrested would pose too much of a threat to my job, since a criminal record would likely see me fired from the financial institution that currently employs me.

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Taken from Sky News. This was a small police presence compared to later on.

So I left. I left the actual protesting, the civil disobedience, to people who either had less to lose than I had, or who cared enough to lose more than I was willing to sacrifice.

Because I’m not a hero. I’m an arsehole, and a hypocrite, and my cowardice is destroying my own country.

On the way to Downing Street and outside of it, my friends and I chatted about how the really wasn’t going to change things, most likely. We discussed that, by turning up, staying for a bit, then going home and leaving the place exactly as we found it, we were essentially giving permission to the Government to ignore us.

And they will ignore us.

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This is Sam. Sam is a writer. He led a lot of chants whilst dressed as a London bus. He and his friends stayed behind after I left. He and his friends are better than I am.

I knew, and have said before, that peaceful, obedient protest in the legally-prescribed protesting areas is not going to force any kind of change. It will not end Parliament’s suspension, it will not force a General Election, and it won’t even force Prime Minister to pass comment on the protest itself.

“Mr Johnson, what are your thoughts on the protest outside today?”

“Well, it’s a shame they’re upset.”

“Thank you, Prime Minister.”

I knew this. I knew this, and I knew that I had been saying for years that nobody in this country will fight for change whilst their wi-fi still works and they can still eat crisps and whilst they can still watch the football.

I knew this, and yet at crunch time, I still decided to rationalise and excuse and justify my political cowardice. “Well, I’ve got a job I need to keep. And I’m tired, and self-care is important. And I need to get back to post on social media and write a blog post talking about how important protesting is.”

And I wasn’t even that scared. I just didn’t want the hassle, or the inconvenience of having to notify my workplace about an arrest record.

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One of the last things I saw before I left. Here, you can see that the police vans have completely closed in, and officers are lining the border between the “legal” protest area on Whitechapel and the Trafalgar Square roundabout.

I walked back from the bridge to Trafalgar Square again. Took some photos of the police presence. Explained to two Australian tourists why the protest was occurring. Explained that it had been bigger a few hours ago, even if it was less than a hundred people now. Took some video as the police moved in, the 6pm cutoff for protesting in Whitechapel having come and gone. Then I entered the Charing Cross tube station with my tail between my legs and my dick receeding back inside my body and I headed back to Euston.

Parliament will still be suspended in a week.

Democracy is still going to fail.

But hey, at least my job is safe.

I’m such a hero.


This is what the arseholes want. They want us angry and frustrated, but distracted, and cautious.

Did you go out today? Did you protest? Did you get some neat selfies of yourself and your friends? Did you get a few “likes” and “loves” when you posted them online?

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This post of mine got so many reacts. Like, at least 30. I’m such a hero. Hey guys, I totally took part in an illegal protest for exactly as long as it was convenient, shower me with praise, please!

Did you have a nice day out, being all political and whatnot?

Great. Good. Glad you had a nice time. I did too. I got to see Big Ben covered in scaffolding.

Did you get back in time for Derek’s birthday meal at Nando’s? Weren’t too late, I hope, to join him and his twenty mates who spent the afternoon watching the Villa game?

Hey, the new ‘Dark Crystal’ show is out, you should probably watch that. And you still have the last season of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ to finish off. Shall we get a pizza in? I’m soooo tired after spending an hour outside the council building today, I don’t feel like cooking.

Hey, and I guess one of you had to stay in, to look after the kids or whatever.

Seriously, it’s fine, you need to look after yourself, I get it. Radical self-care and all that. Super important. Me too, that’s why I left the protest. Got to look after yourself.

Here’s the twist, though. Radical self-care is great because day-to-day concerns should never be more important than your health.

And I hate to be the angry voice in the room, but Johnson shutting down Parliament is not a fucking day-to-day concern.

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The last few protestors, sitting down and refusing to move along.

You think your health is important? Correct, it is, and your health will get an awful lot fucking worse when we run out of medicine post-No-Deal Brexit. And it will get worse again when the bastards sell off the NHS to American healthcare companies and you can’t afford medical insurance that you’ve never had to pay before.

Yeah, your job is important, your salary is vital to you getting the next consumer product you really like. You can think back fondly to the days of having a salary after the economy nose-dives and we become a tax haven for the ultra wealthy.

Fighting for democracy is not a nice day out with a few friends. And it’s not a damn selfie. It’s whole-hearted and determined and it requires more from us than a stroll into the city centre and an “angry” react.

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A bronze lion at the base of Nelson’s Column, devouring a devious, lying Prime Minister. Maybe this will be enough to save Parliament.

What We Need To Do

There were fewer protestors in London today than there were at the Aston Villa / Crystal Palace game. On the train home, I heard multiple conversations about a bad referee decision, and none about the fucking shutting down of our Parliament.

Johnson and his cabal of disaster-capitalists can ignore a few thousand people calling him names in the legal protest areas.

They cannot ignore hundreds of thousands clogging up the entire road network.

We don’t need to kick in windows and tear down bus stops and tip over parked cars to make our voices heard, we just need to get enough of us together often enough to have a material impact.

And right now, there aren’t enough of us.

Here’s how we get more.

Tell people in person, people that you work with or socialise with, how important the suspension of Parliament is to you. Don’t play into Johnson’s hands by “not discussing politics” out of politeness.

Tell them how important the suspension of Parliament is, and explain why. Explain in simple terms. Don’t talk about Brexit, don’t talk about the Tories, don’t talk about anything except this:

Shutting down Parliament takes away our right to vote.

Why? Because when we vote in elections, we vote for MPs to represent us. If Johnson can make our MPs completely powerless, then we’re not voting, we’re just drawing a cross on a meaningless piece of paper.

If the 2016 Brexit Referendum comes up, don’t talk about “non-binding results” or “Cambridge Analytica”. Talk about the fact that a single referendum can’t be used to shut down other forms of democracy, no matter the result.

Talk about the fact that even if we voted to leave the EU, we never voted to shut down Parliament. We never voted to lose our representation.

Ask your friends and colleagues if they think voting is important. If they do, find a way to convince them that shutting down Parliament is the same as taking away their vote. If the referendum is important to them, make them understand that they may never get another referendum on any subject because, with the ability to suspend Parliament, governments no longer need to worry about being held accountable for anything.

If they say that Johnson’s following through on his promises, point them to his Wikipedia page, point out all the times he’s been sacked for lying, been caught out on his lies. Ask them if they really think he’s suddenly started telling the truth.

And don’t play into his hand by portraying him as a clown. Don’t call him “Bojo”, don’t call him an idiot, or a fool. These things make him harmless, and approachable, and he knows this. Johnson is a smart, calculating and manipulative operator. We all ought to be a lot more scared of him than we are.

The same goes with Rees-Mogg, and the rest of them. Destroy their image. Break the glass. Scrape away the veneer. The current cabinet is a scary bunch of liars motivated solely by self-interest. Rees-Mogg is not a dorky public schoolboy in a top hat – he is a shrewd investor who has made millions off of Brexit already.

Don’t allow the current government to seem harmless, or bumbling, or stupid. They are determined, and intelligent, and motivated.

And whilst you’re doing all this, do it with kindess. Don’t put your colleagues and friends on the defensive. Don’t make this about political issues beyond the matter of our democratic rights. Don’t force them to account for their action, or lack of action – just give them reasons to care, as though you’re doing them a favour. Give them reasons to doubt their own apathy, to talk to their partners about it, spread the doubt a little further.

And don’t engage with detractors. If a rowdy white male football fan tries to stick is oafish oar in, ignore it. Just move on. Don’t argue, because you won’t win, because he’s not trying to win an argument – he’s trying to derail it. Brexiteers want us to get bogged down in statistics, voter turnouts, vote shares. They want technical terms like “prorogue” and “non-binding” and fucking “backstop” to be sticking points. They want us continually explaining these things over, and over, and over.

Don’t.

Stick to the message.

Suspending Parliament takes away our right to vote.

Be friendly. Be nice. Be helpful.

Stick to the message.

Be passionate, but not outraged.

Stick to the message.

The next step is to talk about the positive experiences you’ve had protesting. Talk about the festival-like atmosphere, the feeling of power, of conviction. Be honest. Relate how you really felt, and the reasons you would want to go back again.

Talk about feeling part of something. Of making a difference. And talk about how easy you found it, if you found it easy. If your experience at a protest was in any way rewarding, relay how rewarding it was.

Because we may not win people over solely with our cause. We may need to appeal to their ego, too.


The Next Steps

I thought I had done enough when I walked away today. But I will never have done enough until the suspension of Parliament is cancelled. Because if it goes ahead, and if it lasts, then I clearly could not have done “enough”. By, like, definition.

So there will be more protests, and marches. I will need to make more placards. I will need to keep working on my message, refining it. I’ll need to keep writing, and I’ll need to keep making sacrifices. For now, just sacrifices of my free time, my energy, and my money.

Will I have the courage to risk arrest? To fully engage in civil disobedience? Even revolt?

I hope so. But right now, I’m a coward and a hypocrite, trying to convince you to be better than me. To realise that every day we decide to rationalise away our uncertainty and our dislike of inconvenience, we hand over a little more power to Johnson and his cabal.

They don’t fear a militant oppostion. They fear a militarised one. Not militarised with weapons, but with unity, determination and coordination. They’ve never had to face anything like that before, so let’s make it an appealling prospect to as many people as possible.

If you end up being “that person in the office who’s always talking about politics,” well, a few social connections is honestly a fairly small price to pay for liberty. Hell, my career is a small price to pay for liberty. The protestors in Hong Kong are showing us exactly what they’re willing to pay for liberty, and honestly, they’re putting us to shame.

Make it normal to be political. Make it normal to be proactive. Make people feel like they can make a difference.

And if someone says they feel ashamed for not doing more, don’t rush to correct them. Just tell them “Yeah, it would have been good if you had been there.”

Because we are genuinely running out of time.