James Forsyth James Forsyth

A shameful episode

Libby Brooks’ piece in The Guardian today is shameful. Writing about the violence that followed last weekend’s march, she  argues that the ‘relevant question is not whether or how to condemn those acts – but if any coherent agenda lies behind them and how important it is for that to sit neatly with the agenda of the whole’. She even quotes approvingly the idea that the violence can be beneficial as it might push the government to do a deal with the moderate elements of the movement and wants us to remember that ‘the vast majority of damage on Saturday was sustained by property, not persons (84 people were treated for mainly minor injuries); nor was this vandalism mindless, but targeted at banks and other emblematic high street institutions.’

Brooks finishes by saying, ‘The formulation of a lasting alternative agenda and the ultimate success of an economic argument against coalition cuts won’t be achieved on the streets, or while occupying the library at the end of the precinct. But acceptance of this co-existence and diversity of purpose will pave the way to a genuine alternative.’

What Brooks seems to forget is that we live in a representative, parliamentary democracy. The idea that it is legitimate to start attacking property in response to the coalition’s policies is anti-democratic. Indeed, what would Brooks have said if people had responded to Labour’s increase in National Insurance to pay for increased NHS spending, a policy that was not in Labour’s manifesto, by going around smashing up ‘emblematic’ NHS buildings?

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