Why Protest?

The Guardian estimated that 500,000 people attended yesterday’s anti-cuts protest. For me it’s simple, cuts need to be made or else this country will go bankrupt. But the policy implemented is cutting from the areas which will end up damaging the country, e.g. cutting education. Not only that, the Liberal Democrats effectively lied to us, I feel we have a right to say something about that no?

One thing I’ve noticed throughout these protests is the negativity shown by those who do not wish to protest. I understand if this is because they agree with the cuts. But the reality is, many of people have adopted the mentality that the protest are useless, that they will not do anything for the cause, they say “I don’t agree with the cuts, but what’s the point in protesting? It’s not going to change anything”.

My first response to is, it’s true that the government are not legally obliged to change their policy. But they must remember that there are at least 500,000 people that are unhappy with their policy. I say at least as I’m sure those who marched weren’t the only ones dissatisfied with the cuts.

The reason is we protest is simple: pressure. These 500,000+ people will be electorates in the next general election. Political parties KNOW this. Surely it would be in the parties’ interest to secure these peoples votes? This may be why we see Ed Miliband showing his support for the protest. Sure, we can say that Nick Clegg also pledged his support for the students but turned his back on them. But what else can we do? We can only hope for the best, and protest. Unless you call for a revolution, we must abide by the rules of “democracy”.

Thousands of Anti-Cuts protesters approach Westminster

We may have democratically voted for our leaders, but we also have the right to protest. Why therefore are we protesters labelled as ‘trouble-makers’, ‘hippies’, ‘attention-seeking students’? These terms are used to divide us, deter us from protesting. The reality is I’m just a person standing up for what I believe in.

I’m not saying that trouble doesn’t occur at these protests, because it does. But why should a minority become the dominant perception of the protest. Why should 500,000 people be put into the same basket as say 200 people? Why do they get more media coverage? The issue of whether violence should or should not be used is debateable.

It is very easy to condemn violence and occupations at demonstrations for obvious reasons. However is it effective? Perceptions of the UK from outside countries will not be positive, questions of whether democracy is being practised efficiently in the UK may be raised especially if protestors are ignored. Needless to say is possible to delve into the Iraq war to prove this further. Also, we must not forget the times in which violence and occupations did make a difference: the sit-ins and riots during the civil rights movement? I’m sure they too were condemned at the time but would the world be as free as it is today if they backed down?

I personally don’t believe violence works in the case of the cuts protest. And from what I’ve seen, I must admit, it is not right. Non-violent civil disobedience can be more effective. Take Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha of 1929, simple but crucial in uniting the population. Unity is needed and often lacked when standing up for anything, and often why the cause falls.

It saddens me that so many have a defeatist attitude, or just simply don’t care. It’s not the world I want to live in. It seems as though hope for a better world has disappeared, and we should all just “get on with it”. It’s the reason so many injustices are allowed to happen. If we never stand up for what is right, will the world ever be right? It is people like Rosa Parks who teach me to do what you feel is right, even if it seems like the rest of the world disagrees with you. The least we can do is try.


One thought on “Why Protest?

  1. Great article. It’s true that there is so much apathy in this world. And it’s this kind of apathy that can lead to unsavoury people coming into power, such as the BNP. In this case it is clear that many people are dissatisfied and angry about the sweeping reforms being made to the public sector in an ideological manner of having a “smaller state”. The poorest in society rely on the public sector so our current cabinet of millionaires have no problem in initiating deep spending cuts. I predict more protests to come.

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