The link above will take you to more pictures from this morning's protest in Parliament Square. I had chipped in £50 towards the cost of the Sadiq Khan balloon caricature and went along to see it launched. The organisers were "Make London Safe Again" and their slogan (in reference to the rising tide of violent crime under Mayor Khan) is "Stop the Khanage." To my disappointment (I have yet to see "Antifa" in action and was looking forward to it from an anthropological point of view) no opposition turned up. I guess that 0930 was too early in the morning for them.
Make London Safe Again's agenda for the protest was to "mark the fight back for free speech in our country." Having permitted the "Trump Baby" balloon on the occasion of President Trump's state visit to London (and talked in the media about how it was consistent with free speech and part of our satirical tradition in Britain) the Mayor could hardly object to a similar protest about him. He seems to have permitted it with a good enough grace but the media are busy portraying it as a fascist horror show or a flop or a waste of money. Take this article, for example, which described it as a "party for bigots". According to its author, it has attracted support from some unsavoury folk. He probably regards everyone to the right of him as unsavoury. The Left always loves to demonstrate its belief in the equal value of every human by sneering from a position of imagined superiority at everyone who disagrees with them. As someone who persuaded for a living it's always struck me as an odd approach. Hilary Clinton seemed to imagine though that she would win voters away from Mr Trump by calling them "deplorable". It's just their little way.
They went more than usually nuts about President Trump's visit. Mayor Khan went so far as to say that he was "not welcome" in London, to my irritation. London is my home too and the Mayor has no right to speak for Londoners on the subject of who is "welcome" or not. He rather reminded me of a daft pet dog yapping rudely at an invited guest.
OK, so Mr Trump is not the President they would have chosen, but the choice was not theirs. He's not the President I would have chosen (at least if given a better option than him or Clinton). However, when POTUS travels as Head of State, he represents the entire American people in the same way that HM the Queen represents us. I am fond of America and Americans and inclined to be polite and respectful to anyone representing them, even if I don't personally like him. I would have been polite to President Obama, for example, though I consider him a dangerous and wicked man of doubtful ethics.
Similarly, though I am not personally in favour of the British monarchy I would take it personally if the Queen were to be insulted or mocked when she represented our nation abroad. Not for her sake (though she seems a nice enough woman trying very hard to do the job well) but for that of our nation. So while I respected the legal right of hysterical leftists to speak out (and fly their balloon) I jumped at the chance to hold Mayor Khan to his hypocritical words about free speech and satire. I can't speak for others, but that's why I donated towards today's balloon– to apologise to the American people for the boorish conduct of my fellow-citizens towards their President and to remind Mayor Khan that free speech is not just for his nasty chums.
Make London Safe Again has a wider point to make about violent crime in London. Personally, I am more minded to blame Cressida Dick, the ideologically over-promoted Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, but it has happened on his watch. When running for Mayor he was ready enough to pin the blame for all London's ills on his predecessor so he can hardly complain about that either. I listened to a journalist filming one of the organisers while interviewing her about the event. He tried to get her to make some statement he could use to pin a metaphorical swastika on her, but all he got was;
I'm not political at all. I am a mother of four children and I don't think they're safe in London. Mr Khan is not doing a very good job as Mayor
I enjoyed his disappointment more than anything else at the event. I was witness to an abortive attempt to create fake news. Sadly, I am sure he found another way. If he couldn't get her to say what he wanted, he probably just made someone up.
I chatted briefly to a couple there and asked why they had come. The lady said she thought Khan was doing a terrible job and that she wanted to be there for the protest against him. This seemed a legitimate reason to me and not one that made her a "bigot" or indeed any of the other nasty names leftists love to call people when trying to win then over as friends and influence their votes.
The only political leaflet I was handed at the event came from a young man representing the "For Britain" movement, an anti-islamic splinter group from UKIP formed by Anne Marie Waters after she lost that party's leadership election. It enjoys the support of Morrisey, apparently. It's not likely to command mine however and for the same reason that UKIP isn't. Both parties are right wing only in the "social" senses that I am not. I don't think law or government should have anything to say about social issues or indeed anything other than outlawing the initiation of force or fraud, operating an independent judiciary and an effective police force, and the defence of the realm. Neither UKIP nor For Britain is economically right-wing at all. Both are protectionist and fulminate unintelligently (rather like President Trump) about "globalism" – what you and I, gentle reader, would call both "free trade" and a jolly good thing".
At the sight of that leaflet, the author of the "party of bigots" article would probably have exclaimed "gotcha". I don't think that would be reasonable. For Britain is not proposing my ideas, though I have no objection to "Leave the EU NOW, no ifs, no buts" or "End politically correct policing - one law for all" or "Speak truthfully about Islam & its impact in Britain" (points 1, 3 and 7 of its 10 point programme). I am less enamoured of some of the other 7 points, but a lot of people share the party's concerns. It's a legal party proposing democratic change. It – if it ever won power - would peacefully hand it over if it lost the next election. I don't support it but wouldn't spurn a friend or family member who joined it. Rather as I haven't spurned friends who support the Labour Party, which under its present leadership presents a far greater threat to freedom and democracy – and contains people far more obnoxious than Morrissey.
I enjoyed my morning out. I am not sure what good we did, but we certainly did no harm. At the least it's always pleasant to be reminded that not all Londoners wear the Left's blinkers.