Bob Geldof’s call last week for one million people to protest at the G8 summit in July has focused attention back on the demands for 100 percent Third World debt cancellation, and more and better aid.
The reaction of the establishment has been a mixture of outrage and cynicism. Police in Edinburgh are saying they can’t cope with a protest of one million people. Geldof’s colleagues said that he meant a symbolic million.
But Geldof was not being metaphorical. One million people protesting in Edinburgh on Wednesday 6 July is something we should all be working towards. Everyone should be heading to Edinburgh. School students should take days off school. People should take time off work.
Geldof has caught the mood among ordinary people. This has taken the establishment by surprise, because it is completely divorced from the reality of everyday life. People do not want to hear the same promises made at the G8 summit yet again and then quickly broken. That is why there will be a monster protest.
The fact that so many people want to be involved in the protests shows that people want to be listened to — something Tony Blair has promised, but will never do.
Police representatives who don’t want justice
It has been a long fight for justice for the family of Harry Stanley, who was shot dead in east London by the police six years ago.
So long, according to the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Steve House and Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Glen Smyth, that further attempts to investigate the shooting should be abandoned.
That was their response last week when Surrey police investigators said they had new evidence in the case. This led to the arrest and bailing of two London firearms officers on suspicion of murder, gross negligence, manslaughter and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
In any other case police spokespeople would be expressing sympathy for the victim of a shooting and reassuring us that investigations would continue vigorously. But when it is the police under suspicion, we’re told how it is those under investigation, rather than the victim’s family, who have suffered throughout.
Government is looking at the wrong solution
A new report from the Institute of Criminal Policy Research says that anti-social behaviour is not a problem for the majority of the population, but that it affects people in deprived areas.
Two thirds of adults believe that preventative action is what is needed to tackle the problem.The government’s response was to claim its anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) are a preventative measure that is working.
But this is an argument that it can’t win. The absurdity of an Asbo to prevent a suicidal woman walking near a river — with the threat of a prison sentence if she breaks the Asbo — is clear.
Investment in deprived areas is what is needed to improve matters. We need more youth centres and opportunities for young people. Instead of demonising them, they need to be offered hope.