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The Telegraph’s May Day blues

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Issue 1747

Inside the system

The Telegraph’s May Day blues

THE DAILY Telegraph had a full page feature last Friday on the London May Day protest. It was not quite what you might have expected in the true blue Tory paper. It was written by Susan Irvine, a fashion and beauty writer for the Sunday Telegraph magazine.

She joined the May Day protest because of her concern over issues like Third World debt. She told over one million Telegraph readers: “I had been forcibly detained by the police, along with 3,000 other mainly peaceful protesters, in Oxford Circus without anything to drink or eat, or anywhere to have a pee for seven and a half hours. From where I was standing, in the epicentre, the May Day demonstrations involved peaceable, articulate people who had come together to protest. They were not aggressive, antagonistic anarchists smashing windows. It was strange afterwards to see clips of flare-ups on television. It wasn’t like that on the ground. Instead we endured long hours of boredom followed by long hours of physical and mental distress. Every now and then the crowd would get so frustrated at having their freedom to leave denied that there would be a chant of, ‘This is what democracy looks like.’ We had already been endlessly videoed by police cameras, but the police were searching and photographing people as they left.”

Later one of her friends got claustrophobic: “Our friend sat on the kerb shaking with distress. I approached a senior policeman and asked if he could slip away. ‘No,’ said the officer. ‘That’ll teach you to come to things like this.’ It’s taught me a lot, but not that. I came away feeling angered and alienated by what I experienced as heavy handed policing of a peaceable crowd. And, if anything, I feel even more fiercely about the issues.”

Police lose plot

POLICE paranoia over May Day reached new depths as the coach from Ilchester pulled into London last Tuesday morning. Police piled onto the bus and hauled marketing consultant Sean Dromgoole off for lengthy questioning centring on Sean’s alleged anarchist involvement. He had no such involvement.

While on the bus Sean had had a conversation on his mobile phone with a friend who was opening a new restaurant in central London, the Mangiare. The friend was worried about the May Day protests near the restaurant. Following his marketing instincts, Sean suggested a publicity wheeze. Why not get staff in Mangiare T-shirts to stand outside the restaurant handing out pizza to passing demonstrators?

An undercover cop travelling on the bus overheard the phone conversation and called Scotland Yard. Pizza? Mangiare T-shirts? Must be some sinister Italian anarchist plot to bring chaos to the streets of the capital, and all cleverly orchestrated from the morning Ilchester to London coach.

Quick as a flash the undercover James Bond dived into the coach loo, whipped out a mobile and alerted Scotland Yard to the devious plan by the Italian anarchists.

I’m alright, Jack

MOTOROLA IS axing its Bathgate mobile phone plant and throwing thousands of workers on the dole. The firm’s communications director, Derek Milne, said, “We are all in this together,” and pledged to help workers find new jobs.

Milne has certainly helped at least one Motorola worker to get a new job-himself. Workers are furious that Milne has slipped away to a new highly paid job and taken a five-figure redundancy deal from Motorola.

“I can’t believe he has the cheek to fix himself up while the rest if us are thrown on the scrap heap,” said one worker.

NEXT TIME you see figures for rises in average earnings, remember this. Figures just released show that the huge bonuses paid out to City traders by just 25 firms “were almost entirely to blame for the jump in headline average earnings to 5 percent from 4.5 percent” last month.

March of capitalism

Missing the point? Anyone phoning the national train enquiries line last Monday or on the morning of Tuesday, May Day, heard a strange recorded message: “If you are inquiring about tomorrow’s capitalist march in London, please phone…”

‘Sack ’em all’

YOU KNOW where you stand with the magazine Business Finance. Its upfront masthead declares that its aim is “Driving Down Costs And Boosting Your Profits”.

Just in case there was any doubt, a feature article headlined “Time For Change” begins, “Sod it, we’ll sack ’em all.”

DO our trade union leaders have no principles left? The Corus steel multinational, which is axing thousands of jobs held its annual general meeting in London last week. The venue? Congress House, owned by the Trades Union Congress.

WHEN May Blake got a letter on her birthday recently she got a nasty shock. It was a form for Jobseeker’s Allowance. May was ordered to fill it in and told that she should be out getting a job. May lives at a nursing home in Harrow. It was her 106th birthday.

Weasel v pig

A POLL among young people has cast some interesting light on how the main party leaders are viewed. The “Generation Next” poll of 15 to 21 year olds asked which animals Tory leader William Hague and prime minister Tony Blair reminded them of.

Hague was called a red squirrel (“soon to be extinct”), a weasel (“opportunist and without principle”) and a snail (“going nowhere fast”). Blair meanwhile was labelled a tick (“living off the opinions of others”) and a pig (“eating pound notes from a swill bucket”).

Things they say

“THE Economist speaks for Trotskyite minorities.”

  • Spokesman for Gianfranco Fini, the far right politician allied to Italian prime ministerial candidate Silvio Berlusconi who the magazine had attacked

“THE most articulate-by a long way-were the Socialist Workers Party members shouting slogans to the effect that the World Bank causes poverty and death.”

  • Scotland on Sunday columnist JOHN LLOYD on the anti-capitalist May Day protests in London

“MAY DAY has been presented as a triumph for the police, which is a good thing, since if they hadn’t triumphed after spending that much money, using tactics that heavy-handed, they really would have been as stupid as conversation with them suggested them to be.”

  • Evening Standard columnist Zoe Williams, who went on the London May Day protests


  • Warning on a packet of Sainsbury’s jumbo salted peanuts

“THE PARTY is a legitimate business expense.”

  • Disney spokesman JOHN DREYER on spending $5 million on a party for the premiere of the new film Pearl Harbor

“TO SAY they have to lay 4,000 people off because of the economy while still splashing out $5 million on a premiere is obscene.”

  • Writers Guild of America spokesperson

“IT IS a small, thin house surrounded by houses on either side.”

  • FRIEND of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who have been living in a luxury three storey section of Kensington Palace paying a rent of 70 a week. The government will pay the 1.1 million required for the palace’s upkeep this year

“FOR 70 a week around here you would be lucky to get a lock-up garage.”

  • Letting agent ANNA CUTHBERTSON

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