Of course, Dan tries to be nuanced in his position-taking: "It may grate with some people, but we had a massive expression of our right to protest in this country back in May. Tens of millions of people took to the streets to make their voices heard. It was called a general election ... It is vital we protect our right to free speech. It is vital we protect our right to protest. Which is precisely why tonight’s “demonstration” should not be taking place at all." I do agree with Dan on one thing, violence does indeed threaten liberty. But absolutely nowhere in his screed is there a consideration of where the violence stems from. In true Tory fashion, intimidation and violence is always something perpetrated by protesters. Yet practically every regular *peaceful* demonstration-goer I know will tell you stories of appalling police behaviour that puts name-calling and argy-bargy firmly in the shade. The mainstream had a glimpse of it back in April 2009, when an out-of-control copper killed a passerby during the G20 protest. I'd take Dan's bleating a bit more seriously if he turned his acerbic pen to the thuggish riot cops for whom battering peaceful protesters is par the course.
That doesn't let those who engage in riotous behaviour off the hook. Noting that the policing of demonstrations is often heavy handed isn't the same as identifying anarchoid types up for a ruck as angels with beams of sunlight shining from their arses. But again, let's put this violence in some sort of social context. Dan is annoyed that a minority of tonight's demonstrators will turn central London into Beirut, inconveniencing people and businesses that just want to get on with their lives. Let us then consider another kind of violence. As Dan has likened the general election to a mass demonstration, he has green lit a consideration of the violent consequences of that event. Pray tell Dan, why does the prospect of a few bruised police cars trouble you when the fear and anxiety faced by millions of families thanks to the governments' proposed tax credits cut inspires nowhere near as much vitriol? Where is your condemnation of the violence of people being forced out of their homes thanks to the bedroom tax? The violence of not having enough in the cupboard and going cap in hand to the foodbank? The violence of the work capability assessment, of disabled people being branded liars, of having their dignity ripped away, and of families shattered by the suicides of relatives hounded by the DWP? Where's your concern for this violence, Dan? Why does the more serious, damaging violence of the government you helped get re-elected merit nary a comment while the comparatively inconsequential of smashed shop windows summons forth fire and brimstone?
Dan, like a great many of the paid-for commentariat are at all sixes and sevens. The collapse of politics-as-usual, and the subsequent rise of UKIP, the Greens, the SNP, and now the Jez-led Labour Party have knocked the foundations from under them. They don't know what to make of the fundamental uncertainties of politics in 2015, and they certainly don't like it. All they can do is flail around and pen rubbish nostalgically harking back to the old certainties. They are commentators with precious little to say. "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad", uttered Prometheus while tied to his rock. He might also have added 'gratuitously stupid'.