What shall we spend £10 million on this week?
I know, let’s fill London with policemen and turn those anti-G20 demonstrations into a battle.
For those who don’t know, we in the UK are going to have a week of demonstrations which the police fear will turn into a major riot.
Mostly these riots happen when disproportionately large numbers of police start shepherding demonstrators who are usually folk with a bit more nous and fire than your average sheep so that even the slightest bite to the leg can escalate into retaliation.
Well, if the police do provoke violence then that £10 million bill will escalate but if the whole thing is peaceful we will never know if it was those boys in blue who prevented it.
I went on the , by now, famous, anti-Iraq war demonstration in London some years ago. They say over a million people turned out and, to my highly impressionable imagination, it was a great event.
I have never been in such a large crowd, never been so impressed by the orderliness or the unanimity of purpose or the basic good humour.
It was genuinely exciting to be part of such a massive public statement of disapproval of government policy. It was as if the whole country had taken to the streets and, I think, percentage wise, the majority of the nation did support us.
We had a clear message: Say No to the War.
And where did it get us?
Well, you all know by now – nowhere.
Maybe though, memories of that giant crowd moving majestically through the nation’s capital will stay somewhere in our consciousness and it might even prove us right when as Tony Blair predicted, history judges his actions. Maybe then, politicians might listen to the people before they go to war.
Next Thursday, the big guys, the leaders of the twenty richest countries in the world, will meet for four and a half hours in London.
The idea had been for them to come together and agree a massive joint policy on getting the World out of this economic recession but, we already know that that won’t happen.
There has already been all the chat, the twenty finance ministers met and agreed to disagree a couple of weeks ago, and the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has been flying round the World trying to forge at least some element of concord.
He is very happy that the shiny American President agrees with him but there will be no unanimous policy agreement at G20 on the main issues. Instead, there will be a set of lesser, already sorted, policy announcements which will enable them all to save face.
What can you do in four and a half hours?
A good session down the pub, for sure, and we all know how the conversations develops there.
Sadly but inevitably, this summit is bound to be eye-wash.
So what will those demonstrators achieve?
Well, they don’t have a simple direct message. Unlike, Say No to the War, they are saying Say No To Lots Of Things, including environmental pollution and that biggy, capitalism.
Well, I am not an economist, so I will leave it to others to debate the financial advantages of capitalism or anarchism.
When we get to next weekend, when all the politicians and demonstrators have gone home, hopefully without anyone suffering any injury worse than dented pride, nothing will have changed.
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, the Chinese government has announced a new public holiday in Tibet – Serf Emancipation Day.
This is the government’s attempt to prevent some other demonstrations. This time from many Tibetans who want the return of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and to the “good old days” when Tibet was a Buddhist theocracy.
The government says that it has taken Tibet out of feudalism and given the people a taste of prosperity never known before the Chinese invasion.
Well, I am not an economist, so I will leave it to others to debate the financial advantages of Buddhist feudalism or state communism.
I do know though that there will be lots of dancing in the streets, orchestrated by Beijing…and controlled by thousands of para military forces just in case there is any violence.
So this week is going to see many thousands of people taking to the streets all over the World….what will they achieve?
In the end, some time in the future, President Obama, of the USA will have a little chat with Prime Minister Wem of China, there will a touch of gentle pressure on the shoulders of Germany’s Frau Merkel and France’s Monsieur Sarkozy, who will do a bit of bullying in Eastern Europe, Brazil will get some presents and Prime Minister Brown will announce that everyone was now agreeing to what he had been saying all along.
And that £10 million? Well, you can’t be too careful these days. It’s not real money anyway, or is it?