I was standing in Parliament Square two days ago. Today I watched it burn.
Specifically, I watched a peaceful protest march take legitimate steps to avoid an unauthorized kettle on the street ahead of them, which the Met then used to justify random and wanton police brutality against unarmed students. There was a bit of jostling, sure. Maybe some pushing and shoving. That sort of thing happens when you have a crowd of ten thousand people in one place. Then I watched the horses charge for no reason. It takes a lot of people to organize a charge like that: you can see the unmounted officers simultaneously move aside, presumably on a prearranged signal to let the horses through, who stampede into the crowd with no warning. I can understand a certain amount of violence from individual policemen who might get caught up in the moment: they're human like the rest of us. But here we see that somebody in command made a decision to charge into a mostly-quiet crowd, and the order was passed on to several hundred trained police officers, each of whom is charged with maintaining the peace. Not one of them said: hang on, this might be dangerous.
And then I watched Metropolitan Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry lie, and lie, and lie again. First she said that the police had been facing constant violence all day, which was a lie. Then she said that no one was being kettled when they were. Then she said that kettling was a necessary act of last resort, which it isn't, and which doesn't explain why the Met always hurtle to use it at the first available opportunity. We saw them try to establish a kettle while the march was still peacefully processing along the prearranged route. That's why people deviated from the march route in the first place, and why all of this kicked off in the first place.
If the Met insist on using kettling as a standard practice, people are going to start dying, and it's going to be the Met's fault.
I was standing on Whitehall just the other day, doing the tourist thing. Big Ben was right there and Downing Street was right behind me; all these icons of our common culture that stand out.
REVOLUTION was still spraypainted on the walls from the last protest, but I was able to look beyond these temporary aberrations and see the beautiful buildings and architecture of a glorious nation.
Not any more. This is Britain now, and we're all fucked. I want out.