Summer’s finally arrived, we’ve been less promised more ordered to have street parties this year. The shops and high street windows are festooned with bunting. The high street shops that is, that are still open. So UKUncut decided to have a little street party of their own. Where better to do so than outside Nick Clegg’s house? So they pitched up with picnics, bunting and blankets. They knocked on neighbours doors to explain what they were doing and why. The neighbours we’re perfectly friendly and understandable: some found it hilarious. Then they sat down and engaged in a “Great British Street Party” in protest at the cuts Clegg has been implementing.
Because UK Uncut is about “bringing to the doorstep” the face of the cuts. When Clegg is sat in Parliament jeering at an opposition bench alongside Cameron, he doesn’t ever have to really consider the day to day life of the disabled kids and vulnerable adults lives he’s cutting. If someone asks him a “difficult question” on Marr he can pull a face that is designed to look like “human empathy” but is in fact closer to “drawn out constipation” then blame either Labour or the Greeks, whichever we’re riffing on this week.
Then, as the Uncutters were doling out potato salad, Westminster’s Ayn Rand tribute act logged onto Twitter. Rather than seeing it as an amusing protest on a summers day, and a five minute diversion should Miriam decide to pop to the Co-op for some pasta, she started mashing the keyboard. Ah! A situation! An opportunity for a vox-pop! What shall my position be? She stopped short of calling them DAMN REDS AND COMMIEZ but did call on her followers to donate to the Lib Dems to redress this heinous wrong. At this point, Tim Montgomerie pointed out telling people to donate to your political opponents might not be the wisest move.
Twitter was alive with people squawking “Oh no, what if his children see!” See what? A street party? Well christ alive they’ll be fucking terrified next weekend. The entire country will be off limits. Or that a lot of people are very, very displeased with their father? Well, that’s a fact of life. And when you’re trying to teach children why we don’t lie, perhaps the consequences of your lies being on your doorstep isn’t a bad lesson. There was talk of banning peaceful protest from outside politician’ houses. We already have to apply for a permit to protest outside outside the seat of democracy, and if the expenses scandal taught us anything, it’s that our MPs have a glut of houses. Ironic really, considering young people like me will never be able to afford one.
But, his children didn’t see the peaceful protest. Because they weren’t there. Possibly because they were at one of his two other houses, or the grace and favour mansion he shares with William Hague. My siblings on the other hand, have to see the effects of his austerity programme every day. What happens when you cut benefits. Just like I had to the last time the Tories got in. Luckily privilege affords you the luxury of avoiding being confronted with the every day face of your actions. Do we really think that holding a street party is an “extreme reaction” to slashing benefits to thousands of individuals and families across the country? People struggling to even survive? We know how inequality works: this isn’t a short term measure, the effects of poverty will send ripples through generations to come. I think I know where my sympathies lie.