Thursday, 17 November 2011

The triumphal march of the Fortnum 145

So, ten of the protestors that 'occupied' Fortnum & Mason to highlight the company's tax avoidance have been done for 'aggravated trespass' - a new law introduced by a 'Labour' government in 2003. I'm not sure how entering a shop during opening hours and sitting down, and then leaving when requested (clearing up as you go) can be described as 'aggravated trespass'. Video footage taken at the time shows shoppers continuing to shop during the 'aggravated trespass', and a police inspector telling them that they will be allowed to go shortly provided they turn left out of the store so as to keep them separate from a more aggressive demonstration up the road. They were then 'kettled', all arrested, and many kept for 15 hours or more in the police station.

The understanding of the Atonement that is most powerful for me is that which Paul (if it is indeed Paul) describes in Colossians 2 : 14, 15 where Jesus's ignominious execution by the 'principalities and powers' is recast as those same powers being led as captives in Christ's triumphal procession - Roman imperial imagery turned on its head. What he describes as being 'nailed to a cross' we might describe as 'being outed' . . "now we can see The System as it really is, with all its injustice and ugliness exposed for all to see, and know that for all its pomp it cannot stand."

That, I am sure, will be the effect of this abuse of power by the Met Police and the courts - it will rebound in the form of a generation radicalised, with any cosy illusions about the British State shattered. While senior government officials run off to Switzerland to do backhand deals with global companies to allow them to avoid paying billions of UK tax, while investment bankers rob a generation of its prospects and pay themselves obscene bonuses for doing so, while their political stooges run behind them collecting their ordure and tipping it on the heads of the poor and vulnerable, those who dare to shout that The System is broken and no longer fit for purpose are done for aggravated trespass. Now we see it : no more illusions.

It's true that I lost my illusions about the British State - and especially the Met Police - years ago. A generation ago, in fact. The war waged on the people the prime minister of the day called the 'Enemy Within', and the covert operations against peace activists, destroyed my faith in the beneficence of the State for good. But just because we see here power doing what power will always do - protect privilege, protect its own power, victimise the weak - doesn't mean that it doesn't still make me angry.

Donate to the appeal costs to keep that triumphal march rolling.