Went on the anti-Austerity march on Saturday 20 June, having said maybe it was not worth going. Then today cycled west into some of the most extensive pockets of affluence I have ever seen - the golden triangle of Putney -Barnes- Richmond.
So, what (the fuck)'s going on?
the 2003 anti-Iraq war march - failed so dismally to change Blair's mind, then what's the point? - I was all ready to be negative and dismissive of this one. Even though I actually love these massings of angry, excited people.
Thanks to god for the people who keep on pushing against the wall of apathy, kicking against the pricks who are basking in their new found wealth and power.
They called it an anti-austerity march, but surely it's equally a protest against the hyper-luxury which the new rich seem to regard as a right - you know, the three cars plus a tank-like SUV on the gravelled drive, the en-suite showers, the designer brands and private cinemas, subterranean swimming pools and marble tiling, the memberships of exclusive clubs, etc, etc.
Anti-poverty, anti-war, anti-privatisation, anti-social-cleansing, anti-racism, anti-unfettered capitalism, anti-petrolhead? yes. Anti austerity? Not so sure.
In the 50s age of austerity there were priorities: we had an NHS, education for all, a welfare state benefits system, but we still went around in demob clothes, food was rationed and holidays were the annual week in Southend or Brighton or Blackpool. There was even a sense that that was the choice: the greater good.
In the 60s, never had it so good, before or since - all the cake and ate it all. But even then WIlson's government clamped down: for example, there were strict limit on how much currency you could exchange.
Then the 70s - we fought for what we had and expected and thought we had won, until Mrs T arrived like that big boot at the end of Monty Python's animated sequences.
After the trauma of early 80s, a re-run - the cakes, all the best cakes, go to those who work, fight, bully and bullshit the best; they who dare win, the oe who work hard play hard, and like the heat in the kitchen. As for the rest, buzz off, losers, wimps. And forget the welfare state.
Now: we are firmly back in about 1988, but the fire-sale of public assets is just about to begin.
Thank god, miserable defeatists like self - those who prefer to roll in the shit to lifting themselves and their friends out of it, then throwing it back of the people who dropped it onto us all…thank god I am irrelevant, and that they are fighting for all.
This demo was organised by the People Assembly - the new and healthy coalition that has swiftly and powerfully distilled itself around the cause of opposing the cuts to the welfare budgets coming our way from the new Tory government.
So many causes out on the street: many of the same banners and and agendas we saw at the Anti-cuts demos of 2010 (NHS, universities, student tuition fees, libraries, services for the disabled, pensioners) but of course on the edges a hundred other groupings of communities and individuals feeling under a whole new massive threat.
There were many speakers, much repetition of messages - but still we cheered, we cheered loudest when Caroline Lucas made so many of the points others had already made, but she made them so powerfully, so succinctly.
One of the big points of protest was Cameron's absolute refusal to allow any of the asylum seekers from
Syria, currently being plucked out of the Mediterranean and dumped on Italian islands, to come to the UK.
The day after the demo I cycled from Clapham to Richmond Park, through some of the wealthiest suburbs of London. Once I hit WImbledon Common, the green spaces went as far as the eye could see. All the roads were chic-a-bloc with gleaming new BMWs, Audis and Range Rovers, packed with smartly dressed families and their pedigree dogs.
I hit a billionaire area near Caesar's Camp and had to turn back - huge gated mansions, cctv, rude signs, private property. Eventually I got across WImbledon Common and into Richmond park, then back via the massive 1960s housing estate of Roehampton. Those buildings with the lush green spaces between them are showing their age, streaked with grime, but they are providing homes for many new migrants.
Build another Roehampton. Occupy those huge houses around the commons. Offer rooms to Syrian and other refugees. Even in the most crowded corners of affluent south east England there is space!