When there are more people protesting at a conference than there are people actually attending, you’ve probably gone wrong somewhere. Especially if you’re the governing party. 50,000 anti austerity protesters took to the streets of Manchester on the opening day of the Conservative Party Conference yesterday, with anger about the NHS privatisation fueling most of the protest.
It’s safe to say that these protests upstaged the Tory conference somewhat. So much so, that the BBC were banned from filming the march by conference security. Because of the lack of reliable media sources about this, it is simply speculation that the BBC were banned from filming. It was mainly through tweets from BBC journalists and protesters that this was uncovered.
50000 anti austerity marchers were said to have turned out, however, Greater Manchester Police report this could be more.
Police say 70kmarching against the Tories. Tories have banned the BBC from filming from their venue, not one mention on news. #nhs299
— Braden (@Braden_Davy) September 29, 2013
Also to be clear. I was stopped by security staff who said they had been told by police not to allow access. No reason was given #cpc13
— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) September 29, 2013
When the ruling party of government stop the country’s national broadcaster from filming the conference where policies are announced that could affect the entire nation, there is something quite wrong with the democracy we supposedly live in and the supposed press freedom. The lack of democracy and transparency exhibited by the Conservatives would make the Chinese Communist Party blush. If we cannot see our national broadcaster broadcasting opposition to the government’s austerity measures then what does that say about our government? That we can’t actually criticize them? How else are we supposed to hold them to account if we can only vote them in and out every five years?
In addition, two army veterans Ian Brazier and Joe Eastwood were removed from the hall when the defence secretary Phillip Hammond laid out plans to disband the second battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers-the murdered Lee Rigby’s battalion.
They disrupted Hammond’s speech with cries of “You’re a disgrace.” before an invitation from Mr Hammond for a meeting. However, Mr Brazier told reporters that he’d tried writing to Mr Hammond but received no answers. So Mr Brazier and Mr Eastwood felt like they had no choice but to intervene in his speech. Mr Brazier and Eastwood were then removed from the conference hall, simply for trying to hold the government to account.
So what does this say about the government?
It says that they don’t take criticism too kindly. This is clear through their unwillingness to actually address these criticisms. This is apparent not only through this weekend’s events but throughout the Tories’ entire time in government so far.
First, they dismissed the London Riots as mindless criminality. They didn’t see the impact their austerity and programme of social cleansing was having on the young people of London. The difference between the left and the right is that the right tend to base their political agenda on anecdotal evidence of a few select stories. The left tend to base their agenda on actual facts and figures. This is probably what the Tories need to start doing. It’s no use basing policies on airy-fairy, pie in the sky anecdotal fantasy stories to try and justify their awful draconian policies. Not only that, but they brought in legislation to pass pretty draconian sentences for petty crime such as stealing a bottle of water without a thought of the impact this will have on the lives of these young people.
Secondly, the Tories relationship with News International is almost disturbing. Everyone recoiled in horror when David Cameron famously got ‘lots of love’ and ‘laugh out loud’ mixed up in a text message to Rebekah Brooks. The pair had a more than cosy relationship. Andy Coulson was the PM’s Director of Communications until he resigned after the phone hacking scandal in 2011. The press in our country is overwhelmingly right wing. And it is overwhelmingly dominated by News International. The bestselling tabloid Newspaper is The Sun. The Especially News International-owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. It begs the question of who really holds the power in the government we currently have. The Tories have a stormy relationship with democracy. It’s evident through their inability to take any kind of criticism on board. This is why they feel the need to cosy up to people like Rupert Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers’ treatment of marginalised social groups is nothing short of abysmal and the very idea that our prime minister is friendly with these people is abhorrent.
Thirdly, I had a look at freedom of information (FOI) requests from the Prime Minister’s office. Out of 348 FOI’s to the Prime Minister’s office since Cameron came into office, 74 were successful or partially successful. The last successful FOI was made on 25th of February 2013. That means, the Prime Minister’s office have not dealt with any FOIs following the correct procedures since February. In addition, people who submit FOIs are often fobbed off with excuses such as “we do not hold that information” amongst others. So when did government become so unaccountable? Maybe it’s because Cameron doesn’t really get the whole democracy thing. Maybe it’s because Cameron grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth that, whenever someone has the nerve to disagree with him, he spits out and has a tantrum.
What we really mean to say here is that the Tories will try and pretend they’re on your side. But they’re not. They only have the interests of big businesses who harbour all of their cash into offshore bank accounts. They clearly do not want to be accountable to the people that elected them, so they hang around with utter sleazeballs like Rupert Murdoch and do dodgy deals with dodgy companies and also don’t honour FOI requests. They hide vital information from citizens of the UK and try and hide information from them all for the sake of making themselves look good.