There are far better ways to make a case for your beliefs than assaulting cabinet members. Throwing green custard over Peter Mandelson may bring a degree of amusement to some, but whatever your cause, this sort of activity is completely unacceptable. I don't say this just because I have a degree of respect for Peter Mandelson (a point that probably does not endear me to many Labour members!) I say it because so-called direct action damages democracy and often puts back the cause in question.
The self-righteous twit who perpetrated this morning's custard throwing spectacle (she postures as an environmentalist but uses a highly processed and unsustainable food source!) claimed she was doing so because democracy had failed. Peter Mandelson, she claimed, was not elected. Quite who elected her is not clear. She claimed that direct action had worked in the past. She gave the miners' strike and suffragettes as examples. Given that the miners' strike was an unmitigated disaster, was led by donkeys posing as lions and actually accelerated pit closures, this seems to be an odd comparison. And with my historian's hat on, there is an historical argument that says that the campaign of violent damage to property actually delayed female suffrage. Having read private papers and cabinet documents of the late Edwardian and pre First World War period, there was great frustration with the more extreme "direct action" wing amongst those cabinet members who supported equalising the franchise. They did not want to appear to buckle to undemocratic forces of violence.
I am all for peaceful demonstration. The right to protest is a fundamental part of democracy and Labour's attacks on that right have been unforgivable. But there are some attention seekers who go too far. I suggest today's culprit does something practical to support the green cause such as living a genuinely greener lifestyle and showing others how to do it, rather than bringing the cause she claims to support into disrepute.
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