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Protest, but others have rights too
Last December, with both our adult children staying with their in-laws, my wife and I decided, for the first time ever, to have Christmas abroad.
But the great freeze intervened. Our flight was cancelled.
On the Sunday before Christmas we went, instead, to St Paul’s Cathedral for their evening service.
There were tourists there, and worshippers. Neither got in the others’ way.
The service was sublime. I marvelled as I always do at the wonder of Christopher Wren’s creation.
This December, if the tent protests outside the Cathedral continue, there’ll be no tourists, and fewer worshippers.
There’s been a tent protest opposite the main entrance to the Houses of Parliament for some years.
It’s messy. It will be cleared at some stage, but it’s hard to argue that the exercise by those protesters of their right (as they see it) to protest has got in the way of other people’s rights to go about their business.
That’s not the case for the tent protesters outside St Paul’s.
OK, if they’d stayed for just a couple of days. But some say they have every intention of staying put.
The consequence, if the protests do continue, is that other people’s rights will be significantly reduced.
That will include “tourists”. But tourists are people too.
I exercise my rights when I’m abroad to visit churches and cathedrals, to share in others’ experiences.
All street marches and demonstrations – and I’ve been on a few in my time – are bound to involve some temporary disruption.
Most people accept that this is a small price for our democracy.
But the longer the St Paul’s protest has gone on, the less convinced I have become about the justification the protesters put forward.
What has most surprised, and depressed me, has been the tone their “leaders” have offered, with little or no practical recognition of others’ rights, and arrogantly dismissive that the Cathedral (which has to get money from somewhere) will lose revenue from tourism.
They have been left sounding self-righteous, and self-indulgent, hardly a stance to persuade others to their cause.