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David Davies MP: Leave the St Paul's protesters in their tents - clearing them would cause more trouble than it's worth


David Davies is the Member of Parliament for Monmouth, Chairman of the Welsh Affairs select committee, and a Special Constable with the British Transport Police.

In a fit of curiosity, I headed off yesterday lunchtime to see the happy campers who have been dominating the headlines and bringing about the downfall of various prelates.

Coming out of the tube station, I walked around the corner expecting mayhem. Instead I saw some rows of tents and a few groups of youngish studentish types sitting about in a relaxed and carefree fashion.

The usual mix of Londoners walked past unhindered and seemingly unbothered. Spotting an upmarket coffee shop opposite the tents I bought a take-away coffee and walked into the encampment.

There I was, Tory MP in a suit with a poppy, symbol of the capitalist society to be overthrown, wandering up and down in the midst of the anarchists. What would happen?  From the point of view of writing an interesting article, I am sorry to report that nothing happened at all. Not a glare or stare, let alone threats or acts of physical violence were offered. Many of the protesters actually looked and sounded like bankers having a day off.

Other members of the public went about their business unmolested. Nothing seemed to be preventing people from getting into the Church. A few police officers stood about trying not to look bored. They didn’t seem to be expecting trouble.

A debate now rages across the press between those who support the protestors and those who want to kick them off St Paul's.

I wish to offer a truly alternative voice. What about those who don’t support the protesters but don’t think its worth kicking them off either?

Nobody should have the right to park their tents on a piece of ground and remove everyone else’s right to use it, especially if they are then going to disappear home for a shower and a sleep.

But if, after a long and expensive court battle, the protesters are ordered to leave we know what will happen. Their numbers will suddenly swell as violent agitiators join them.

The police, if they are met with violence, will have to use force. This will mean demonstrators being hit with asps, pushed by shields and sprayed with a pepper solution.

In short, a huge punch up would be inevitable, recorded by a thousand mobile phones. Impressionable teenagers from upmarket homes will get carried away and throw things at the police, get arrested and face imprisonment, while others caught up in the melee will receive minor injuries then spend months appearing on the television to moan about the fascist state and “police brutality”.

Those who ask the police to go in will probably be the first to condemn them when the complaints pour in. It is all so depressingly foreseeable.

So let us just put up with the slight eyesore and the minor inconvenience of this demonstration. Let them have their fun.

Instead of sending in the riot squad, perhaps we could ask the head of recruitment for the Financial Services Authority and the Serious Fraud Office to pop along with some job application forms and explain that making a difference to banking regulation and tax fraud is possible, but it usually involves months or years of hard unglamorous work, not 15 minutes of fame in front of the cameras.


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