OK, it’s a mess.
But what should a ‘Parliament Square’ be used for? Parliament-related activities, obviously.
London’s Parliament Square is a traffic island. When not being used for protests, it is empty.
So why not designate Parliament Square as an area for political activity. The activity should be orderly, as in the Houses of Parliament, but there should be free speech, as in the Houses of Parliament. And there should be an Outdoor Speaker to give varied political groups chances to express their views.
We have had years of talk about pedestrianizing Parliament Square – and I favour the idea. But I don’t want the Square to become a sales venue for international coffee chains. Relating the use of outdoor space to the use of adjacent indoor space is often a good principle and this is a wonderful place to put it to the test.
The above photograph, taken today, is of the Peace Garden and Democracy Village in Parliament Square. The protest began on 1st May and the Mayor of London won a court injunction to get it removed last week. An appeal is expected and then the tents are likely to be removed. The handsome statue brooding over the scene is of Benjamin Disraeli. He is famous for his wit, for extending the franchise and for making Queen Victoria the Empress of India. What would he think of the current Afghan War and the protest? I guess he would be against the war, on pragramatic grounds, and against the protest, because it is a mess. But if it could be an orderly Garden Protest, I think he would regard it as an enrichment of our democracy, as would I.
The below photograph, also taken today, shows that London’s police force is a much more liberal institution than it used to be. Multi-everything is the new political correctness.
OK, it’s a mess.