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Year 2001 No. 80, May 14, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Debate on “Kilroy” on May Day Protests

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Debate on “Kilroy” on May Day Protests

Come and Participate in the London Political Forum! Build the Workers' Opposition to the Third Way! Let the People Decide to Become the Decision Makers Themselves!

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Debate on “Kilroy” on May Day Protests

“Kilroy” is the morning chat show on BBC1, the star of which is Robert Kilroy-Silk. It assembles a live audience to debate human-interest topics or topical issues. For example, a number of weeks ago it debated the question: “Is British a Race?”

On the morning of Wednesday, May 2, it staged a live debate on the issue of the “May Day Chaos”, a slogan which remained in the bottom left corner of the screen throughout the programme. The producers invited a representative of RCPB(ML) to participate in the programme.

During the preceding current affairs broadcast “Breakfast”, following an interview with Assistant-Commissioner Mike Todd of the Metropolitan Police whose main point was that a way has to be found of deterring the May Day protests, “Kilroy” was trailed by Kilroy-Silk as follows:

“After the violence and criminal damage of yesterday’s May Day protests, we’ve got an audience of shopkeepers, business people, police officers, protesters of all kinds and descriptions. And we’ll be asking whether it was well policed, is direct action and violence ever justified. And should the demonstrations be banned. It looks, you know, like being a very lively and heated discussion. But, as always on Kilroy, we hope a constructive one.”

The format of the programme is to have a front row of seven or eight participants who are miked-up, and whose names are captioned so that they are identified. The next two rows are participants who can only be heard on the programme when Kilroy-Silk puts his hand-held microphone in front of them. On the back row, and also intermingled on the third row, are the studio audience. The participants are encouraged to be passionate, and to try and catch Kilroy-Silk’s attention if they want to speak.

Introducing the discussion, Kilroy-Silk said: “As you have seen in all the news broadcasts and Breakfast this morning, London this morning is counting the cost of yesterday’s May Day protest – the policing, the criminal damage to buildings, cars, the rest of it, the lost revenue for businesses and shops. And of course, the human cost – the inconvenience and the injury. So – should it be banned next year?” This set the tone of the debate, and the first few contributions were for and against banning May Day demonstrations in 2002.

The representative of RCPB(ML) was given just one chance to speak, and we try and reproduce the exchanges below. It should be appreciated that the atmosphere at this point especially is one of uproar, interruptions, and several people speaking at once, all trying to make themselves heard.

“The laws and the violence of the state are being put in place at the moment in order to criminalise the political protest. [Kilroy: So what does he do (referring to participant sat next to him)? Participant: So what do I do as an ordinary human being and ordinary parent? I want the right …] What we have is the right to protest. [Kilroy: He’s asking you – he wants the right to walk peacefully along the road with his son.] We all want that right. We need a new society where people are empowered. [Participant: That’s what I want …] to have that right. [Kilroy: He’s got that power now – that’s what the police were protecting yesterday. Participant: I don’t want to stop …] The point is, what is the content of this political protest. This is the point. If you focus on this violence … [Kilroy: Let me put it to you. What right have you got to stop him peacefully walking along with his son?] It is the police … [Participant: No, don’t blame …] I was at a demonstration yesterday, a May Day demonstration. There was more than one demonstration in London. The youth were in Oxford Street, workers and Turkish people were marching from Highbury Fields, Hackney workers were demonstrating. [Kilroy: Why were you there?] Because I want a new society. [Kilroy: What kind of society?] A society where the people are empowered. [Kilroy: What power?] Political power. [Kilroy: Why don’t you stand for election then?] This is the point – independent candidates should … [Kilroy: Why don’t you stand for election? … If you want to change the world, why don’t you stand for election? Why don’t you stand for election?] I’m a communist and proud of it, and I know communists who are standing. [Kilroy: What you are saying is, you’re a communist. You can’t get elected through a democratic system, so you’ll take other measures – ah!] It is parties that get elected. People should get elected. People should get elected. Ordinary people. [Kilroy: But you don’t, do you. We don’t vote for you. We vote for the Liberals, the Tories, the Labour Party.] Yes, but the whole system is stacked so that it is the political parties which get elected.”

Kilroy-Silk abruptly walks away, saying: “In that case then, he can’t get elected so he is taking the law into his own hands … is this the way to do it then. Some of them say criminal action is justified. It is pro-animal rights or whatever. Is direct action ever justified?” The next participant replies: “Yes, it is. It has worked throughout the centuries. You go back to the Chartists, or you come up to the 20th century. People protesting in Bolivia against the privatisation of their water, or workers protesting in Zimbabwe against the dictatorship that Mugabe imposes on them. [Kilroy: Yes, but you’re talking about dictatorships, you’re talking about repressive regimes.] Some people find this regime repressive. [Kilroy: Whatever you say, it isn’t. Look at us around here now. There is not one of us here that is afraid to say what we think and believe openly. Not one of us. There is not one of us here that is worried that the policemen or the Secret Service is going to walk in here and march us off never to be seen if you look in Chile or Argentina. Not one of us. Every single one of us here who is a citizen can go tomorrow and put in our nomination papers and stand for parliament. Every one of us. And if you have got enough support you’ll get elected. You can’t compare this country – whatever its faults, and it’s got lots – but you can’t compare the democracy we’re living in today where you have free speech to go on that march, where you can demonstrate, where you can assemble with other people, with Zambia, with Zimbabwe, with Argentina or with Bolivia, with Chile. You can’t.] There is something called the Terrorism Act 2000 which has come into power where a number of so-called ‘terrorist’ organisations, 75% of them Islamic, are proscribed organisations.” And the discussion went on.

Winding up the 60-minute-long debate to camera, Robert Kilroy-Silk underlined his message on the programme by saying: “This country is very proud of its tolerance, its rights of freedom, of free speech, free association, free assembly – they are really important. And everybody in this country has the right to be respected for their point of view, including the police, including those who disagree with the police, and to express their views as they have done here this morning vigorously, without fear and without favour. But these rights, you know, are really important privileges. They must not be abused, because when they are abused they are under threat, and when they are under threat they will be undermined by the law, and that damages and disadvantages every one of us.”

Speaking informally after the programme, Rick Naylor, Vice President of the Police Superintendents’ Association, explained how policing tactics are changing, and now the police are trained to use “pre-emptive violence”.

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Come and Participate in the London Political Forum! Build the Workers' Opposition to the Third Way! Let the People Decide to Become the Decision Makers Themselves!

In preparation for the coming meetings of the London Political Forum, the London Region of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) is engaged in a programme of work of distributing thousands of copies of a flyer, which reads:

The June 7 Election is presenting fraudulent choices to the electorate, as previous elections have done. The workers and other sections of the people have had no say in selecting the candidates nor in formulating the manifestos, just as they are prevented from determining the direction of the economy or being the real decision makers in society. But there is an alternative to electing the big parties to office, to the agenda of making the monopolies successful in the global market place and the whole "Third Way" programme of New Labour.

As part of its work to plant this alternative on the soil of Britain RCPB(ML) warmly invites everyone to participate in the London Political Forum. The Forum aims to raise the level of political discussion in the capital, strengthen the coherence of the forces in London determined to stop the "Third Way" from going through, and to discuss the question of what the alternative is to the party-dominated system of government.

Three meetings of the London Political Forum are to be held during the election campaign at Marx House, Clerkenwell Green, on Wednesday evenings, May 16, 23 and 30, at 7.30 pm sharp. Invited speakers will share their experience on their struggles against the anti-social offensive, and all comers are invited to participate in the political discussion.

The programme of the three meetings of the London Political Forum will be on the right to education and against the privatisation of public services, on the safeguarding of the future of the health service, on upholding the dignity of the national minority communities, and against globalisation and on the youth controlling their own future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001 Speakers include:

A deputy head teacher, a senior lecturer, an activist in the campaign against the privatisation of Southwark education, and a woman teacher

Wednesday, May 23 and 30, 2001 Speakers to be announced

All meetings taking place at 7.30 pm sharp

LONDON EC1R 0DU (nearest tube: Farringdon)

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