Not quite the ‘closure’ and ‘healing’ the PM was hoping for
Protests broke out in London and Glasgow last night (December 14), a day after Boris Johnson won a new majority in government. Despite notably little news coverage, livestreams and video shared to social media showed demonstrators marching to oppose the leadership and, at times, clashing with police as they tried to hold them back.
In London, the march took hundreds of protesters past Downing Street, then into Trafalgar Square and along the Thames. Several times, scuffles broke out as police tried to keep up and block the march, and video shows them drawing their batons on protesters. Eventually, around 200 were secured in a police cordon.
Chants touched on some of the most sensitive topics of the election, including the NHS (“save our NHS”), the treatment of refugees (“say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here”).
The prevailing message though, was one of all-encapsulating resistance to Boris Johnson as prime minister, with the crowds chanting “not my prime minister” and, simple and straight-to-the-point: “Fuck Boris.”
Meanwhile, protesters in Glasgow reportedly reached the thousands as they gathered in one of the city’s main shopping streets, echoing the chants of the southern protesters.
Both protests reflect results across the UK. While Labour’s “red wall” came down across the midlands and the north of England, the party remained relatively strong in London, while the SNP experienced a landslide victory in Scotland, taking 48 seats (while the Tories and Labour lost seven and six, respectively).
This might have something to do with the fact that both areas are strongholds for Remain voters. Elsewhere in the country, voters have been swayed towards the Conservatives by Boris Johnson’s endless repetition of “get Brexit done”.
However, for the SNP, the unrest also signals the potential result of a future independence referendum, which party leader Nicola Sturgeon has said Johnson has “no right” to block.
Obviously, the protests (and their lack of coverage by mainstream news outlets) have also provoked some strong opinions online. While some claim that demonstrating against the result of an election is undemocratic, others have pointed out that democracy actually depends on the right to protest and have your voice heard.
More protests in London too. 👏👏 People saying protesting is anti democracy have completely missed the point, actually democracy includes the right to disagree with political outcomes and protest them. We don't live in a dictatorship. https://t.co/ajtSpeGblO— Elizabeth ⚡ (@strengthtodream) December 13, 2019
Others have pointed to page 48 of the Tory manifesto – which argues for abolishing the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, rewriting the relationship between parliament and the courts, and “updating” the Human Rights Act in the name of “national security and effective government” – as a justification for protest in itself.