Some people think that demos and marches are pointless. They have, of course, every right to their opinions. Only the most naive and optimistic would imagine that the authorities take one look at a banner-waving crowd and go: oops, better change our plans right away.
Some people, looking at the events of the last week (the Revoke Article 50 petition and the march yesterday) might still think that it’s pointless, that the government will do whatever they want to do anyway, but it’s worth remembering that petitions and protest marches have formed part of the strategy of pretty much every campaign for change.Sometimes they are about numbers, sometimes more about spectacle.
That’s not all, though. The thing about going on a demo is that it shows you you are not alone. It shows you that other people care as much as you do about the thing it is that you’re marching for – or against. The past week seemed to bring about a definite change in the atmosphere, which culminated in the #PeoplesVoteMarch being what may have been the biggest demo in the UK this century. There was an increased feeling of hope, this week. The march itself was genuinely amazing: the most people I have ever seen in one place at one time, and overwhelming kindness, warmth, solidarity all round. Quite early on, someone pointed out how there were all these people walking across the grass and yet absolutely everyone was managing not to tread on the tulips, for example. As far as I can tell from looking at all the reporting of the event, despite the huge numbers, there was not a single arrest. There were the usual array of smart, funny, angry and creative banners. And there were people feeling more powerful, less scared, and a little more optimistic than they had been.
We’re still in a position of not knowing exactly what the fuck is going to happen over the next few weeks (latest news is that there’s been a temporary delay so it doesn’t all go tits up on Friday). There are still going to be people feeling bitterly at odds with their workmates, relatives and friends (yes, there are still some very noisy Leavers stamping and bellowing.) But there is more hope. There is.