‘Our System is Broken, What Do We Do?’ An Open Letter From #OccupyDemocracy

001 BillBy Daniel Ashman, Parliament Square Occupier

I came to Parliament square on the Sunday not knowing what to expect nor having much expectation. I did a quick interview with Donnacah McCarthy the former deputy chair of Liberal Democrats party. He had been staying over night and had faced potential arrest a number of times for holding a sign. Talks were given from John Christiansen from the tax justice network and a lady whose name I can’t remember but both dealt with the siphoning off of money from the uk economy which amounts to an estimated 120 billion pounds a year with the aid of the City of London tax haven network and assurance of the protection from Parliament and the forces it commands. I knew that the demonstration taking part was hugely important. I had seen on the livestream the officious nature of trying to quell and nurture the form of the assembly and it’s expression. It was happening in a fairly unspectacular British way.

The police were ordered by someone higher up to do the bidding of private security of the square. The private security were ordered by someone higher up to blackmail people with arrest into giving their name and details if they had a backpack that contained equipment that would provide the means of shelter and warmth.

Parliament square thought to be a public space for expression and assembly is a private space controlled by the GLA (Greater London Authority). Amplified sound is banned in this space. The noise of the motors, the cathedral bell ringing et all have the luxury of having no sanction restriction on their noise and ultimate long term dominance. Holding signs with writing is banned in the space. Attempts to communicate in such a form is considered a crime. Holding signs across the road from where decisions are being made considered to be an act worthy of a fine or even incarceration. This is England 2014.

It is worth noting that the person that runs the Greater London Authority has privatised a square using public funds. This is not in the interest of the general public but in the interest of people that do not wish to have their power contested. Ironically this situation is a pattern of the entire snowflake, it is a microcosm of the bigger picture. As Parliament square that masquerades as a democratic space open to all, Parliament masquerades as the conduit of public representation and interest. However in fact both have been captured and corrupted by corporate interests. Essentially privatised. With just a rubber stamping of a allusion to public mandate. Of which roughly 40 percent of the voting population choose to do.

The revolving door between corporations and the legislature, cash for access, party donations, peerage to lobbyists that end up in the house of lords, non elected members of parliament, “independent” think tanks that are far from independent.

This explains why people are going hungry, being made homeless, being killed by the stress of being forced into work, whilst child poverty is on the up, poisonous energy infrastructure is rolled out, indebted servitude through crazy uni loans for the next generation coming of age, the mission creep of a privatised healthcare and many crimes of certain quarters in this two tiered legal system are protected despite the evidence and observation.

Those that create and impose these shameful conditions have little respect for human rights of the general public’s or the necessity of such a space in order to seek redress and remedy. How can the public communicate grievance, observations of harm when all avenues have been exhausted and seemingly criminalised?

The first evening I was there we found ourselves surrounded by 140 police officers. The majority were Met police, a small contingent were from the City of London. Their group were used as the muscle. They must of missed Occupy, wished to send a message for their unwanted exposure a few years back and stick their boot in.

We were sitting on a few sheets of tarpaulin in order to prevent us from getting damp and muddy. It was a practical necessity in order to keep the form of the demonstration going 24 hours a day over a 9 day period. But those giving the orders didn’t want us to even have that.

Before I was dragged out I watched a fella get his head forcefully wrenched back and dragged away by the clowns in uniform. We started chanting “Give us our human rights!” and “Its only a piece of plastic!” couldn’t help but point out the City of London’s polices shit record on combating crime in their own district, one of the hubs of criminality that caused the crash, the crash being the excuse to further steal the commonly owned community assets that are open access regardless of wealth. Of course they came for me soon after. I have not seen it yet but was told the footage of their oppressive behavior went around the world.

Again I found it to be a mirror, a pattern that has parallels with the larger culture of politics. The City of London of has a permanent unelected person in the house of commons called the remembrancer to watch over all of the house of commons decisions. They have someone positioned in the treasury and they have a 4.5 billion pound war chest in order to lobby the legislature, though the difference between lobbying with such money and a bribe I can not distinguish. Like that Sunday evening they are in part responsible of destroying a pivotal part of a functioning democracy.

I must admit I was seething afterwards, I went round the police line shouting “behold our great democracy!”, behold “the true terrorists weapon, Taurpaulin!” There are so many crimes being committed on big scales, it dumfounded me, it was obvious this was politically motivated policing designed to intimidate and destroy the form of our chosen harmless expression. After the florescent squad disbanded one of ours picked up a small ripped piece of tarpaulin no bigger than a dish cloth and lifted in the air as people danced and cheered. That broke my anger and made me focus.

That eve we sat and met some lovely strangers and old friends, a fella called Rory played the guitar, we lit candles, Russel Brand came with loads of Pizzas and did his best to contribute and draw attention. The boxes came in handy to sit on and the pizza’s were a welcome unexpected luxury. That evening people were fairly relaxed all things considered. Though we still had the specter of the officers surrounding us who have to follow orders in order to receive pay.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary is dependent on him not understanding it.”

I didn’t sleep. Come seven o’clock we decided to get one of the large banners out that read “REAL DEMOCRACY NOW.” This is our demand. It was so big it took about eight people to hold. We took it in turns until just past mid day. Jenny Jones had also paid a visit that morning and bought some tea, she expressed great concern on what she heard. I was worried for a bit that perhaps the display of police aggression over four sheets of tarpaulin had put people off. Then people started to arrive with banners and tarps. Was so tired by this point I was struggling to hold a conversation. Though it was illegal fall asleep.

Time and time again our community members are shown contempt. The public trust has been broken. So what must we do?

13 thoughts on “‘Our System is Broken, What Do We Do?’ An Open Letter From #OccupyDemocracy

  1. Pingback: ‘Our System is Broken, What Do We Do?&rsq...

  2. A great article…
    I dont usually write stuff on these sites but found I had to…
    I dont know much about politics but over tbe last few years have been reading various blogs…
    I think we really need a very large turnout of people to do a really good protest … like say a few thousand of us in one go … I am not any good at leading but would follow a leader that can organise this,
    I know it would be hard to organise but if it could I for one would certainly be there…
    Thank you

  3. Nice one Kerry. You know all this of course, but I’ll leave it here anyway if that’s ok:

    What needs to happen to create a genuine democracy?

    The first thing that needs to happen is the ability to withhold consent formally at an election needs to be established. The only way to do that is by including a None of the Above (NOTA) option on the ballot paper with formalised consequences for the result if it ‘wins’ i.e.: a re-run national election or by-elections where necessary.

    Spoiling the ballot is not withholding consent formally as those spoilt in protest can be lumped in with those spoilt in error rendering any figure meaningless as a measure of voter discontent. Abstaining is not the same either as it can be dismissed as voter apathy with no further analysis. NOTA is the only way to do this.

    All other electoral reforms, changes to the voting system etc., are desirable but not essential so can easily be ignored. NOTA, by contrast, is a democratic pre-requisite that cannot be argued against, once properly understood, without arguing against democracy itself. This is because consent is central to the concept of democracy, but if you cannot withhold consent your consent is immaterial.

    With enough widespread understanding of this fact and support for getting NOTA in place, it ought to be achievable in the short to mid term as an government concession to keep the peace. This is essentially how votes for women and the welfare state were won. They weren’t gifts, they were concessions. So could it be with NOTA.

    Once in place, a levelling of the playing field and organic cleaning up of politics would occur.

    At NOTA UK, our proposal is that to avoid voter fatigue and political instability, in the result of a NOTA ‘win’, the next placed candidate or party should take office but only temporarily, for six months to a year depending on the ‘win’ margin, while the logistics of the re-run/by-elections are put in place.

    This would not only avoid the pitfalls mentioned, it would give the caretaker MP or government a chance to prove themselves worthy ahead of the re-run/by-elections and their opponents a chance to regroup. The knock on effect ought to be that all concerned would have no choice but to adapt their policies to the will of the majority, NOTA voters included, in order to win.

    From there, the possibility of further, lasting democratic reform would be possible.

    Until NOTA is in place, it is difficult to see how or why anything would change in the corridors of power. Activism alone won’t do it. we need to change the rules of the game as well.

    Find out more and get involved with the campaign for real and lasting electoral reform here: http://notauk.org/

    Please sign the petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/inclusion-of-an-official-none-of-the-above-option-for-all-uk-elections-2

    The first of our four part video series answering all the usual questions can be seen here: http://notauk.org/nota-video-series/

    • Maybe NOTA would be good in 5yrs time but the political apathy in this country needs to be fixed first.

      I’ll be voting Green because they are the only party prepared to challenge the existing structures of our undemocratic nation.

      Also considering cancelling my TV license in protest at BBC refusal to include Green Party from Leaders debate despite 200,000 signature petition.

      Step one has to be to support NHS campaigners who are doing a 24hr vigil on 20th November.

      Step two use social media to create trends, followers and supporters. #occupydemocracy #notottip #NHSvigil #march4nhs #18oct #criticalmass

      Step three get more people to go to the Polling stations at General election and do what they want with their ballot paper.

      I was at Parliament square on 18th and 23rd. Law enforcement was prejudiced towards business, celebs and tourists. Yet another example of our broken Justice.

    • I guess reading this a few days ago, sunk in and inspired me yesterday to write the blog post at the link. I guess it goes to a similar thing about the “system” generally, not having re-red this one.

      Have a look, be ready for my inimitable style, of humor, sarcasm, cynicism and inspired ideas about what’s coming at humanity for our own transgressions, in the post going to over-consumption, etc, and how We, The People, in a Utopian “Idealand”, might fix it. At least lessen the drama for our coming generations.


  4. ~ what to do ? ?

    ~ the best advice I can offer it to STUDY the information on my blog, http://www.EcoTort.blogspot.co.uk then share it with everyone, workshop it, become familiar with it, then educate the Police, so they KNOW THE LAW and are empowered to arrest the corporate criminals who are destroying the Planet which the Police, (and the Armed Forces, Secret Services, of EVERY country in the World) AND ALL THEIR CHILDREN also have to Live on, along with the rest of us ::))) <3

  5. What to do? What can we do, but hang in there and keep talking to one another about the whole experience of abuse. it was ABUSE of huge and disgusting scale One of my worries is that those who find it harder to contain themselves will continually get themselves busted for minor infractions of the law and thereby potentially screw up their futures, though I guess they feel this is worth sacrificing…. Personally I feel desperate that we live in such an extremely punitive system now. Foolishly I kinda avoided it til it happened if you know what I mean. BUT we all need to hang onto the fact that whether the public like the way we do our resistance, WE ARE on the side of righteousness and draw strength from that
    Did any of our folks suffer any serious injuries that needed hospitalisation?
    Having a kid with me often means I am simply not in a position to get arrested but that doesn’t stop me seeing the brutality of Some cops

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