Who closed the river on Jubilee weekend?

June 9 2012

I meant to write a long blog about what I got up to on Jubilee weekend (my views are staunchly republican) but ended up taking a bit of time off instead. Which was long overdue and, I hope, deserved. Here’s an interesting thing that few have pointed out, though. The official Republic protest by the Thames was pretty well disrupted by being split in two. Anyone arriving after around 12 o’clock couldn’t get into the protest site, underneath City Hall. Not even press were allowed in unless they’d registered beforehand.

A lot of people blamed the police who managed to extinguish the protest so successfully – but as far as I could tell it was nothing to do with the Met. Rather it was these guys, More London, who  own the development near Tower Bridge. Republic liaised with them before the event, but weren’t warned of the restrictions on numbers until the gates were closed on the day. It might seem like a dirty tactic to break one modestly sized demo into two tiny and ignorable ones, but the thing is, everyone was banned from the area. There were thousands of people out to support the Queen looking for a way down to the waterfront, walking up and Tooley Street and far more annoyed than the protesters.

So rather than being a shadowy conspiracy to neuter a democratic protest, it looks more like it was a horrible and indiscriminate example of the evils inherent in corporate ownership of public space. Nice.

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