The day before I go away on a very long trip, the Climate Camp only goes and pitches up on my doorstep, doesn’t it? Blackheath’s going to have two attractions this bank holiday weekend – but did nobody tell the campers that whenever the fair comes to town, heavy rain is sure to follow?
I took a peek at what was going on late this afternoon, as about 300 campers gathered around to hear speeches reminding them why they’re on the heath – because it’s got a prime place in the history of English popular protest, starting with Wat Tyler’s Peasants Revolt of 1381. They were keenly watched by about 70 media types and a circling police meat wagon (not to forget the helicopter hovering “discreetly” over Kidbrooke).
I hope it all goes well – I really wish I was going to be around to check in on them. Curious? Go up and say hello, they’re a friendly crowd. I also hope the police don’t indulge in the oafish tactics their Kent counterparts used last year against last year’s camp (never mind the uniformed thuggery seen at the G20 protests). I have a feeling it will be alright – nobody can get away with acting like an idiot on Blackheath, because it’s one of the most public places in London.
Er… right, Steve. Have you thought about going up to the camp and saying hello to the protesters? You might even find they’re normal people, just like yourself! Or maybe it’s easier to sit on your backside and judge them straight away? Perhaps he should be disassociating Lewisham Council from Millwall Football Club on the same principle. In a recent speech, he said young people were the future and must not be failed – but only when they do as his generation says, I suppose. Considering his own Labour party was founded off the back of popular protest, it’s a staggeringly idiotic thing for a politician to to say. Still, it’s more votes for the Greens in that borough, I suppose.
On this side, Greenwich Council has issued a statement to “confirm that the main focus of the event is taking place on the Lewisham side of the heath”. Well, thanks for that. (Greenwich Greens have welcomed the camp.)
It’ll be an interesting week ahead. I hope the campers aren’t expecting to get too much sleep – they’ve managed to pick the noisest bit of Blackheath, although it is near the tea hut, the pub, and Lewisham and Greenwich are just a skip down each hill. I hope, though, that they prove to be good neighbours. And that the police and media don’t get on everybody’s nerves. And hey – as the ice cream van above shows, climate camp can be good for your business…