Gaius. There were three types of official looking yellow bibs on the Gleneagles demo. Two comprised our friends the Old Bill, a little disorganised and anxious for once, and the G8 Alternatives stewards, totally disorganised and incompetent. While protesters were busy reclaiming the fields outside the Hotel to stop the summit, G8 Alternative stewards (staffed mostly by everyone’s favourite liberals, the SWP and their allies, who’ve been trying for months to get a seat at the table with Geldof and Bono), were busy telling people to get back on the road, and stay on the agreed route like good boys and girls. After all, they needed to rush back to the field to hear the reassuring tones of Lindsey German and Chris Nineham, who were there to address the masses at 4pm (and it was already 3.30!!!).
Meanwhile on the other side, the stewards had received the same page messages and were literally pushing back folk from trying to do what we’d all come there for (to stop the summit – or at least pester it a little). As protesters insisted that they wanted to finish the march, the stewards unilaterally withdrew from the march and ran back to hear their leaders. Hardly impartial stewarding – in fact some might suggest a bit more like doing the job that the police had singularly failed to do on their behalf.
Eventually the second half of the crowd was let through. The police opened their ranks as they’d told the stewards they would BUT – oh no – not a steward in sight so we couldn’t proceed, Mr Plod informs us. Finally a couple of stewards were discovered cowering under a paving stone, down with a couple of woodlice they’d mistaken for the speakers at the main rally. So we all proceeded on our way to a happy finale. We’d even had the good fortune to miss the Rally by then, and climbed back onto our buses, like the contented toddlers we are.
Oh the third group? Why the Insurgent Rebel Clown Army – beautifully presented, orchestrated and the only group doing something useful. Next time, let’s just follow them.