The member of parliament for Tottenham, David Lammy MP, was conspicuous by his absence from Saturday’s peaceful vigil for Mark Duggan. By contrast, the member for Hackney, Dianne Abbot MP, was there in support of the Duggan family and in solidarity with the community, and was warmly welcomed.
But when David made his excuses, it turns out not to have been his fault: he was prevented from attending by people who hold anarchist political beliefs. We thought this was as disingenuous as it is injurious, and this is our response…
dem wi’gi` whey dem talent to di state
an’di black workin’ class andahrate
dem wi’ side wid oppressah
w’en di goin’ get ruff
side wid aggressah
w’en di goin’ get tuff
dem a black petty-booshwah
dem full of flaw
We read with interest the news that you declined the invitation from the Duggan family to attend Mark’s vigil at the weekend over concerns about sharing a platform with anarchist groups. We thought this a pathetic excuse; we also thought it both dangerous and disingenuous to place people who believe in the values of anarchism in the same category as the likes of the EDL or extremist groups.
By ‘platform’, did you mean the actual steps of Tottenham Police Station? Because we were there and we didn’t hear anyone declare anarchist beliefs from them. Had you been there, we think you’d have found it hard to discern what anyone’s political beliefs were; there was the occasional nod to socialist values, which one assumes you’d at least profess to share, but other than that the ‘platform’ was united only by its calls for both justice and peace.
But you claim you won’t share a platform with anyone who won’t accept a jury’s decision. Are you honestly claiming to believe in the absolute flawlessness of the jury system? Because we only need mention two words to you if that’s the case: Guilford Four. And if you’d further claim that the police are incapable of manipulating the outcome of a legal process (let’s not forget that this was only an inquest rather than the criminal trial it should have been/would have been if the trigger was in either of our hands), then I need only remind you of another two: Stephen Lawrence.
As for ‘extreme protest groups’, the absence of any extreme protest on Saturday shows this for the red herring it is. But are you seriously able to claim that Mandela was a great role model, as you recently did, at the same time as dismissing extreme protest altogether? One assumes that you look back on the window-smashing campaign of the suffragettes, which gained women political emancipation in this country, with the same admiration at their strength, courage and resilience? When extreme wrongs occur, extreme protest has often been the response.
The part that we find personally insulting and injurious is the claim that you won’t share a platform with people who hold anarchist beliefs – a peaceful political doctrine, one which calls for the equality of all people. We’d like you to explain what it is about our beliefs you find so abhorrent that you’d dismiss us out of hand? What is it about anarchism that you find unacceptable? Should people be reporting their anarchist neighbours? You’re a member of parliament, so one assumes that you can’t be so politically naive as to fall for the Daily Mail characterisation of an entire political belief system as violent or chaotic; then again, you may be politically aware enough to know that you’ll likely get away with this characterisation, and can consequently afford to kick anarchists about as a scapegoat for your own inaction.
Had you been there, you’d have seen that Saturday’s vigil was beautiful, peaceful and powerful. Had you been there you may have been able to give the community even more strength, or at least assured them that their ‘representative’ in parliament is listening – that they have someone’s ear in that big, dusty, mainly white, edifice of power. As Stafford Scott reminded us, this is what Tottenham’s MPs did in the past: they came to the defence of their community, gave them power and strength; as it is, you can only make snarky insinuations about those who did bother to come out for the community on Saturday.
You’d probably have more authority when dismissing people who don’t believe in leaders if you weren’t, in the same breath, doing such a woeful job of being a leader yourself.
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