CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Protest and street politics are essential to our democracy

26 January, 2017

Lawrence Bond

IT is a great pity that neither of our MPs and only one Camden councillor were part of the vigil outside Kentish Town Jobcentre demon­strating over the death of Lawrence Bond who had collapsed and died in the street minutes after he had been told he was “fit to work”.

We are confident, of course, that they did not know of the demonstration otherwise they would have wanted to take part.

Considering that it was organised at short notice the vigil was well attended. Debbie Abrahams MP was quite right to berate the government about the dreadful effect sanctions can have on claimants.

This is sheer common sense – but then when has common sense played a part in political decision-making?

But do not think Mr Bond’s case is an exceptional one. It isn’t. Here in Camden alone we have followed this deplorable story for more than a year.

This week we report the terrible ordeal faced by a woman with HIV and depressed who was ordered to look for work – or face sanctions.

Though we may not agree with some of Terence Flanagan’s comments that lead to his suspension from the Labour Party, he is quite right to urge people to publicly protest at some of the decisions taken by the government.

All of the great reforms in Britain’s political life down the centuries have followed public protest. This is what participatory democracy means.

In recent decades Labour councillors appear to have assumed that politics simply means Town Hall politics. They have forgotten there is such a thing as street politics. The Lib Dems, in their own way, came to power on it.

Cllr Bucknell bows out

THE Town Hall chamber will be a poorer place without the outbursts and antics of councillor Jonny Bucknell.

His demeanour was often at odds with the staid and stunted officialdom often associated with local government. Often outspoken, sometimes downright wrong, he livened-up proceedings and no doubt engaged many along the way.

It seems that fallout from Camden, his own council, mounting a prosecution against him a year ago, led him to consider his position. And what of the purists left in the Town Hall? Are all their records whiter than white?

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