The truth about the anti-cuts demo

The TUC reckons hundreds of thousands gathered in London to protest against the government’s spending cuts programme. At least that’s what the BBC reported; and Sky News; and ITN.

But how was it covered in Libya, where there have been protests of a different nature?

British protests covered on Libyan State TV
Perhaps British domestic broadcasters got it wrong?

NB: The Jamahiriya, or “state of the masses”, is how Col Gaddafi describes Libya under his leadership.

Ignore the picture above, but the strap says it all. It was spelled out first in Arabic, and then in English, perhaps for our benefit here in the UK.

It begs the question: are the BBC, Sky and ITN being entirely honest with their viewers?

On a more serious note, the latest anti-cuts protest was notable for its parallels with tuition fees protests last year. It was hijacked by a small minority for their own purposes, and the media reported that which was most newsworthy, to the detriment of the core protest.

The TUC organisers took sensible steps to separate themselves from anarchists. It was wise, for example, to gather marchers in Hyde Park rather than Trafalgar Square. The General Secretary, Brendan Barber, has rightly criticised the disruptive minority. Politically, this is important.

Organisers of future protests will need to go further. The reputation of hundreds of thousands of protesters is sullied by association with a violent or vandalic minority. Their message threatens to be lost amidst a more colourful news story.

I addressed this issue in December, urging demonstrators to prevent thugs hijacking their protest. But my advice is merely a foundation. It will not be easy, but the leaders of those who seek to protest must do all they can to ostracise those who undermine them.

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