Contribution by Workers Party member Dave Gregson
“WE RESPECT YOUR RIGHT TO CELEBRATE THE CORONATION AS LONG AS YOU RESPECT OUR RIGHT TO PROTEST AT THE CORONATION.”
That is the overriding theme and message from the day? I have long been an opponent of the monarchy system that we have in the United Kingdom and have been an advocate and supporter of a democratically elected head of state for most of my lifetime. It has not and has never been against any individual or person, only the system of having a royal family and the fact that someone is in effect born a head of state and there is no other qualification.
I have and was equally opposed to having non-elected legislators governing in the House of Lords or the “hereditary peerage system”, it has no place in a modern, free, and democratic state, which apportions equal rights and freedoms to all citizens.
The right to peacefully protest is also a foundation of that democracy. This particular protest had been agreed by Graham Smith and the Republic UK leadership with the metropolitan police. Republic only endorses peaceful protest and actions.
I traveled down to London from Yorkshire to attend the demonstration and stayed in London from the 5th to the 7th of May, it is a good distance from Leeds.
When I arrived on the day, as can be imagined it was very busy with crowds of people and many flags and coronation pictures, the first obstacle that I encountered was that the agreed demonstration site was cordoned off and inaccessible, I was then joined by other Republic members and protesters who informed me that they also had not been allowed into the protest site.
Then I was informed that CEO Graham Smith and the entire Republic leadership were arrested as soon as they arrived in London and many flags and banners were taken. This was of course a huge concern and disappointment to many as Graham and the Republic team had engaged and met with the police numerous times over the preceding months.
We then mutually agreed that the protests should go ahead and we should regroup with other members and we congregated at a protest site in Trafalgar Square, where we were joined by many others, I think thousands is the more accurate number than the reported hundreds. There was a large presence of police in attendance and police liaison officers and they were friendly and helpful, they could not of course comment on the arrests earlier in the day.
There was as expected some interaction with the pro-monarch and anti-monarchy factions, however, to be noted very little abuse and hostility, only a couple of incidents and this was from the royalist side. There were people from across all generations and backgrounds and different organisations, there was a friendly feeling and a feeling of solidarity in the cause.
We marched around including Piccadilly and then returned to Trafalgar Square. I was then speaking to someone I met, a lifelong socialist also who had heard about the Workers Party, and I was invited for afternoon coffee and cake. What was also very important to say is that for coffee and cakes, we were joined by a group of monarchy supporters and we had a very amicable and friendly, and positive experience. We talked about where we agreed and disagreed and the issues that brought us together and that was entirely positive. I returned home via the tube back to my lodgings later in the afternoon.
As we know it’s just as important in a democracy to sit down and talk to those we both agree and disagree with. As I state here we respect your right to celebrate and we ask that our right to protest also be respected.
One point that was discussed was the fact that monarchy support should not be linked with patriotism and such, some parts of the media notoriously do this. Republicans are passionate about the patriotic defense of freedoms and their country as any royalists are.
The Union flag is the national flag of the country, not the monarch. The national flag would also fly with an elected head of state.
Republic supporters number a great many & it is growing. Believers and supporters of real democracy, let the people decide democratically and put the issue to a referendum, with Republic UK campaigning for an end to the monarchy and its replacement by a democratically elected and accountable head of state in the United Kingdom.
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