As the local constituency MP for central London, I share much of the disgust felt by any right thinking person following the violence and damage to property perpetrated by a small minority of breakaway protestors during the Trade Union Congress (TUC) march on Saturday. Whilst the organisers attempted to evoke the spirit of the suffragettes and civil rights movement I suspect the vast majority of the British public will remember the protests for the violent scenes and wanton criminal damage.
The Ritz Hotel and Fortnum & Masons are wonderful British institutions with a global reputation, much loved by countless Britons and the millions of tourists who visit London ever year. No-one can accuse me of being a slavish defender of the Metropolitan Police (please see my article of September 2008: The State of the Metropolitan Police). However, I reckon the police had a supremely difficult balancing act to perform on Saturday. We are fortunate enough to live in an open and free society and it is impossible to prevent thugs intent on causing trouble from doing so without completely shutting down London’s major thoroughfares. Nevertheless, I hope in the post mortem after Saturday’s events we can ensure that internationally renowned institutions such as the Ritz Hotel and Fortnum & Masons will be more adequately protected in future.