Well shame on commentators, is all I can say. The TUC haven't fallen for all this divide and conquer nonsense. UK Uncut haven't either. The march didn't all go a bit wrong, it was a terrific success, but people like me, who spend their time offering opinions that they assume the country want to hear have lined up to criticise, analyse and judge.
I was fuming when the BBC and Sky switched away from Ed Miliband's speech to show split screen footage of a few rowdy vandals smashing up Oxford Street.
"What about the other half a million?" I yelled in frustration at the TV screen? What about the people patiently waiting to hear exactly what approach the Labour leader would take? What about the carnival-family-day-out atmosphere that was obviously the overwhelming message of the day?
I was cross with the media, not the protesters per se. It is totally inevitable that at any march where 100s of 1000s of people take to the streets with a host of different objectives and fears, a handful will try to spoil the party. Is that news? Really? Is it more newsworthy that 150 or so hooded rebels threw a few paint bombs than that up to half a million people turned up to make a very important point? A footnote perhaps, but the main story?
It was perfectly clear to anyone watching all day on Saturday, that the TUC march, the UK Uncut peaceful protest and the Black Block anarchists were three very distinct groups. That the media chose to morph them into one, was entirely predictable too.
I didn't comment before last night. Not once. The media had shown me police officers acting with incredible good nature under attack, but I'd also seen protesters kettled and dragged to the ground. I wasn't there. How can I say who started it? Who was at fault? More to the point why does it matter?
In every protest throughout history, those with power and influence have sought to divide and conquer those without. If I criticise UK Uncut, or even the balaclava'd rioters, I fall for the oldest trick in the book - judging those that are broadly on my side and I divert the debate from the very cause we aim to highlight.
I chose to support the TUC march from home. I desperately wanted the peaceful, reasonable voices of the "silent majority" to be heard.
At the same time, I am a great supporter of Movement for Change, the direct action group that first David Miliband and now the entire Labour Party will be pursuing as a grass-roots movement to re-engage those who think politics has let them down. What better way of doing that; what better example of firm but peaceful direct action could there be than sitting amongst the luxurious goodies of Fortnum and Mason's food hall eating curled up packed lunches and drinking pop. As anarchists go, it all looked terribly middle class and good natured to me.
Finally, (and I couldn't give a fig if controversially) if a small (less than 0.01%) group of dispossessed, disenfranchised public feel they have no other outlet than to throw a few paint bombs and smash a few windows, well is that a capital crime? Was anyone hurt? Killed? Injured? I haven't heard that they were. The argument that violence against property is a legitimate response to violence against the fabric of our society has at least somevalidity. It always has and it always will. Surely we ought to be asking ourselves why these people feel more peaceful forms of protest won't achieve anything? Sure, they should face prosecution for criminal damage, but in the end, the suffragettes felt that breaking the law was the only way to get their message across - none of this is new.
The front pages of our newspapers the following day gave the UK flaming streets and balaclava'd hoodies - does that mean the rebels high-jacked the march or that the media insisted that they did?
With column inches stretching into miles on who was at fault and why it all went wrong, didn't we just play right into their hands? Well done to the "Progressive Majority" for falling for divide and conquer - have we never learnt anything at all? We didn't refuse to be drawn, we didn't focus purely on how successful the day was overall, we didn't take the line that EVERYONE in London that day were simply trying to make their voices heard and move on to the main issue - an alternative to swingeing cuts that will harm us all. Oh no! We bickered and we judged and we criticised.
By blaming others and looking to create our own divisions, we allowed the media and politicians to achieve exactly what they hoped to. We've spent nearly 4 days gazing at our own navels rather than focussing on just what an enormous overall success the day was.
Whether you lean towards anarchy or democratic opposition, the real fight is over there - look! - over there! Where the cuts are being made, where the sick and disabled have no voice, where students and other young people face a terribly bleak future. The real fight is over the privatisation of the NHS and the cuts to the arts, sport and pensions. Will we EVER learn?
The next time there's a march, let's assume the following : (We don't need a crystal ball)
-Most of it will be peaceful.
-A few will choose to take direct action.
-A tiny few will want seek to make a more violent point.
However hard the media and vested interests try to tear us apart, however hard the coalition try to imply that all protesters are ignorant, radicals, can we PLEASE not give them a single column - in fact not a single word - not a single apostrophe - that does their job for them?