Credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

Ruth Coppinger: What we need is a “derogation” for “essential” protests

This is so stupid that it’s going to be hard to get 700 words in, explaining exactly how stupid it is. But we’ll give it a go:

A former TD says a derogation should be made for essential protests during the pandemic.

It comes amid plans for protests demanding more be done to tackle violence against women….

….{It has} prompted former Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger to arrange a protest here in Ireland demanding change.

She told Newstalk Breakfast protests such as this are essential.

“Myself and ROSA [Socialist Feminist Movement] are planning some protests – actually now, more have been called in cities this week: in the five cities in the south and in Belfast tomorrow as well.

First question: What is an “essential” protest?

Well, we don’t know, but we can take a reasonable guess, based on Ruth Coppinger’s personal views in relation to what protests she has supported, and which ones she has condemned, during lockdown.

For example: Protesting a police shooting in Minnesota, USA? That would be essential.

Protesting the loss of your job and the continued economic hardships imposed by lockdown? That would be far right fascism.

Protesting a woman being killed in London? Essential. Protesting plans to build a direct provision centre in your local village? Racism.

There is outrage on the left in Britain at the moment (which means that there most be outrage on the left in Ireland, because solidarity) about the police response to the Sarah Everard vigil/protest that took place on Saturday evening. Outrage, to some extent, is justified: In a modern, western, democracy, the right to protest and gather to express political views is sacrosanct. For the police to break up any such gathering, so long as the gathering was peaceful, is outrageous.

But outrageous does not mean it was illegal. The laws that the police feel compelled them to break up the Everard protest are the same laws that the UK Government has enacted for everyone. The only thing that’s selective here is the outrage. Imagine, for example, that the police had taken to breaking up a protest in London by Nigel Farage and the lads, opposing the lockdown, or French Fish, or whatever else is bothering Nigel these days. Do we think that there’d have been social media outrage about the police crushing dissent? Or would there have been cheers?

The key difficulty, of course, is that for the left, left wing protests are essential, and all other protests are a form of fascism. It’s not a coincidence that in countries that have had proper socialist Governments – from Cuba, to the USSR, to Poland and East Germany, all protests have been banned. Once Ruth and her mates get into power, there’s no need for any more protests.

Once you understand that, you’ll understand that for Coppinger, et al, protests are never actually about protesting at all. If you’re Ruth Coppinger, you don’t go to a protest about Sarah Everard because you give a flying fig about Sarah Everard – you go because protest about issues like this is the best way of radicalising the proletariat behind the socialist revolution. Once the revolution has been achieved, there’ll be no need for protests any more.

Essential protests, then, are those that advance revolutionary socialism. All other protests are sort of dangerous.

That’s what she believes.

And what are the consequences of that, were she to get her way? Well, is a protest really a protest if the Government has declared it “essential”? And if the Government does declare a protest “essential”, is it permissible…. not to go? After all, what kind of citizen are you, if you don’t show up at an “essential” protest?

There’s much focus in the media these days about so-called “far right” extremism. But in Ruth Coppinger, the country has one of the most extremist politicians imaginable, and she’s been elected twice. It’s a good job for all of us that she’s more of a comic character than a danger to win power, any time soon.

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