Thursday, February 03, 2011

Up the Revolution!

Watching events in Egypt unfold this week, I've been left pondering exactly what it would take for people in this country to take to the streets en masse and protest in the face of tanks. The closest thing I can recall were the poll tax riots under Thatcher, when thousands of protesters faced mounted police in Central London. More recently, the closest thing to mass insurrection I can remember were the fuel protests, under Blair, when various road hauliers and the like took it upon themselves to blockade oil refineries in an attempt to bring the government to its knees and lower the price of fuel at the pumps. The fact that it cost me nearly sixty five quid to fill up my car the other day shows how successful they were. Interestingly, both of these incidents, it could be argued, were triggered by people's financial fears. It's notable that we've had no mass protests over the gradual erosion of civil liberties in this country. Nor have people taken to the streets protesting at the current government's subverting of the constitution for its own electoral benefit, via the introduction of fixed term parliaments and the redrawing of constituency boundaries. However, put up the price of petrol, or increase their local rates, and they're out on the streets like a flash.

Of course, more recently we've had the protests against university fees, but even these are ultimately financially driven. I know that there's an argument that they also address wider issues of access to higher education, just as the poll tax protests were, at least in part, about the imposition of an unfair tax, I still don't think that either can really be compared to recent events in either Egypt or Tunisia. These protests are clearly about more fundamental issues: freedom, the right to free and fair elections and basic civil rights. Here in the UK we're too complacent - we believe that, just because we get to cast a vote every five years and the press aren't directly controlled by the state, that we've already got all of those things. We're blinded to the gradual and stealthy erosion of our liberties - that sort of thing couldn't happen here, could it? Anyway, I live in hope that this country might yet wake up and take to the streets. When it does, we have to be prepared - if events in Egypt have taught me anything, it is that putting tanks on the streets is crucial. Now, thanks to Cameron's insane cost-cutting, the Army won't have any tanks soon. In fact, they'll be lucky to have any soldiers. Consequently, it seems obvious that any potential revolutionaries need to make out sure that they have tanks in order to gain a decisive advantage. So, that's my Summer holiday sorted - I'm going off on a tank-buying mission. I think Russia, or one of the other former Eastern Bloc countries, represent my best bet. Apparently they have huge 'tank parks', full of unused T-72 and T-62 tanks. Failing that, I thought that Israel might be a good bet - they're bound to have plenty of older tanks knocking about. The great thing about the Israelis, of course, is that they're always updating their equipment, so even their redundant stuff would be pretty advanced. That said, when your opponent is unlikely to have any armour of their own, half a dozen ex-Yugoslav army T-34s of World War Two vintage would probably do...

(NB, for the benefit of anyone from Special Branch or the security forces reading, I'm not really going to buy tanks for the purpose of overthrowing the UK government. It's just an amusing story told for satirical purposes. I know I shouldn't have to spell this out, but you never know who might be reading, and how stupid and literal minded they might be).

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