There is a place in the world for direct action. In places where free speech is banned, where human rights abuse go on in an unchecked way and where democracy is only a dream direct action can be the only way of registering your opinion. However, when it comes to the UK, a democracy, I have always been firmly of the opinion that direct action, or low level terrorism is the last stand of those who have lost the argument and who think that democracy is for other people, not them.
There are three basic points of democracy that have to be remembered at all times, even when elected politicians are making decisions you disagree vehemently with.
1) Democracy is not perfect, but it is the least bad system of running a country.
2) In democratic states you can please some of the people some of the time but you will never please all of the people all of the time, which inevitably means that some people will never be happy.
3) If you don't like the democratic politicians we have, if you don't like their decision making skills and if you think they are wrong, go out there, campaign on the issues you think you are right about and make sure that someone else gets elected in their place. Its as simple as that.
So when I see people from the anti Stansted Airport expansion groups storming parliament in an effort, so they claim to "speak to their MP's", forgetting that all the local MP's in that area speak to the anti Stansted expansion groups regularly, to me, they have lost the argument.
I saw on the local news this evening that these same campaigners were cheerfully swapping notes about how much fun they had had. Groups of middle class ladies more used to WI meetings chatting in an excited way about how they had been forced in to direct action because "the government won't listen to them". In short, this group expect the country to be dictated to by a few thousand people who chose to live near a major London airport and are now opposed to its long planned expansion ?
The odd thing is for me that when you hear radical Islamists on the radio justifying why some young people have become radicalised enough to bomb this country, their constant argument is that "the government won't listen so they have been forced in to this direct action". So what is the difference ? Okay, the Stansted brigade are not planting bombs, but they use the same reasons to justify their unlawful actions.
We need to be clear that storming parliament is never correct and should not be accepted as legitimate in out democracy. If the arguments for stopping Stansted are strong and true, they will stand up to scrutiny and the electorate will decide at the next election. If this government or any gives in to minority groups who threaten direct action, where will it all end ?
Democratic means are the way to deal with disputes and the middle classes in leafy Hertfordshire and Essex have to accept this like anyone else.