Say It With Food

Throwing Eggs at Ministers is Good for Democracy

By George Monbiot. Published on the Guardian website, 17th May 2001

Two months ago an environmental protester called Jerry Middleton took part in the stupidest game show on television. Channel 5’s Touch the Truck forces contestants to stand beside a Toyota Landcruiser, keeping one hand on it at all times. The last person left standing wins the car. While the other contestants were carried away in ambulances, Jerry hung on for three and a half days.

He didn’t want the car, but he wanted the money. As soon as he had sold it, he bought six secondhand coaches and founded the Unrepresented People’s Party. The coaches will tour the country, seeking to reach the people left cold by the election. In a fair world, he’d be the next Prime Minister.

As Paddy Ashdown suggested this morning, it’s not apathy that will keep people away from the polls, but antipathy. Tony Blair and William Hague appear to be the only people in Britain with no conception of how much they are reviled.

Blair is seen by millions as squandering the best opportunity for radical change in fifty years. Terrified of corporate power, desperate to retain the marginal wards of Middle England, he appears to be seeking only to beat the Conservatives at their own game: refusing to tax the rich, quietly privatisating what remains of the public sector, pouring money that should have gone into schools and hospitals into prisons, abandoning the environment. A two-bit corporate contractor, he is implementing the economic inevitabilities of a world dominated by big business. On behalf of his clients, and in tacit collusion with the opposition, Blair has sought to take the politics out of politics.

This, then, is the age of the egg. When a party’s agenda has been set elsewhere, there’s little point in seeking to reason with it. If you want to make a splash in politics, make it on a politician’s suit. Clare Short has taken receipt of four custard pies, Nick Brown of a chocolate eclair, Tony Blair of some overripe organic tomatoes. John Prescott was egged into apoplexy. There’s no other way they’re going to listen. So say it with food.