In the end, the ‘Day of Rage’ was a bit of a damp squib. Hundreds of pre-prepared signs were left unclaimed by the seething masses who failed to appear.
The protest did appear in the press, but not in relation to a widespread public disorder or the collapse of the regime. No, ‘wasting police time’ is the most damning Establishment headline that the ‘Movement for Justice’ managed to elicit.
We should always be grateful when, at a time of political uncertainty and very hot weather, political violence is avoided. Especially when senior political figures do their best – until they lose their nerve – to egg it on.
John McDonnell has form on this front. Tom Harris, his former colleague on the Labour benches, sets out in some detail in the Daily Telegraph how the now-Shadow Chancellor championed the mob that attacked Millbank, then the Conservative Party headquarters, in 2011.
Going further, he specifically spoke up against the jailing of the man who threw a fire extinguisher from the top of the tower, putting lives at risk: “That kid didn’t deserve 36 months [sic]. Actually he’s not the criminal. The real criminals are the ones that are cutting the education services and increasing the fees… We’ve got to encourage direct action in any form it can possibly take.”
Like Jeremy Corbyn, another man of supposedly unbending principle who trimmed his sails during the election, McDonnell is finding it tough to sustain at the top of a his party. Hence his scramble to try to put some distance between himself and any disorder by urging people to “follow the lead of Gandhi”.
But we should not forget – nor allow the Labour moderates now tripping over themselves to reconcile with their leadership to forget – the sort of politics their Shadow Chancellor really supports.