Some people think that, because children are having to suffer the impacts of cuts in benefits, that Nick Clegg’s children are fair game. Like they had any influence in the tough decisions of Government that have to be made. Have a look at some of the comments on Richard Morris’ New Statesman piece.
Others think that it was just an innocent street party and 400 people turning up in a quiet residential street was just fine. The Clegg family was not home – but what if they had been? What about their neighbours? Whatever you might think about Government decisions, politicians’ partners and children should not have had their lives disrupted.
Imagine if they had been home when these 400 people descended? The children are 10, 8 and 3. To a 3 year old, people outside having a go at your daddy, however nice they think they’re being, could be really scary, the stuff of weeks of nightmares.
Now, note that I am not saying that such protests should be illegal, but with rights come responsibilities. UK Uncut have done their cause no good whatsoever this weekend – and that’s a shame because when it comes to some of the welfare reform cuts, as you know, I agree with them.
UK Uncut will have had to have distributed Nick Clegg’s private address to a fairly large number of people, for a start, the 400 there and anyone they tell. How can they guarantee the conduct of every single person who would turn up. It was ok this time, but at some point, if this continues, someone will turn up with malevolent intent.
I have an extremely low opinion of The Scoundrel Formerly Known as Sir Fred Goodwin, but when protesters attacked his house in Edinburgh, they were not making a point. They were committing acts of vandalism.
Patrick Harvie, leader of the Scottish Greens, told me on Twitter to get a grip when I suggested that Saturday’s protest was completely out of order. I wonder how he’d like it if they were outside his house and he needed to go somewhere. But then Patrick Harvie has never taken any Government responsibility in his life.
My local SNP Councillor Andrew Miller took a different view on Facebook. He’s happy for me to quote him here:
Surely being a politician is his job, not his life. Protest, harass and harangue him all you like when he’s at his job but leave him alone when he’s at home or any other personal time.
People have an easy target in politicians but how would anybody here feel if it was decided to be acceptable that customers from your every day work were allowed to come to your house?
Nick, himself, has been much more measured about the whole thing than I am. He said on Andrew Marr yesterday that he didn’t really feel he should comment on it, but said that he and his wife had deliberately decided not to move into a Government flat because they wanted their kids to have a normal life. It would be a shame if they had to disrupt their lives because of the intimidating and bullying tactics of protesters. And that’s what it is.
All Governments are protested against – and so they should be. When it turns personal, and private worlds are invaded, including those of innocent neighbours and family members, it goes too far. It becomes intimidation. That’s not the sort of country we want to become, whatever the issue.
Apparently, according to some, the protesters are justified because the people live in £1 million houses. That they think they’re fair game makes it all a bit more sinister.
Many of the people who’ve lost their ESA or will lose DLA have a point. I would be there with them. But never, ever outside a private home.