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Anti-lockdown protests – how should we react?

Comment Editor Samuel Pennifold on the recent anti-lockdown protests. 

The most recent anti-lockdown protest in the UK raises an interesting question, how do we react to the disenfranchised? 

It would be all but easy to laugh at the protestors and label them stupid, but if we are going to rightly defend those who protest in the name of women’s rights then we must also support those who fulfil the promise of democracy for a cause less righteous. 

Protesting is a fundamental right for any citizen of a democracy and if one person or one thousand choose to protest any issue no matter how unfounded they may be then we should support that right. I would not stand with anyone protesting a proven life-saving vaccine but I will defend their right to do so to the hilt.

It is often some of the most disenfranchised, the poorest and the furthest left behind in society who are labelled who are ‘blamed’ by our generation or the liberal-minded anyway, for seemingly unpopular, policies or events like Brexit or the election of Trump. However, these are the same people who are right to be angry about the world.  I, like so many others, was angry after the Brexit vote but that does not mean my anger was anymore well-founded than those angered by our EU membership in the first place. I was angry about what I felt was a future being stolen away from me, what I did not consider was the future stolen away from those who have been left behind by a modern and globalised world.

The UK’s small towns once hubs of mining, industry and thriving societies are now black holes of despair, similar to America’s rust belt or the diagonale du void of France. These are the areas that lost jobs as they moved around the world to lift others out of poverty. These are the people who lost their jobs when steel from China became cheaper. These are the areas where the benefits of globalisation did not reach.

Yes, more people have been helped by globalisation than those who have lost out, especially if you look on the global scale. But how do you tell that to the white working-class boy who is the most unlikely person in this country to go to university, but one of the most likely to need free school meals. If this person is given someone to blame for their grievances and told to support a cause like the anti-lockdown or anti-vacation movement by someone who says they will help them can you begrudge them believing that? 

If these people are angry about a lockdown that adversely affects those from a working-class background or hesitant about a vaccine not produced in the factories they or their family once worked in regardless of race, religion or creed we have no right to dismiss them out of hand. There is a duty to educate and alleviate all those who are left behind, regardless of the reason. 

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