The Olympic torch’s relay through London will certainly be remembered for three things: official incompetence, police heavy-handedness, and good-old British hypocrisy.
Despite having known that there would be people protesting over China’s treatment of the people of Tibet for months, the official organisation for the event became a disaster from start to finish.
It didn’t take long for the pro- Tibet demonstrators to make their mark. All along the route they were able to evade both the police and security to try and disrupt the proceedings. The police had acted heavy-handedly throughout, arresting around thirty-seven of the demonstrators.
The event had become chaotic by the minute, with organisers making last-minute changes to the route, in one case, the torch was carried through Chinatown. In another, the torch had to make an unscheduled move on a bus. Very few people on the ground knew what was happening.
Then there’s the British hypocrisy. Konnie Huq (who?), the former childrens’ TV presenter, first wanted to pull out of the event, then decided at the last moment to opt back in. I’ll never forget seeing the pictures with her trying to fight off a protester aiming to grab the torch. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been accused by some commentators of failing to criticise China over its human rights record.
Yeah, right… let’s make this VERY clear. The UK has a human rights abuse record just as long as China’s. Years of colonalism, Northern Ireland, and Islamophobia spring to mind….