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Politics: Yellow Vests and Protests

France has appeared to be on the verge of a national crisis over recent weeks with President Macron’s imposition of fuel taxes resulting in the violent demonstrations seen by people wearing the yellow vests that must be carried in every car.

Ordinary people in France felt that they were not being listened to by their elected government, one that was supposed to serve the people. In the UK, the Independent newspaper used the line, ‘How hollow Macron’s pledges sound now…’ as the increases in tax were scrapped as tear gas was used to suppress the demonstrations.

The protests seen in the UK this December, almost echoing those in France, although not over fuel taxes, are essentially due to the same thing – a feeling by ordinary people that they are not being listened to. The blocking of London Bridge by people protesting over Brexit was not in the same league as the violence seen in Paris however. The British tend to be less emotional when it comes to protests and by and large our demos are usually fairly peaceful (although we have had our moments).

What made the London Bridge incident more noteworthy was that the protesters were speaking out in favour of Brexit and other demonstrations have been aimed at Members of Parliament like Anna Soubry, who was surrounded by police protection officers after she was targeted.

Since she has made plain not only her opposition to brexit but her determination to stop it, it is not really a surprise that she has been on the end of protests. Fellow Tory MP Nick Boles has also been the subject of a protest, this time from his own constituency association, who said that Boles faces deselection after the MP said that he would rather see the Government fall than vote for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Similar comments have been made regarding other pro-EU MPs, like Dominic Grieve.

People are protesting because the House of Commons is full of MPs who seem to want to ignore the wishes of a majority and who do not wish to listen to the people they are supposed to serve - just like the protestors in France.

This is also being seen elsewhere in Europe with the rise of anti-EU movements across the continent. Perhaps it is time politicians woke up and remembered that it is the taxes levied on ordinary people, and paid by them, that pay the usually generous salaries of those they elect.

Our elected representatives must be held to account.

© Lee Sibley 2018.

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