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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Why Tahrir Square is not Trafalgar Square

It was obvious that someone would try to link The Fight Against the Cuts to protests in the Middle East. It's bogus.

Repressive regimes in the Middle East are state - heavy. It is state employees who can make or break you, ignore you or make life easy for you. Favouritism, nepotism, and corruption are the order of the day. This may not be true of all public services but it is always true of some.

Those protesting against state repression are not, in general, state employees. They are street traders, shopkeepers, small entrepreneurs, construction workers, taxi drivers, students .... They want the State off their backs. They don't want to be taxed or harassed out of existence or sent to prison for voicing their frustrations.

Here it is state employees who want us to Fight the Cuts, along with some of the better-off recipients of Benefits. Middle Eastern despots have favoured tribes, who get a disproportionate share of what's going. In the UK, it is the vote-crucial over 60s who are bribed with their Winter Fuel Payments and Free Bus Passes. Those beyond voting - the elderly frail - are neglected.

Transport some of this weekend's protesters to Egypt or Libya and they would be waving a despot's photograph.

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