Some have speculated that the UK protest movement may have peaked, especially as the lively student protests of 2010 have yet to reappear this year.
Nonsense. Firstly yesterday saw the marvellous actions by UK Uncut against corporate tax avoiders Barclays. Secondly, and more generally, we have seen the widespread opposition to the Con-Dems bizarre attempts to privatise forests (even Thatcher did not come up with that one!) and the determined opposition to cuts in local library services.
I spent this afternoon in Stratford public library in Newham, and was reminded once again of the importance of these services. Firstly because Stratford is, to my knowledge, pretty much the only public library open on a Sunday in east London. Secondly I looked around and saw scores of working class people there for the same reason as I was - they wanted somewhere peaceful in which to study and research. And in many homes that is still quite a hard thing to come by - either because of noise, lack of space or the demands of other family members. Without libraries - where do such people go? A government of public schoolboys can never understand that.
Lest anyone think I am all misty eyed about all public services in all circumstances, I am not. Whatever some on the left may tell you (especially when they talk about the NHS) such services are not 'ours'. Here is one example of why not. This afternoon I wanted to use the library toilet, and found them locked. On tracking down an austere member of staff, I was told "I've locked them because the library is closing in fifteen minutes". The thought of perhaps locking them five minutes before the library closed, or better still after all the public had left, had clearly never occured to this woman. Indeed when I persisted, I was advised to go to Morrison's supermarket next door. I did. And even though Morrison's was also due to shut at 1700, people were allowed in without any fuss at all.
By all means let us save our public services from coalition cuts. But at the same time, let us press to make public services truly welcoming to the public, and indeed to involve the public as much as possible in the running of those services.
We can do better.