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Royal Wedding celebrates all that is wrong with the system

“For richer, for poorer?” A sick joke at our expense, writes Joana Ramiro

The Royal Wedding comes at a time in Britain when jobs are at risk for hundreds of thousands of people, living costs are soaring and public services are being slashed and sold off. And when in the Middle East and North Africa, millions are fighting and dying for their democratic rights. The Royal Wedding seemingly celebrates the inexcusable in a lavish boast of wealth to the poor at home, and the back slapping of British-supported tyrants abroad.

Though the ambassador of Syria had his invite revoked, only after the state’s massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators had hit the TV screens, members of the Bahraini and Saudi royal families will still be attending – as will Prince Andrew who sold Colonel Gadaffi the weapons he is using to kill his own people.

Kate Middleton will leave her £5,000 per penthouse at the Goring Hotel, which received a £150,000 makeover before the event, to join parades in London costing millions in security, to a finest-champagne reception at Buckingham palace with her new husband. And at a time in Britain when the top 10 per cent are one hundred times more wealthy than the bottom ten per cent.

As William and Kate declare their love “for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health”, wage inequality is racing towards levels seen during the first world war, and disability claimants are being struck off the system. Health Minister Andrew Lansley is still intent on privatising the NHS.

The Royal Wedding has seen a wave of repression against those who see it right to challenge such a system. In a country that prides itself of being democratic and progressive the ban over dissenting protests and the raid of squatting communities leading to the arrest of 14 people comes to prove otherwise.

Despite the Metropolitan Police’s rejection of any links between the raids of the Ratstar community in Camberwell, the Transition Heathrow squat and three other collectives around London and the Royal Wedding, the timings could not be more coincidental. After weeks of announced pre-emptive arrests and heavy-handed policing of recent protests, John McDonnell MP declared that “this disproportionate use of force is unacceptable” and even the more appalling as they seemed to be “some form of pre-emptive strike before the royal wedding”.

The ban over “anti-royalist” demonstrations did not simply affect the Muslims Against Crusades event, which was immediately shut down upon announcement, but also a Republican street party in Covent Garden, which the Camden Council ultimately prohibited due to alleged lack of management plans. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is quite explicit: “There’s nothing in health and safety law to prevent anyone from celebrating the royal wedding”.

People can celebrate, they are encouraged to, in fact, but if they dare to differ actions will be prevented. The organisers of National Demonstration-Reclaim the Royal Wedding Facebook event clarify: “Our original intention was to stage a protest along the route of the royal wedding in the form of a mass assembly, but we now know that unless we receive permission from the Met Police this would constitute an offence (…) the wedding route is restricted to a special security zone around Parliament called ‘the designated area’; this has a special legal status”. This complete disrespect of civil liberties is only topped by the evident repressive role the Met is playing. For those happy to engage in the celebrations there is a smirk and a little flag, for the nonconformists there is intimidation and possible imprisonment.

The Reclaim the Royal Wedding demo goes ahead in Trafalgar Square, but under restricted guidelines. “We cannot BE SEEN to condone any individuals or groups who do protest outside Westminster Abbey because protesting in the designated area is unlawful” the description says “Also, we cannot BE SEEN to condone any other actions individuals or groups might choose to undertake that would disrupt this occasion and draw attention to other issues – such as the crippling cuts to public services”.

Another slap in the face of a public far too abused by this government so far. But bread, circuses, weddings and what not, this government should know that, more often than not, appeasement tactics don’t work and the people strike back.

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