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November 30 reports from London

Photos and more photos from Seattle (overlarge files from a Wally)

7am Saturday 4 December: Comments on the failure of the WTO talks

An honest WTO site

Sorry the RTS site was down for some of November 30. Techhies turned off the webserver while they investigated a huge increase in traffic. Immediate suspicions of a Denial of Service attack by pro-WTO forces... or promised activity by the Metropolitan Police to thwart protest plans... but no! It turns out there were 100,000 hits on the electrohippies site, from people wanting to know more about their "virtual sit-in" - a Denial of Service protest against the WTO. So one could claim that virtually that many people joined the action on Tuesday.

UK Press coverage of N30

A wierd bunch, this. To understand what went on with the press in London, consider the following slice of very local vested interest:

The City of London - the Square Mile containing the financial district and precious little else - has its own small and not notoriously efficient police force. London - the city of 8 million people - is due to get an executive Mayor, who will take responsibility for policing away from the Home Secretary (Minister of the Interior). If that led to a rationalisation of policing in the city - eliminating the rotten borough status of "The City" - the entire officer corps of the City of London Police would see its promotion prospects reduced or, on a performance basis, eliminated.

Full-size souveneir cover (406k!)

C'mon, guys. That was the headline you wrote before the protest, from the police press releases, wasn't it? The story you went out to look for - and failed to find! One van doth not a city make. We've checked and re-checked, and for better or worse the City remains unburnt. Did the Express do better inside?

Now reconsider the significance of all those dire warnings issued by the City of London Police over the past months about mayhem planned in the City on November 30. As the Times points out, the cost of COLP and Metropolitan Police plans to thwart this nonexistent threat was far higher than the damage done by a few people in the City on June 18. This press campaign to raise the profile of COLP had some success: at least one newspaper captioned a photo "City of London Police" when the copper's helmet clearly said "MP" for Metropolitan Police.

And: what better way to ensure that a high proportion of people protesting on November 30 were up for a ruck, than to frighten off people who weren't? RTS made it clear in advance that November 30 in London was to be a day of public information and debate. The events disorganised by RTS were just that. Things kicked off at Euston after the end of the event, when the police surrounded about 200 very, very disorganised people, allowing them to leave only if they stood in line to have their photo and details taken. Rule One for any police commander wanting to start a small riot: take a bunch of angry and/or frightened people, and surround them.

70%-size souveneir story (633k!)

No, the Express did - hard to believe - even worse inside! Now the whole of London is burning. Honest. In the paper. Must be true. (Note that pages 4 & 5 bear the legend "slip" in the top margin, which suggest this is a "slip-sheet" of London-only lies.)

The broadsheets seemed to have a better grasp of which way the political wind was blowing, and mostly relegated the fairly small rally and even tinier riotette to something near their place in the big scheme of things.

The Guardian went big on the protest in Seattle, which left its London coverage looking a bit - you know, on the one hand, on the other...

At the Financial Times, reporting anything that might affect share prices is Job One. So the story leads on the egg all over the WTO's face.

Why would the Times lead on its own report of the events at Euston? Nothing to do with Rupert's interest in playing down opposition in Seattle, of course.

The Telegraph also led with a flaming big picture - but the story pointed out who was getting beaten by whom. The Telegraph is normally the least inaccurate paper when it comes to reporting RTS thingies, and the most sceptical about police claims.

Nearly forgot the Independent. Easily done. Let's pad their coverage out with Prescott's Tube privatisation U-turn.

For a truly different view, let's finally turn to Le Monde.

And for one very much the same, see the Seattle Times reports on N30

6 Dec 1999