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I shall be more specific. A chump called David Lawley-Wakelin burst through the back doors of the courtroom during Tony Blair’s appearance and shouted: “This man should be arrested for war crimes. JP Morgan paid him off for the Iraq war three months after he invaded Iraq. He held up the Iraq bank for £20 billion. He was then paid six million dollars every year and still is from JP Morgan six months after he left office. The man is a war criminal.”
(The amusing part was the reaction: Lord Leveson audibly muttered “How did he get in here?”; afterwards, Robert Jay QC was overheard in the corridor by our sketchwriter Michael Deacon saying “That was a f—— disgrace. A f—— disgrace.”)
The chump in question is a self-described “documentary film-maker”, who made a film called the Alternative Iraq Enquiry, which is described on LinkedIn as “one man’s journey to Iraq to find out if the Iraqi’s [sic] agree with his view that Tony Blair should be in The Hague for crimes against peace”. No doubt it’s the very model of journalistic balance. (To give you an idea of the company he keeps, Lawley-Wakelin previously appeared on George Galloway’s TalkSport show, discussing why Tony Blair should be put in the stocks or something.)
Anyway. As is traditional with these things, Lawley-Wakelin looks exactly how you would expect someone called David Lawley-Wakelin to look: white shirt unbuttoned slightly too far for a man of his age, chinos, large floppy hair, in the manner of a ghastly former public schoolboy called Toby who has drunk one too many strawberry bellinis at the Henley Regatta. Fair enough, though: we shouldn’t judge people by their surnames or their hair or their tasselled loafers. It is OK to come from a privileged background and still despise privilege. Instead, we should judge them for their idiotic, sixth-form political sloganeering and boring self-publicising.
There is a theme here. The modern high-profile political protester is no longer Sylvia Pankhurst or Rosa Parks. The role seems almost exclusively staffed by chumps. Observe the dreadful Australian Trenton Oldfield, who intended to smash some nebulous form of “elitism” by nearly getting himself killed by swimming in front of the Boat Race. Or Jonathan “Jonny Marbles” May-Bowles, who thought he would show the world that Rupert Murdoch Iz Bad through the medium of hitting an octogenarian in the face with a custard pie. The pitiable rock-offspring brats Otis Ferry and Charlie Gilmour fit the template as well.
In every single one of the above cases, the cause which they claimed to espouse was damaged by their sophomoric action anyway. Perhaps ironically, Blair himself made this point today: “If someone turns up and shouts or throws something, that’s the news.” No one cares about the nuances, if there are any, of the protest itself: the drama is the story, and the stupidity and ignorance of the protester. Certainly it doesn’t make anyone who doesn’t already agree with the protest change their minds. There are few things that anyone could do that would make the public warm to Blair, but an idiot in chinos coming up and shouting “war criminal” at him might just be one of them. Likewise, people might not like the Boat Race – they might even agree that it’s elitist – but by risking the lives of the young athletes competing, Oldfield made them more sympathetic. And seeing Murdoch attacked by a standup comedian does not make us all think “Gosh, he’s shown me! That guy who looks like my granddad really is evil” – we just see a young man bullying an old one.
But maybe that’s naive. I’m assuming these people actually care about their stated causes (nebulous and half-baked as they are: Blair Iz Bad, Murdoch Iz Bad, “Elitism” Iz Bad). It makes much more sense if we take it as read that their real cause is self-publicity. Everyone now knows who David Lawley-Wakelin, Trenton Oldfield and Jonny Marbles are. So mission accomplished, I guess.