Love music hate racism

On Saturday there were 44 999 people standing in Trafalgar Square listening to some great music. Plus me.

Click on the image to see my dodgy attempt at putting together some photos to show the magnitude of the event…
Love Music Hate Racism

It was a gorgeous afternoon, much like a family friendly Big Day Out, with a political motivation. Council elections are on Thursday, and the British Nazi Party is putting up 20 candidates – this event was in response to some pretty scary pre-polling stats. For instance; apparently eight out of ten East Enders would vote for a BNP member despite (or maybe because of) their racist, homophobic, anti-asylum-seeking, hate-oriented views.

The music was great, the setting was surreal, the people were lovely.

As predicted, Babyshambles didn’t make an appearance, as Pete Doherty was arrested that morning. AGAIN. But Drew (the bassist) came anyway, and made a solo appearance. I thought he was really good. Although what the idiots at the front thought they were accomplishing by throwing beer cans at the stage, is anyone’s guess.

Belle and Sebastian were as good live as I’d hoped they’d be. And Boy Kill Boy (I hadn’t heard of them, so I’m not sure if they’ve hit Australia yet) were so good – great sound, very cool “strutting” stage personalities.

There were heaps more bands who were really cool, but we couldn’t work out who any of them were, so instead we had a groove on the fountain (although we didn’t actually get into it like some other gits), chilled out on the National Gallery grass, hung out listening to music, and drank wine straight from the bottle, bought from Sainsbury’s across the road.

I’ve posted more photos here:

It’s a bit of a segue, but since this is my blog, I get to make social comments now and then. So here are the two things I noticed from the day.

Firstly, living in Australia has given me a social conscience that just doesn’t exist here. I’m not afraid of the police (although I am afraid to drink in public, despite everyone around me doing it), and I can’t just dump litter the way they do here (I think it’s because so many bins have been removed to prevent bin fires, people have got used to not finding a bin, so they don’t even bother looking anymore). And I just can’t swear the way they do. The slogan for the day was “Fuck the BNP”, which was said over and over and over and over…. I never want to hear the word “fuck” again.

Secondly, it’s scary how many people won’t vote this Thursday, because it’s not compulsory and their workplaces won’t give them extra time to go to the polling place.

It’s scary how many people won’t vote, because they’re apathetic.

At the rally they were predicting a worse turn out than last election. Which means politically, anything can happen Thursday.

It was really interesting having a debate with someone on Saturday about compulsory versus non-compulsory voting. The man beside me believed my rights have been taken away by the Australian government forcing me to vote. That it was unconstitutional to be able to fine or jail me if I didn’t vote, and that you can’t force someone to make a decision about policies they have no interest in. He believed our government was elected by people who don’t know any better, and who vote because they have to, not because they want to, whereas he believed his government is elected by people who understand the policies and platforms, so it’s an “educated vote”.

I believe that compulsory voting places the responsibility of the future of Australia on everyone. You are forced to have a say – you are forced to understand and take interest in the facts (or “so-called-facts” as they are presented by each party), and at the end of the day, it’s a government that represents everyone, because we were all involved in the voting system.

I can see in retrospect we’re both right…

I’ll get off my soapbox now.