Editor’s View: Cheered by Westminster’s party-like protest

Upon hearing that the farmer protests were set to hit Westminster last night, I hot-footed it with a couple of members of the news team from the Farmers Weekly offices in sleepy Surrey to the centre of London.

A small crowd of sign-wielding protesters greeted us (“Beep for freedom”, “Lab-grown food for all of us?”, no thanks…) and a leaflet was thrust into my hand from George Galloway’s Workers Party (we will never compromise on food security!).

As the chimes of Big Ben struck six, a ragged group of anti-ULEZ protestors struck up another chant of “No farmers, no food” to the tune of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”.

See also: Video: Farmers wake up Westminster with lively tractor rally

About the author

Andrew Meredith
Farmers Weekly editor
Andrew has been Farmers Weekly editor since January 2021 after doing stints on the business and arable desks. Before joining the team, he worked on his family’s upland beef and sheep farm in mid Wales and studied agriculture at Aberystwyth University. In his free time he can normally be found continuing his research into which shop sells London’s finest Scotch egg.
Read more articles by Andrew Meredith

Never let it be said that a protest is exclusionary. A murmur even went up that the pro-farming vegans were on their way with samosas for everyone. But where were the actual agrics?

Then at last the vanguard of the farmy army came into view.

Standing, like a true patriot in the shadow of Winston Churchill’s statue, my first sight of the mighty tractor procession was a blinding assortment of headlights, work lamps and beacons as far as the eye could see.

It was like an Olly Harrison video.

The tractors had crossed Lambeth Bridge and were rumbling threateningly past the sovereign’s entrance to parliament and on towards a loop around Parliament Square – a half-acre or so of recently reseeded grass in front of Britain’s most famous building.

Any brief feelings of foreboding among the onlookers at the arrival of these mighty metal steeds were shattered by the sweet sound of freedom – the Baby Shark theme tune being played by a novelty klaxon horn mounted atop a cab.

One of Mannheim’s finest John Deeres led the way, and the green machines were definitely the most well-represented brand in the procession.

But before any accusations of hypocrisy fly in, I should say that Basildon-built New Hollands and Staffordshire’s JCBs were well-represented too.

Hardly anything looked under about 180hp except for one diddy horticultural tractor – I think a Solis – that clearly hadn’t got the memo.

An hour later, the procession – and the rest of London traffic – was remarkably still moving, thanks to some outstanding work by weary-looking police officers.

These neon-clad upholders of law and order thought they had seen it all before – but had they seen a Union Flag suspended from a front-end loader with the bale grab still attached?

Had they heard a horn play the Vengaboys 1998 classic “We Like to Party?”

I wager not, but the wheels of steel were indeed turning and the traffic lights were burning.

Criticise these party-like protestors all you like, and plenty will for not having good enough messaging, or pleading poverty in tractors worth more than some dwellings.

Yet while Lee Anderson and his cronies barely looked up from their pints as the column honked its way past The Red Lion pub, I say bravo to all those that took part.

They caused no ill will, committed no crime, and brightened the evening of many pedestrians who paused to gawp rather than simply rushing home to their supper.

If just a few urban-focused lawmakers remember anew that there’s a world out there beyond the M25, then I say it was well worthwhile.

Of course, our industry needs to lobby in a multitude of ways, such as through more sober awareness-raising in the corridors of power and by having MPs out on farm.

But a sprinkle of razzmatazz to top it all off is well worth supporting too. Just like Clarkson’s Farm, it may stick longer in the memory.

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