Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rain but No Storm at Civilised Protest

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rain but No Storm at Civilised Protest

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

IT ALL seemed a very British protest. The best of order in the drizzle, polite interac t ion between demonstrators and police and a stream of egg-andbacon-tied individuals wandering through the Grace Gates quite ignoring the whole thing. Welcome to the start of the international cricket season.

There was due to be a little piece of history, with the first 10.45am start in the 105th Test match ever to be staged at Lord's. Yet the weather ensured that was never going to happen and, to be honest, the main interest seemed to centre on what was going on outside the ground. It was a small, civilised affair, but it was important.

Peter Tatchell, the main activist in the Stop The Tour campaign, has been reinvented in the public eye for his committed stance against the atrocities in Zimbabwe and here, as he busied himself organising the 100 or so demonstrators on St John's Wood Road, you could sense a real swell of goodwill to the man and his cause.

With an hour to go before the start, there appeared to be more cameras than protesters around as Tatchell conducted interviews with the media. What he said was simple and eloquent: "We don't think it's right any England team should be playing against a team which has been politically vetted in order to exclude anyone with political views against the regime.

"The important thing today is not how we protest but just that the world sits up and takes notice."

It looked as if they would have their work cut out since there was such a low-key feel to the whole affair. The MCC had not allowed any political banners to be brought into the ground, but had said there was nothing to stop black armbands being worn. It has to be said that very few spectators seemed to have taken advantage of that opportunity.

Outside, though, a group of MPs led by former Sports Minister Kate Hoey made their own stand. …

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