Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why I'm Proud of My Daughter,the Protester

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why I'm Proud of My Daughter,the Protester

Article excerpt


WHEN my daughter asked me what I'd think if she left school to protest on the day war broke out, I said, cautiously, that it depended on why she was doing it. If it was a fun afternoon off or some kind of lifestyle statement, I wouldn't support it. Jessica was indignant. "Mum, I really think it's something I should do. I don't want to get into trouble at school, but they say they'll punish us."

I told her it was right for her school -Latymer in Edmonton, a few miles from our Muswell Hill home - to give punishments; it couldn't allow children to disappear without permission. But her responsibilities were different. If her citizenship lessons meant anything, it was that it is important to stand up for what you believe in. If she genuinely felt strongly about protesting, then I'd back her. But I'd back the school's detentions, too. My husband, Stephen, a television producer, had similar views and was pleased that Jessica was going to take a stand.

I felt a surge of anxiety on Wednesday, when I saw the television pictures of the policemen outside Parliament, dragging teenage girls along the road, their combat trousers scraping against the Tarmac, or picking them up by their elbows. "These are children!" I wanted to shout. See their round, smooth faces, their delicate bodies. I worried about the fact that Jessica wears a skirt to school.

Would her legs be grazed by being dragged along the ground?

I wish I could say that at that moment I had thought instead of the Iraqi children who will be maimed in this war.

I didn't. I worried about scratches on my daughter, and about her introduction to the brutal reality of protests.

Until now, my children's generation has been almost completely uninterested in politics, preferring music and clothes, and it's easy to see why. There have been no big issues dividing the political parties, nothing to capture the imagination. When Jessica has asked why I have an allegiance to Continued on next page Dillon Bryden Labour, I can only explain it in rather feeble generalities. …

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