There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks regarding whether portests at the football club are worthwhile.
There is a saying in the civil rights community, which goes something like this: “Without passion, there would be no protest; without protest, there would be no progress; and without progress, you would not be here.”
Democracy and protest go hand in hand and therefore protest should not be something we view with suspicion. Without it, there would be no democracy. It is the right of every citizen in this country to make their views known in the most public of ways.
A protest will not, of itself, bring about the change we require but it serves as a medium through which that change can happen.
It can act as a focal point for like-minded people. It shines a light on circumstances which have been hidden away. It brings a sense of unity and camaraderie among the disenfranchised and dispirited and it serves notice on those who ignore fairness and decency that such behaviour will be challenged.
There are those who prefer not to be involved because they see protest as a form of trouble and civil disobedience. While there are many instances of violent and illegal protest, it does not have to be that way, and those failures to protest peacefully and within the law should not be cited as reason not to protest.
Winston Churchill famously said: “Criticism may not be agreeable but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
There cannot be many who think the situation at Blackpool FC is healthy and therefore criticism should be seen as positive and informative act.
Protests do not always bring instant results. Maintaining interest in a cause is always a challenge.
The suffragettes campaigned for years in the face of seemingly overwhelming opposition and yet their refusal to give in eventually established a woman’s right to vote. Although everyone remembers the big events, such as Emily Davison being trampled to death by the King’s horse, it was the unglamorous, day to day protesting – the hunger strikes, those small groups of women chaining themselves to railings – that chipped away at the male-dominated bastion of government and eventually brought success.
No-one should underestimate the power of individuals united in protest in a common cause. While it is not realistic to have major protests on a weekly basis, there are plans for a community march and protest towards the end of the season. In the meantime, BST will have a presence outside the ground before all home games. We encourage all Blackpool fans to seek us out, rally around the Football First banner and find out more about BST.
Protest is not the preserve of the young and the radical – it is a democratic means for all of us to make our feelings known.