George “The Great Moonbat” Monbiot has an unscheduled trip down memory lane:
A group of us had occupied a piece of land on St George’s Hill in Surrey, 70 miles from where we now sat. In 1649, the Diggers had built their settlement there, in the hope of establishing a “common treasury for all”. Our aim had been to rekindle interest in land reform. It had been going well — we had placated the police, started to generate plenty of public interest — when two young lads with brindled staffordshire bull terriers arrived in an old removals van.
Everyone was welcome at the site and, as they were travellers, one of the groups marginalised by the concentration of control and ownership of land in Britain, we went out of our way to accommodate them. They must have thought they had died and gone to heaven.
Almost as soon as they arrived they began twocking stuff. A radio journalist left his equipment in his hire car. They smashed the side window. Someone saw them bundling the kit, wrapped in a stolen sleeping bag, into their lorry. There was a confrontation — handwringing appeals to reason on one side, pugnacious defiance on the other — which eventually led to the equipment being handed back.
They wound their dogs up, making them snap and snarl at the other occupiers. At night they roamed the camp, staffies straining at the leash, cans of Special Brew in their free hands, shouting “fucking hippies, we’re going to burn you in your tents!”
We had no idea how to handle them without offending our agonised liberal consciences. They saw this and exploited it ruthlessly. Eventually the police solved the problem for us. Most of the cars parked at a nearby attraction had had their windows smashed and radios stolen, and someone had followed their lorry back to our site. As they were led away, my anarchist beliefs battled my bourgeois instincts, and lost.