Mark Field did nothing wrong

Any protester knows you cannot disrupt an event without consequences.

Frank Furedi

Topics Politics UK

I really do not understand why Mark Field was suspended as a Foreign Office minister for throwing out a female Greenpeace activist, Janet Barker, who ‘peacefully’ invaded and disrupted a private dinner. I also do not understand why Field bothered to apologise for doing what any responsible man or woman would have done in similar circumstances.

Many have claimed that Field’s behaviour dealt a blow to the right of peaceful protest. That’s a tendentious interpretation of the right to protest. People can protest peacefully in a democracy. But when they disrupt a meeting or an event, protesters cannot expect everyone else to sit by passively. Protesters need to know that they do not have the moral authority to force people who are their targets to simply put up with their behaviour. Stewards, bouncers and members of the audience are entitled to protect the integrity of their event and kick out people who are trying to ruin it.

I have been involved in numerous protests and have done my share of disrupting meetings. I and with my fellow protesters knew that we could get manhandled and that, at the very least, we were likely to get physically ejected. We never imagined that those who ejected us were somehow infringing on the right to protest. If we wanted to avoid any potential physical confrontation and just wanted to protest, we could have stayed outside and handed out leaflets.

Some argue that it was unacceptable for Mark Field, a man, to physically manhandle a female protester. In an ideal world there would have been a woman steward on site to eject a woman. But in the absence of such a steward, the alternative was to allow the protester to dominate and ruin the event or chuck her out. It is a testament to the passivity of members of the British establishment that no one else there felt a duty to react. Only one person got up and took the initiative.

No doubt Greenpeace assumed that if they used women to front the protest, then those in the audience would sit still, transfixed and paralysed. In our era of gender equality, it is a bit rich when supporters claim that it was wrong to treat a lady this way. Certainly, the hundreds of Suffragettes who struggled to win the vote for women would have been surprised by the demand that women protesters should be treated as if they were untouchable saints.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics UK


Donald Duck

23rd June 2019 at 8:50 pm

Oh, dear someone came along and interrupted a cosy little middle-class gathering with perhaps a possibly more pressing issue of global climate change. How very plebeian and crass! Surely everybody knows that everything is hunky-dory and that everything is going spiffingly and these people come along and upset the cosy consensus. Shocking. Perhaps they should take a leaf out of Mr Furedi’s book and stay silently and unobtrusively in the background and be ignored.

There comes a stage in history where people have to start being unreasonable, and this is one of those moments. Being nice and respectful ain’t going to butter no parsnips. We’ve tried that and it leads nowhere.

The rage on that guy’s face as he manhandled the woman in question out of the gathering spoke volumes. How dare you upset our cosy little middle class apple-cart. He looked like the typical middle-class remainer as did the audience that spiked journalists pour such bile upon. The whole scene reminded me of the way black freedom riders were manhandled on buses and in restaurants in the 1960s.

David Redfern

28th June 2019 at 5:37 pm

“There comes a stage in history where people have to start being unreasonable, and this is one of those moments. Being nice and respectful ain’t going to butter no parsnips. We’ve tried that and it leads nowhere.”

What a joke. You don’t even see the irony.

The left are allowed to adopt whatever method they want to get their message across, but wo betide anyone on the right who adopts the same tactics.


23rd June 2019 at 4:56 pm

Did the Police arrest Mr Field – have the police charged Mr Johnson – why is it then that the papers are full of nothing else

Warren Alexander

23rd June 2019 at 2:16 pm

You sneak your way into a private event with the express purpose of causing disruption and then object to being physically challenged and thrown out. Congratulations to Mark Field. We need more politicians prepared to act against self-righteous lefties with an overwhelming sense of entitlement and the belief that they are immune to the consequences of their own actions.

gershwin gentile

23rd June 2019 at 1:10 pm

“In an ideal world there would have been a woman steward on site to eject a woman.”

“Gosh, lucky it was only some woman… Who knows who it could be next time.”

I recommend the last act of Ghostdog: Way of the Samurai to anyone interested in equality of the sexes.

christopher barnard

23rd June 2019 at 12:59 pm

Context Frank, context.

This lady is a Green protestor and therefore almost certainly middle class, progressive and liberal.

She shouldn’t be treated as if she was a person who brazenly reveals their fascism by openly voicing opinions which are disagreeable to the people of Islington and our university campuses, against whom all sorts of intimidation and thuggish behaviour is perfectly acceptable and to be applauded.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.