“The Protestor’s Handbook”

Bibi van der Zee thinks “politics is at its best when energetically argued by amateurs”, and her book aims to make “the weapons of campaigning” available to all. Outraged by that new runway or nuclear storage facility planned for your neighbourhood? Then this do-it-yourself guide to campaigning is packed with practical advice – from organising a meeting (“the pub is often the place where most gets done”) to petitioning legislators, planning marches, taking direction action and cultural jamming: challenging corporations in their own space (“kneeling to worship chickens in Asda”, a supermarket chain).

Her legal advice helps you stay the right side of the law and highlights the erosion of civil liberties in Britain. Since 2006 police can impose pre-charge bail conditions on protestors, for example, banning them from certain areas.

But does protest make a difference? After all, millions took to the streets to stop the Iraq war, but Bush and Blair ignored them. Van der Zee has no doubts on this score. “For me,” she says, “protest is right up there with a kiss and a poem as part of the hope for humanity.”

The Protestor’s Handbook
Bibi van der Zee
Guardian Books, 2010

–PD Smith


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