Somewhere in the crowd, a nose-ringed twerp will drain a mouthful of cider and call to his comrades. “What do we want?” he will demand.
And at that moment, a great silence will fall in the carnival of cretinous crusties. The papier mâché horsemen of the Apocalypse will turn their heads inquiringly in his direction. “What do we want?” he will demand again, a shade more hysterically, and by this time the rioters will be looking at their feet and coughing. Er. What do they want?
The embarrassing truth is that they haven’t a clue. They seem to be cross about the recession, and also about climate change – even though there is nothing like an economic downturn for reducing CO2 emissions. They are apparently enraged that state money is being used to prop up the banks, though they don’t mind forcing the taxpayer to cough up millions to police their antics. They say they want to “burn a banker” and “stop the City”, and no matter how superficially appealing those ambitions may be, it is hard to see how they can be turned into practical economic policies.
So, in a spirit of compassion, let me give the G20 protesters the slogan they need. Here is a demand they could make that would transform the lives and hopes of millions of the poorest people on earth. It is a global stimulus package that doesn’t involve borrowing untold trillions from future generations. It is something the world’s leaders have been trying and failing to do for the past nine years, and if I were the man with the megaphone my cry would be: “What do we want? The completion of the Doha Round of world trade talks! When do we want it? Now!”