Leading article: Rebel with a cause

Sunday 23 October 2011 02:36

Brian Haw, whose death was announced yesterday, was a stubborn eccentric in the best English tradition. The one-man peace camp he pitched on Parliament Square 10 years ago soon became a place of pilgrimage for thousands and something of a tourist attraction in its own right. Mostly, though, it was what he had intended it to be: a mighty irritant, slap in front of the seat of national government, and a noisy, scruffy and colourful challenge to the war-waging tendencies of three prime ministers.

Haw's camp survived dozens of eviction efforts, most recently the Mayor of London's vain attempt to have this piece of pavement cleared in time for the royal wedding. But although his followers diligently kept the flame alive after he himself left for cancer treatment in Germany the encampment increasingly appeared to be running out of time. It is perhaps fitting that it was Haw's own time that ran out first.

His supporters now have the chance to give both Haw and his camp an honourable send-off together. And if Oliver Cromwell can have a statue in the precincts of Parliament, surely a small space can be found at the edge of the square opposite for a modest memorial stone to Brian Haw – an old-style rebel who got under the thick skin of the establishment.

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