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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 17:09 GMT
People Power
BBC One, Sunday, 13 March 2005, 2215 GMT

As a nation we are becoming disillusioned and disenchanted with Westminster-style politics, with turnout at elections at an all time low.

But as Britain grows increasingly disenchanted with Westminster, more people are engaging in a different and potent style of politics - direct action.

The programme looks at how over the past 15 years ordinary people, who previously haven't been active in politics, have taken to the streets in order to protest their anger at unfairness and injustice on a single cause in order to change society.

From the poll tax riots to fuel protests, from demonstrations against the transportation of live animals to the fight for father's rights, the documentary shows, through the stories of some of those involved, what lessons have been learned over the years from successive protests and why People Power has become such an influential and potent force in modern political life.

In 1990 Alistair Mitchell accompanied his film-making girlfriend to the poll tax demonstrations in central London. His job was to take stills of the event, but instead he found himself caught up in the poll tax riots which contributed to the downfall of a Prime Minister.

In 1995, Susan Robinson was a normal middle class woman in her 50s who had never been politically active. But protests at Shoreham against live animal exports affected her so much she joined in. Veal calf exports were halted.

In 2000, Brynle Williams, a North Wales farmer, organised the first fuel protest at Stanlow oil refinery which threatened to bring Britain to a halt. The government was forced into an embarrassing climb-down over increases in fuel prices.

Today, Matt O'Connor is one of the new champions of People Power who has learned the lessons of past direct action and mass protest. He runs Fathers 4 Justice and campaigns for father's rights and reform of family law.

Across the BBC programmes will be examining why people are so apathetic about politics and unwilling to engage in the traditional political process.

Stand up and be counted
07 Mar 05 |  People Power
Lessons from history
11 Mar 05 |  People Power
Your comments
07 Mar 05 |  People Power


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