WATCH: Delingpole with the Marchers at the London Freedom Rally

Many thousands of people rallied for freedom in cities across the world on Saturday in protest against their governments’ draconian lockdown policies. But you wouldn’t know this if you get your news from the mainstream media where the coverage has been pitiful: either non-existent or, in the case of discredited sources like the BBC and Sky News, wilfully dishonest in their blatant underestimation (“hundreds”) of the numbers involved.

I reported on the London rally, which began in Hyde Park. Marchers were encouraged by the shadowy organisers (risking £10,000 fines if identified by police) to congregate initially in small groups so as to evade the attentions of the large numbers of police looking for an excuse to arrest them. It was nerve-wracking for all participants, who feared a repeat of the increasingly heavy-handed police tactics on previous demos which had resulted in multiple arrests and physical injuries from police baton charges.

One participant described it as feeling a bit like being in occupied Prague, trying to keep a brave face in the park in the open air, but always aware that at any moment the authorities could pounce and arrest you on the flimsiest of pretexts.

At 1 p.m., bursts of coloured smoke signalled the start of the march, which wound in a conga-line out through the Marble Arch exit and up Park Lane. Traffic was brought to a standstill — not that drivers would have noticed much difference: thanks to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s war on motorists, you are now forbidden from travelling up and down this busy thoroughfare any faster than 20 miles per hour.

As we weaved through the jammed traffic it was surprising how much support we got from the stuck motorists. I’d expected impotent rage. What we got, for the most part, was yells of support. One West Indian-looking driver toasted us by firing up a reefer. Bus drivers, not just one but pretty much every one we passed, tooted their horns and exchanged fist bumps with the marchers. Ordinary British people, it seems, are growing sick and tired of the endless restrictions on their freedoms.

Who were the marchers? There was a broad mix of ages and races but for the most part, I would say, these were not people who had had their common sense educated out of them at university. Rather, they were the kind of people whom Hillary Clinton would describe as Deplorables — and which I would call “ordinary decent folk” or “the salt of the earth.”

George Orwell once wrote “If there was hope, it must lie in the proles.” I think he was right. It was a privilege to walk alongside these brave, principled, defiant people, all of whom were risking a night in the cells or physical abuse, for the “crime” of congregating in groups (considerably) larger than their officially permitted household “bubble.”

It’s hard to say what the numbers were, but they were certainly in the thousands and very possibly tens of thousands. The line of marchers snaked down the whole length of Oxford Street, shadowed by police (all wearing masks, though virtually none of the marchers were) and with many vanloads of the helmeted and body armoured Territorial Support Group (TSG) racing up and down side streets, sirens blaring, as if to indicate that any moment there might be kettling, baton charges, and arrests.

In the event, the police were remarkably restrained. Arrests were made and some protestors manhandled with unnecessary force. But for the most part they held back and observed rather than physically intervening. Possibly this was a response to the bad publicity surrounding their heavy-handed tactics at a vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard. Possibly it was because they were so heavily outnumbered by marchers and because the marchers were more tactically astute: for example, when police tried to rush a section of the crowd in Piccadilly, the marchers all linked arms and held tight to frustrate them.

One marcher summed up the defiant mood with a placard saying: “I would rather DIE than live in fear.” These people are unlikely to go away. And as lockdowns extend into summer, it seems more than likely that the numbers of people expressing their frustration and their determination to resist government policy will grow and grow. Prime Minister Boris Johnson would do well to pay attention. The people have had enough.

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