If the mainstream media like your cause they will do their very best to help by means of what I think of as the squat shot. That’s when the cameraman squats on the ground and points the camera upwards so that the shot shows only bodies and not the tell-tale large areas of empty pavement between and around the marching feet. (Added later: however eventually, the use of this low-angle crowd-shot becomes a signal to alert observers that attendance was low, and the subject of ridicule. The BBC have wised up and reined back on its use in the last few years.) (…)
As will your own people. The demonstrations I went to in the 70s and 80s have merged in memory. Was it at the CND one, or the anti-NF one, or one against changes to the immigration laws where I saw the collection bucket being passed round for the IRA? The bucket filled up slowly, I’ll say that much for my fellow demonstrators, but it was not empty. At all of them I picked up piles of mimeographed leaflets that I now wish I had kept. They were revealing. They were insane. I realised that Searchlight, for instance, who I had thought of as just an anti-fascist group were very left wing indeed. Most of all I remember the posters. Three quarters of the posters, and almost all of the printed ones, were produced by the Socialist Workers Party. Busy little bees, they were. They still are: it is an astonishing fact that this tiny and fissiparous Trotskyist sect has twice dominated massive popular protest movements in my lifetime; the Anti-Nazi League / Rock against Racism movement of the 80s and the Stop The War Coalition of 2001-2008. (…)
Innovative forms of demonstration like Earth Hour (today, apparently) replace the crowd in Trafalgar square with the crowd at home doing something that shows up somehow. This avoids the “embarrassing supporter” problem and the “clashes with the other big demo” problem. However having a metric for your demonstration that is easier to count than crowd size, and having it as a regular event, makes this type of demonstration particularly vulnerable to the cold wind of comparison to last year. The better they do one year, and the more their success is hyped up, the tougher the target for next year.