Simon Jenkins has penned a fine piece for the Guardian on the impact of real rather than virtual demonstrations, and the role of the city square in rocking the foundations of government. All quite true. No amount of interweb polemic can equal the image on the evening news of a copper's cudgel rising and falling on the person of some patchouli-scented crustie. However, it's probably harder than you think to get folk out on the streets and squares if I'm any example to go by.
I've been on exactly two 'demonstrations' in my life; the first was the Countryside Alliance march against the Hunting Ban, the second the anti Blair-War march in February 2003. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. And on that limited experience, here's my checklist for bringing Britain's silent majority out on the streets:-
1. The ostensible reason has to be intellectually defensible with a degree of moral respectability
2. Fellow protesters and march organisers must be law-abiding and committed to peaceful protest
3. Demonstrable shared values help; I remember how all we men doffed our caps as we passed the Cenotaph on the CA march
4. The likelihood of bumping into people you will like and may nip-off for a pint with should be high
5. The march route should pass a few decent restaurants for lunch (a Westminster to Mayfair leg at about one-ish is ideal)
6. Above all, fellow marchers must be PLU. There is nothing more guaranteed to prevent a Brit marching than the possibility of being accidentally photographed with someone whose acquaintance they would normally avoid.
Oh, and until Waitrose start selling Throwing Vegetables in 450g blister packs ("perfectly decayed, piquant with sulphur and squishiness, firm enough for a decent lob but deliciously rotten") these things must be entirely non-physical.