Queen's Speech: Who's really behind the #DayOfRage hashtag?

A hashtag which seemingly promoted a protest outside Parliament was actually boosted by people sharply opposed to the demonstration.

It prompted dozens of headlines and was the top Twitter trend in the UK on Wednesday morning.

More than 30,000 messages were sent with the hashtag #DayofRage - a planned protest timed to coincide with the Queen's Speech and prompted, organisers say, by the Grenfell Tower disaster.

But the most influential people using the hashtag weren't left-wing protesters opposed to austerity and angry about the fire - in fact they were conservatives and others opposed to the march. Many accused the protesters of putting an unnecessary burden on police and emergency services.

Image copyright @JuliaHB1

The theme was picked up by other users, including Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith who tweeted: "#DayOfRage - just what our emergency services need right now."

Some messages were scathing about the protesters, portraying them as hypocrites:

Image copyright @A_Liberty_Rebel

Most of the top retweeted messages came from protest opponents, although sprinkled among them there were a few widely spread messages of support:

Image copyright @DrNostromo
Image copyright @Greg42Spitfire

The subject even came up on Radio 4's Today Programme, when Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell was asked whether he was egging on the "Day of Rage" protesters when he claimed the Conservative Party does not have the right to govern.

McDonnell stood by his statements but noted: "People can be angry but they mustn't resort to violence."

"I heard yesterday about this Day of Rage and I said immediately, anyone who's protesting against government or any other matter has got to be peaceful, otherwise you undermine the cause and people stop listening to you."

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Despite all the chatter online however, the actual event was quite small, with handfuls of protesters gathering in west London and a few hundred saying they would attend on the official "Day of Rage" Facebook page. Protesters were expected to make their way to central London where further demonstrations were planned for Wednesday afternoon.

Image copyright Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary
Image caption Around 400 people indicated they would go to the "Day of Rage" protest on the event's Facebook page

One community group helping the Grenfell Tower residents said there was widespread feeling amongst them that the "Day of Rage" protest was not appropriate.

"We cannot emphasise enough how against this many of the affected residents we've spoken to are and they do not want their grief hijacked for any violent or destructive means," the Clement James Centre said in a statement released on Twitter. "If the streets are closed, we cannot effectively continue our aid operation in the area, and if any violence ensues, the issue takes a whole new direction."

The centre suggested that supporters of the Grenfell families use an alternative hashtag, #PeaceforLatimer. As of Wednesday, there were only a few hundred messages which included that message.

Blog by Mike Wendling

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