Lets be clear about one thing: the People's Climate March was spectacular. Spirits were high, voices were loud and the costumes alone a feat of human endeavour. At certain points the crowd was almost indistinguishable from a scene in the Lion King. Spectators looked on with joy and wonder at the menagerie of animals that stomped and flapped past with banners. Hundreds joined in the melee, friendly, feeling rodents to the pied piper's vision of a world united in the fight for survival. Yet there was one prominent feature of this pageant that I could neither endorse, nor entirely ignore.
'Tell Cameron why you are here today!''Winter is Coming, Cameron!' 'David Cameron, is this your idea of a clean planet?' These are just the civil examples: most were considerably less so. For those who didn't know the first thing about the nature of climate change the implication was obvious: prime minister David Cameron was at the forefront of global warming and must be held to account for it. Scratch even half a millimetre below the surface of this take, of course, and it collapses as surely as the chunks of majestic ice floes did into the sea on the screen above Sunday's march.
David Cameron is not the issue here. Though I'm as scornful of him as any good liberal, he is not himself a huge contributory factor. He has responsibilities, of course - and those responsibilities do extend beyond the duties of your average civilian, however strongly you feel about recycling. Separating your lids from your yoghurt pots is not on a par with attending the UN climate summit this week, and as someone who influences national environment policy he's made some terrible choices. But it is not Cameron who brought us here, and it is not Cameron who will get us out of our bind.
That this is bigger than him I need hardly point out. Of course it is - that's why it's a global crisis. It's bigger than all of us yet, in the past few years, this personal clobbering of the prime minister has become a hallmark of protests regardless of their concerns. Gaza, the environment, gay rights and women's rights: these have become Cameron's issues, regardless of the man's views or involvement. Admittedly, as the ultimate representative of the nation, he needs addressing - but demonising Cameron or indeed any politician or party this explicitly risks dividing people along political lines.
How many felt excluded by Sunday's protest because of their conservative leanings? How many shunned Gaza for similar reasons? How much more effectively could these protests be if they transcended politics, and were presented as the human issues they truly are? Blame someone aggressively, and their first impulse is to defend or dissociate themselves from the issue in question. Beseech them to help you, and on the whole you'll receive a far more positive response. This applies to politicians, regardless of personal culpability, and it applies to their parties. I am by no means defending of the Tories, Labour or any government who has presided over fracking agreements or ruinous foreign conflicts, but we need their cooperation not their hostility if we are all to move on.
Last week the Scottish voted for unity in spite of Cameron - not because of him. They could see the bigger picture, and in it change happened because Britain stood together, not apart. What started as a debate thrashed out in parliament became the people's problem, not the politicians'. It wasn't apolitical, of course, but as time went on it became obvious to everyone that the consequences of either yes or no would transcend party lines.
As with the Scottish referendum, so with climate: there are two options - change, or be changed irreversibly. The consequences of either have sod all to do with politicians, but in the latter the entire planet is screwed. When I spoke to friends who hadn't marched despite strong feelings on climate, they cited feelings exclusion: the march to them seemed for left wing and anti-Cameron people only. Yet while the rationality of this might seem flawed, from the march on Sunday I instinctively know just what they mean.
Environment, Gaza, Women and Gay rights. Ask someone to think of left-wing characteristics and one or more will crop up. Do the same with right-wing, and the chances of any appearing are slim. Yet these are human issues, global issues - universal issues, about which all good people feel strongly and want to assist. Leave Cameron out of it. Leave parties out of it. Rail against the government of course, but don't make it partisan. If the news of late has taught us anything, it is that more division is the very last thing we need.Suggest a correction