As articles about the student protests/tantrums and the evil changes to their funding abound, I find myself increasingly confused by the whole matter. The Independent reports that only a quarter of the students are expected to actually pay off their loans, which would seem to put the whole change in funding firmly into the “book keeping trick” category, as the bulk of the funding will still come from taxes covering the loans but the government can at least claim it’s all loans. In the meantime apart from keeping the cost off the governments books for a bit it would seem that an awful lot of the students will be better off having an ongoing debt sucks, but then again so does paying more taxes, and at least you can choose if your course is worth getting into debt for.If you decide it isn’t and do well you’ll in theory get more of the money you earn as you’ll not be paying for someone else’s career training/education (at least if the government actually ever reduces taxes anywhere). I do wonder what the governments actually trying to achieve causing this much unpopularity for so little apparent gain.
Inspector Gadget has a rather informative article on the violence from the other side of the thin blue line that is well worth reading (including the comments) and makes the following rather salient point.
“We kettle for one reason and one reason only. It is important you understand this. We do it because:
We are the only police in the world who do not have water cannon, baton rounds or CS gas. This means we have to go ‘hands on’ or let you run riot (Millbank). If we are going ‘hands on’ it is going to be on our terms, we choose where and how many of you we will contain.
If we were allowed to use the kit everyone else has, we wouldn’t need to kettle you.
Ironically, it is liberal, wet thinking about saving rioters from baton rounds etc that has backfired and created the kettle.”
That of course may in the light of the recent demonstrations change as allegedly the current home Secratary is thinking of allowing water cannons, a state of affairs I hope doesn’t come to pass as it will change the nature of protest in the UK and thus the nature of the country. Mind the current crop of demonstrators are doing that as well and I may have to accept that the world is getting less civilised, or perhaps at least that the lack of civility has moved into different areas of life.
The actions of the police seem increasingly restrained as footage of demonstrators throwing petrol bombs emerges, and student organisers are concerned only about preventing “any violence against any protester” and believe that the “police are extremely dangerous” (they must have a really odd idea of extreme danger) when they’re view of actually having stewards is that they are “some kind of necessary evil that we need to play along with to get the police to approve our plans that we inevitably ignore, but we must be totally cynical about this role.” (Full article can be found on FaceBook or here). I find it rather hypocritical that someone who claims to be so concerned about the well being of the protesters fails to accept any responsibility for their “inevitable” choice to depart from an agreed route. I don’t believe that when trying to organise a large march that agreeing to a route with the police and then sticking to it – in anyway infringes the right to protest (unless of course the only route they’ll allow is in a car park behind a lidl in Slough or some such). If they want to take such actions then they need to make sure that the other protesters are aware of what’s going to happen and can prepare accordingly or decline to turn up/get involved.
Especially if there’s any truth in this comment made to that article:
“The demonstration on Tues 30, where thousands of people moved rapidly through central London, evading the police for hours, was facilitated by a group of stewards who read …maps, directed the crowd, and had spotters looking out for police movements. It was not ‘spontaneous’.”
If that’s true then the attack on that old couple in the car possibly becomes more interesting as apart from being somewhere in central London they weren’t that close to where the demo was meant to be, at least not from the look of the BBC’s map. Also not wanting to sound like a stuck record but how does causing damage that far from parliament in anyway advance the notional cause being demonstrated about?
Whilst the silent majority of students and their supporters may or may not condemn the violence the more out spoken activists seem to be of the opinion that “violence by the protesters is OK if that’s what it takes to get things done“. These same activists that are trying to find the supposed police officer that injured Mr Meadows seem less keen to find out who attacked an unconscious police officer. This taste for violence amongst those claiming to support the students does seem very wide spread as from comments made elsewhere on facebook (Sorry can’t link to it) there are such choice views as:
“the Police are just Raising the Stakes. Before you know it – People will be Throwing Petrol Bombs. One thing they are over looking is the Protesters are not all from London. Revenge attacks against the Police would occur all over the Country”
“As it is, people are going to be turning up to protests in armour and with helmets and with battering rams to break kettles. ”
“I really do think that reinforcing placards to use is shields isn’t such a bad idea. ”
“Who voted for a Police State? Fucking nobody. The Violence of the People is Justified.
All quotes from different people. Across numerous “student supportive” posts, threads and comments I’ve hardly seen a single suggestion that maybe violent protest isn’t the way to go, that maybe something should be done to stop the violent element within the demonstrations or even that other actions could be taken along side the mass violent protests. Except of course to petition against the current police tactics if petitions and democratic process is suitable for that why not for complaining about the student fees changes as well?
Also from Inspector Gadgets comments from Graham Mitchell:
“As a free-lance press photographer I have covered pretty much all of the ‘protests ‘ held in London over the past 5 years.
At last it seems the police are being allowed to defend themselves against physical attack. Untill the last two ‘student’ protests, I have seen coppers being struck, spat on, bricks ect thrown at them and the response has been very tame. Understandable after the G20? No it is not. In my humble opinion, the police should be able to respond with whatever force is appropriate at the time.”
Again from the comments this item about the action of those protestors that want a fairer society for all:
“the Teenage Cancer Trust at their head office in London. These were broken into and ransacked by so called ‘protestors’ during the mayhem on Thursday.“.
I’ve been trying to decide if I’m being consistent in my views on the protests seeing as I have been known to partake in the odd walk in that area without asking for permission. I think though that my position is consistent as those walks are lawful and of a much smaller scale (if hundreds ever turn up things may have to change) and I believe that it’s made clear to those attending the risks they may be taking and the nature of the activity. The activity on the students demo’s is neither lawful nor legal, they are not going about their peaceful business and with larger numbers the freedom for bystanders to carry out their business unhindered also needs to be considered. The students “organisers” official or otherwise need to decide what they’re aiming for and make sure both that aim and the tactics to be pursued are clearly explained and that those participating prepare suitably. I can’t see how violence against people and property is in anyway excusable given the stated goals of these demonstrations.