I admit to having mixed feelings about the student protests. I fully support their outrage at what is happening under this appalling coalition government; it’s not just the huge increase in student fees but the huge cuts also in university funding, particularly in social science and the arts. We are the 6th richest nation on Earth and no one can convince me that we can’t afford to invest in our future through educating our young people. The figure of £9000 keeps being bandied about but it’s not just nine grand, it’s nine thousand per year, plus I’d guess at a minimum of another £6000 per year to pay for living expenses. So we’re looking at around £45000 debt for a three year degree, so imagine a couple of graduates going along for a mortgage and starting negotiations with a joint £90000 debt around their necks. What hope?
In general I oppose violence and it was fairly obvious that some at the demonstrations were there just for that. On the other hand one of the advantages of 24 hour news is that you can watch events unfold rather than the three-minute snippets on news bulletins and I saw police provocation and a charge by mounted police that seemed completely un-called for. The small attack on the car carrying Charlie and Camilla of course became the news of the day rather than the student’s cause but they came to no harm and will serve to shake them a little from their complacency of wealth and influence by birth rather than the ballot box. The coverage though does raise another thought. Most of the cabinet (18 of which are millionaires) went to so called ‘public’ schools with Eaton being prominent and then to Oxford or Cambridge university. So too did the top journalists and newspaper editors and media executives.
As I stated earlier, in general I am opposed to all violence but I can’t help recalling history. Would the governor of the Bastille have handed over the keys to a sit down protest and would Britain have given independence to the United States or many of our other colonies unless they fought us for it? I am not advocating violence but the power resides with the people and not with the few who seize it and abuse it and unless they recognise that then violence is almost inevitable.