Posts Tagged ‘student riot’

Labour must be prepared to challenge the right-wing press

20/11/2010, 12:44:59 PM

by John Tipper

It was only as the march slowed on the approach to the Tate that I was able to take a good look at the crowd. To my left was the Buckinghamshire New University hockey team, who in addition to their sporting livery were wearing blue foam antlers; even then they struck me as unlikely to lead an armed insurrection, although I also concluded that if they did it would be worth sticking around for.

Directly ahead, a student had clambered onto a bin and was pleading for somebody to hand him a sign. Somebody did, apparently without noticing that it was in Welsh – cue much good-humoured speculation from the non-Celtic contingent about what it might actually say.

Amongst the forest of placards I noticed slogans bracingly direct (“Fuck Fees”) and oblique (“Would you cut a CAT? Then why cut EduCATion?”) and cursed myself again for forgetting mine.

At one point I observed a burly fellow with a beard and a Lib Dem sticker attempting a spirited if unconvincing defence of Nick Clegg – he’s got the tuition fees issue wrong but he’s a decent guy, always polite and nicely turned out etc. But not only was he pleasingly juxtaposed against a sign depicting Clegg as a weasel, I also began to suspect that his fellow Liberals Against Fees were not wholly in agreement. Some were loudly shushing, but most of them simply wore the pained expression of a pre-teen whose parents have insisted on dropping them right outside the gates on their first day of secondary school. (more…)

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Protest or power? We can’t have both.

16/11/2010, 10:30:03 AM

by Dan Hodges

My old generalissimo at the GMB, John Edmonds, used to have a nice line on demos. “If we’re going to have a march, lets make sure it’s a public demonstration of our strength, not our weakness”.

Watching the pictures of Millbank Tower being invaded by a hoard of rampaging journalists, the odd student anarchist in tow, I was reminded of those words. In terms of numbers and organization, last Wednesday’s protest was impressive. It has been a while since the unions managed to get 50,000 on the streets in support of a single issue.

Nor did the unfortunate dénouement at Tory HQ appear to undermine public support. A Sunday Times poll found that 65% of those questioned backed the demonstration, an even higher number than opposed the government’s policy on tuition fees. The issue dominated the media, captured the Parliamentary agenda, and energised the movement. A triumph of direct action.

But a counter-productive one. Set aside the violence, indefensible though it was. What was alarming wasn’t the spasm of aggression. Or the lack of awareness of potential damage to a wider cause. It was the sheer enthusiasm. The love of protest. (more…)

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