Friday, 10 December 2010

Protesting too much?

Having shared public transport for a few hours with a group of "student protestors" on Thursday morning (I was heading for a different part of London) I couldn't help noticing how a-political they seemed, certainly compared to the fiercely ideological (that is, rabidly Marxist or Trotskyist) student demonstrators of my own youth. It's a great shame that these mostly decent young people have allowed themselves to be led astray both by violent extremists and perhaps even by their parents, nostalgic for their lost youth and fearing that they themselves may have "sold out," to the materialism of the age, and who now urge their offspring to take part  in a bit of rowdy street theatre of their own.
I can't help thinking that the "glamour" of protest marches loses some of its gloss when the main motivation of those taking part seems not to be solidarity with the poor and disadvantaged but concern over their own future bank balances. Selfless idealism it aint!
But I haven't a huge amount of sympathy either for those politicians who, feeling fairly secure in their role as a perpetual party of opposition, made promises they thought would cost them nothing and who now find themselves faced with the harsh choices of government. The only result of that is a disastrous increase in the already disturbing level of public cynicism about the political process.
Yet the kind of protests we have seen don't help one bit in the necessary and urgent public debate as to how we are best able to fund higher education - and continue to make it available to the less well off -  at a time of financial crisis and austerity and hugely increasing global economic competition.
But what is sure is that urinating on a statue of the twentieth century's greatest prime minister, or attacking the car of the heir to the throne is as silly and vacuous as some of the conversations I overheard early yesterday morning.


  1. Perhaps I am nieve but I took the view that being kettled and perhaps desperate, the chap used the nearest 'wall' to avoid being done for indecent exposure!

  2. I'm certainly not in favour of violence and I can't justify the actions of some protestors.

    Students have tended to support the Liberal Democrats before moving on to one of the major parties in adulthood (I remained with the Lib Dems) so, whilst disagreeing with the violence,I can understand the frustration, anger and sense of utter betrayal felt by the young. Sometimes, in our anger we do things which are unseemly and the two incidents you mention (throwing stuff at C+C'scar and urinating on Churchill' stature) are examples. I shall express my disapproval by no longer voting for the Lib Dems although I have done so since I first had the vote 40 years ago.

    As for Charles and Camilla; good grief, wasn't unseemly for them to appear in a Rolls Royce in the midst of such a protest? They certainly don't have to worry about money, employment or a decent place to live.

  3. Not so much unseemly of them to appear in a Rolls Royce, this wasn't a riot of the poor and oppressed desperate for bread, but a collection of mostly middle class young people bankrolled by their parents who probably paid their train fare to London. It was just stupidity on the part of the Met. or whoever provides royal security. Or do you think they would have been safer in a Ford Focus?

  4. I now see there are reports that the Duchess of Cornwall was annoyed rather than scared - photos can be misleading - but there is an awkward question that will have to be answered. Why the regal procession in hostile circumstances? Witnesses say that the interior lights were switched on in a 'designed to be seen in' car as if to expect cheering rather than jeering crowds. The show of opulence was an unfortunate conjunction with the later.
    The mind boggles with the news that the royal protection squad were only minutes from using firearms.


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