Friday, 24 December 2010
Thursday, 9 December 2010
“Watching policeman lying injured on the ground knocked to floor by protesters who're trying to make way past police line.”
“Police trying to control them but clear large numbers of people intent on fighting from word go & police shoving & man-handling protesters”
“Today we will bring down this govt," says an NUS speaker.
I had intended to write a warning to the NUS. A warning about how damaging their irresponsible rhetoric was to young people contemplating university. How damaging it is to encourage radicalism and a lack of objective reasoning in deciding ones political stance. But it now appears pointless.
As I write this I am following reporters and activist statements on the ground via Twitter. All are saying that violence is starting to break out at various points across the march. “We won’t get kettled this time,” one is saying. “If the march continues in present vain there’s an absolute certainty there will be considerable violence,” says Alex Thomson, Channel 4.
Do they realise what they have done? It is unfair to blame just the NUS. The media are also at fault. It is the flaw in a popularised medium that only ‘entertaining’ images area considered newsworthy – the NUS started the protests; splinter groups purportedly infiltrated and started the violence; the media covered it in forensic detail; all student protests since have included grass-roots violence.
The sleepy stereotype of the student is no more. The radicalised and hyperbolically stimulated youth of today is here.
The NUS started it. They did not advocate activism in a reasoned and mature way through lobbying in the correct channels. They advocated peaceful protest – a proud tradition that has been corrupted by violence. This has now been emblazoned on the minds of any and all future university applicants.
I was nervous about attending university. None in my family before me had attended, and even then the pre-top up fees funding was a concern to me. If I had seen these horrific acts of hyperbole, these deplorable instances of violence – I may have thought twice about going.
So here is the crux of my issue. The Government and Opposition. The NUS and UCU. The press and the political commentators. Social responsibility is not coming into their public and transparent discussions. The fear mongering amongst those that do not understand the fine print of the funding proposals will be having a detrimental impact on future social mobility and getting those from lower income families into Higher Education.
In future the NUS and UCU will claim that the Coalition proposals will be hampering bright academic achievers from low socio-economic groups. They cannot be allowed to hide from a huge slice of blame in the event that this occurs.
“The entire police line has just switched to riot gear,” says Polly Curtis, the Guardian.