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9.12.2010: Dubstep rebellion - the British banlieue comes to Millbank

Paul Mason | 19:15 UK time, Thursday, 9 December 2010

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1930: They marched to parliament square, got stopped, surged through police lines and trampled onto the grass that had been so painstakingly regrown after the eviction of the peace camp. And then they danced.

The man in charge of the sound system was from an eco-farm, he told me, and had been trying to play "politically right on reggae"; however a crowd in which the oldest person was maybe seventeen took over the crucial jack plug, inserted it into aBlackberry, (iPhones are out for this demographic) and pumped out the dubstep.

Young men, mainly black, grabbed each other around the head and formed a surging dance to the digital beat lit, as the light failed, by the distinctly analog light of a bench they had set on fire.

Any idea that you are dealing with Lacan-reading hipsters from Spitalfields on this demo is mistaken.

While a good half of the march was undergraduates from the most militant college occupations - UCL, SOAS, Leeds, Sussex - the really stunning phenomenon, politically, was the presence of youth: bainlieue-style youth from Croydon, Peckam, the council estates of Islington.

Having been very close to the front line of the fighting, on the protesters side, I would say that at its height - again - it broke the media stereotype of being organised by "political groups": there was an anarchist black bloc contingent, there were the socialist left groups - but above all, again, I would say the main offensive actions taken to break through police lines were done by small groups of young men who dressed a lot more like the older brothers of the dubsteppers.

The fighting itself is still going on - I am seeing people break the windows of HM Revenue and Customs live on TV. At one point after 2pm there were just two lines of riot cops between the students and parliament and it was at this point, with nowhere to go, that people began to push forward and attack the police.

Despite that, those involved were a minority and it was fairly "ritual" involving placard sticks and the remains of the metal fence around Parliament Square, until people realised there was nowhere to break through *to* and changed direction.

I saw them swarm up Victoria Street, at first pushing back a line of mounted police and breaking through various attempts by riot police to form a cordon. But then in successive charges, both the mounted and the foot police charged back.

I saw heavy objects land among the police, amid a much larger volume of paint, fireworks and flashbangs. At one point the horses were unable to contain this and a policeman fell off his horse, being carried away on a stretcher by colleagues. Later the police - who were themselves trapped between two lines of protesters, lost control of their own rear and only contained the breakthrough by batoning people to the floor, including women. By the side of a pub in a nearby street there was a line if injured protesters being triaged by ambulance crews.

By this point many of the seasoned occupiers had moved out of Parliament Square and some were returning to their occupations to discuss where the campaign goes next.

I have seen a lot of public disorder in this part of London over the past 30 years. As a riot it was sporadic; one notable feature is that, while many protesters fight wearing masks, many do not: there is an air of "don't care" - especially among the school students.

Politically, there is an almost total disconnect with the established parties: they had not bothered to send their representatives there - there were a few NUS national officials but no kind of Labour student presence that I could see.

When there are speeches, the university students often defer to the working class young people from sixth forms, who they see as being the main victims of the reform. With the Coalition's majority reduced by 3/4, as I reflected earlier, it is unprecedented to see a government teeter before a movement in whom the iconic voices are sixteen and seventeen year old women, and whose anthems are mainly dubstep.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    hayekism give rise to riots. it did before and it did again. cameron wants a big society now he has it. mob rule by the violent. in macrocosm this leads to somalia.

    the kids, via modern means that bypass traditional media, are being given the opium of anarchy and are smoking it. They watch facebook not NN or the bbc. someone is telling them attractive lies.

    wellington designed inner london like a napoleonic fort and moved all protest out to hyde park. why the current guardian class ignored or forgot the reason for that and moved it back to parliament square beggars belief. but it is consistent with the incompetence.

    There are other features of this 'fort' that could be used. there is no way or need for a thin blue line to stand between a mob and parliament or government buildings. the state is being so unintelligent and being outwitted by people who are no that smart themselves.

    i am sure if they got into any building like parliament or whitehall ministry they would burn it down. its not a game.

  • Comment number 2.

    I dont think the logistics of demo control is the point. As with all demos it is the minority that rise up and do something about their grievance but that does not mean they should be brushed aside as unrepresentative. Paul's observation of the unusual compositing of the different social elements may have strategic significance and there will be plenty of reason over the next few months to test whether this is just an angry zit alliance over a specific issue or the initiation of a more vocal and violent radical protest movement. We will see when in the new year the traditional protest organisers such as the TU's get their act together. The cuts have yet to hit the deck.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nice one Paul, good to see a reporter finally have the cazzi to go and find out the truth themselves - this is not an 'anarchist hijack', the EMA kids are the heart of it, and the police are brutally over-reacting, in a way the Israeli security companies who trained and supplied them in riot control would be very proud of.

    I don't know about Hayek - it doesn't seem that relevant to me at the moment. What is relevant to me is the anger i feel when i see people charged by horses, hit with metal sticks, and then penned in like cattle - all for protesting. Shouting, pushing, throwing stuff, but still just protesting. As paul said, not rioting. I know for a fact that police stopped some coaches coming to the demonstration, despite the recent Fairford trial giving a clear judgement that this is illegal.

    The police force in this country are out of control, the law is a minor irritation to them, there is no organisation that can sanction them, the state is using them as a political tool in a manner that should be reserved for Iran-style dictatorships, and the media is complicit in their criminality.

    One moment from the BBC coverage: around 30 mounted police charge the crowd, through a split line of officers on foot, i.e. a planned manouevre. The BBC reporter sees this and stumbles to describe it in a 'neutral' fashion... "errrr, the police said before that they do not charge... that looked a lot like a charge.." The gears whirr, and hey presto, the caption now reads "mounted police attacked by demonstrators". The gears whirrr again .... "we've just had reports that police have come under attack by snooker balls....." - bingo, the mounted police charging students, seriously injuring some, is justified.

    I am almost alone in 'my circles' in supporting the BBC, but it seems month on month my own confidence in the need for them is eroded. Fox would have reported it the same way, dutifully parrotting the same police misinformation as fact - so why not just have Fox?

    In situations like this, the police lie. All the time. A policeman who's own horse throws him at a Climate Camp was 'dragged down by protesters'. Rather than admitting they initially refused to come to Ian Tomlinson's aid, they said they were 'subjected to a barrage of bottles and other objects'. When footage showed this as a lie, they then said that Tomlinson collapsed of a heart attack. if footage had not been taken, of an officer whipping him with a metal stick for not moving fast enough, their lies would never have been exposed.

    De Menezes: suspicious heavy coat, jumped the ticket barriers, ran onto the train, hand in pocket, the only option was to shoot - all lies, told deliberately to pervert the course of justice.

    Maybe in 30 years time they'll tell the truth, like Blair Peach, but of course then it will be water under the bridge, not worth following up the admissions of perverting the course of justice, and of course murder.

    People say "well, look at the old days, back in the 1970's, look at Italy, Greece, our police are reserved by comparison". No doubt, but in all of those situations, the rules are different, a bit like "what goes on tour stays on tour" - the cops beat up, the cops get beat, everyone goes home at the end of it.

    At todays demonstration, many people will have been hit by the police - their bad luck, but they shouldn't have been there, maybe. They will then be taken to the cells. They will then be charged with assaulting a police officer. If they are lucky, there will be evidence of the police assaulting THEM, and they can use that as a bargaining chip to get the police to drop the charges. If not, they will go to court. In the court there will be no evidence save their own, their 'accomplices', and 5 police officers, who's statements all match perfectly. The case is seen by a magistrate, they will value the police evidence above the 'normal' evidence of the protesters. They will be convicted, fined, or maybe imprisoned.

    And you talk to me about Hayek.

  • Comment number 4.

    The people are very angry - something we have been talking about happening for months on here.

    The politicians are either, IMPO, too dim to realise or too close to the bankers to actually change economic policy. It will, inevitably, result in angrier and angrier protests.

    Real people in the real world - the working and middle classes of this country, and indeed those of North America and Europe, are being squeezed financially whilst the rich are becoming super rich and the super rich now have democracy threatening sums of money.

    History teaches us that you can only go so far before disenchantment becomes protest becomes revolution.

    Take a look at this US Television interview - a VOX POP - with an Irishman. He sums up the mood of people not just in Ireland but across the US, UK and EU.

    WARNING: Strong language, but with good financial reasoning of why we are where we are.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koY6kXhQDQo&feature=player_embedded


  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    4

    anger is an emotion not reason. so what people need is not university courses but anger management courses. so they can't even correctly identify what they need?

  • Comment number 7.

    It looks like the single issue generation has woken up to the fact that the single issue right now is, errrr, them!

  • Comment number 8.

    The Daily Mail is going to be in a dilemma.

    On one hand they may call for the Government to track down, put in gaol and throw away the gaol-door key of those who attacked Charlie and Camilla?

    On the other hand, the rioters mummies and daddies are perhaps their core readership?

    It probably is not illegal to water-board the rioters but it is probably against their Human Rights to take away their Facebook useage and ipads.

    If only the Police had been trained in tactics of how to deal with unruly teenagers. Stopping mummy and daddy picking them up in people carriers would have dispersed the crowd within minutes.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thank you for your Newsnight report Paul. It was heartening to see some authentic journalism in these times.

  • Comment number 10.

    the disconnect with politics and government has hit home with the younger generation and more power to them!

    for decades, people have tried to stand up against bad policy by government of all colours and they have been repeatedly ignored. How are people supposed to show their discontent, just because you dont agree with the policy they are protesting, doesnt mean you should stop them marching or gloat over people being injured.

    the youth of today are seeing that they are going to have to pay for the profligacy of the generation who run this country. and they dont like it and i dont blame them.

  • Comment number 11.

    The image of the expressions on Prince Charles and Camilla's face had an iconic feel to it.

    It must have been quite an eye opener for them to see thier public 'up close and personal' in a raw unfiltered,un -preapproved and unpackaged format for once.

    The expressions on thier faces said it all.

    Deeper than that, the very fact that the car of the heir to the throne of the UK had a window smashed and was daubed in paint is symbolic of the underlying ( but largely un reported or appreciated)fragility of our society and institutions where, in effect, a bunch of 16 year old girls can come within 50 yards of the front door of parliament.

    Similarly a tiny bunch of computer nerds with a grudge can hint at being able to bring financial transaction institutions and large internet based companies to the very edge of chaos. Thirty one thousand people downloaded the mal ware to attack mastercard, visa, amazon, pay pal etc I read, maybe only 10 thousand of those actually implemented it and caused in so doing caused a lot of trouble.

    What if a mere 100,000 people or a tiny (in the context of global access to the www)1 million people got fed up and used it or something similar in the modern equivalent of a demonstation. What then, would the systems of Visa or Barclays or Mastercard or Goldmans or .gov.uk or foxtv.com cope with that?


    Interesting.

  • Comment number 12.

    @3 @9

    +1

  • Comment number 13.

    Long live the dubstep rebellion!

  • Comment number 14.

    11

    just disconnect their access to the internet for breach of the rules. the internet company would be obliged to do that or they would be prosecuted for facilitating internet warfare and be sued for compensation by the affected firms and customers for loss of income.

    the ip addresses will be logged.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lying politicans, bullying police - this is the State.

    The kids are learning quick that there is no justice.

    They won't be voting Liberal, they won't be voting anything.

  • Comment number 16.

    #14

    Even if it was workable (which I doubt).That whole premise breaks down entirely when people feel like they have nothing to lose. That is the starting point of all major change.

    At the moment they feel like the future of the youth of this country is being taken away from them via the burden of, effectively, debt slavery to pay for an education. What happens when they realise it goes much deeper than that even.

    Even if the tuition fees aspect is repealled, they will be training for jobs that simply do not exist nor can ever exist in the context of a highly mechanised high technology society. Unless of course we invent millions of futile 'non jobs' for them to do for the sole purpose of allowing them to 'pay back debts' to keep the pension system going.


    We have failed this generation.

    What future is there for them tell me?

    A job in a call centre or as a local council diversity enforcement officer or champion of street chewing gum removal policy?

    For what purpose?

    Just so they can work in a pointless job just so they can pay back a mountain of worthless debt for the next 15 years to pay for baby boomer pensions while simultaneously being taxed to death to pay back the deficit while simultaneously being offered (by the powers that be) absolutely nothing that constitutes a coherent, viable desirable or sustainable vision of a much better future for everyone which would actually be worth working for....

    What have they got to lose?

    There is an opportunity out there to build a quite different democratic constitution and society that makes best use of our advances in technology rather than concentrating the benefits in the pockets of a tiny minority protected by a lawyer politicians. Organisations like NEF have the right kind of ideas and solid research framework established to show how it may be done and what it may look like.

    Is that not something worth fighting for Jaunty if you were a 17 year old staring in the face of the kind of future their parents and grandparents have left for them.

    What have they got to lose? I dont think the prospect of 'getting sued' by visa or mastercard will deter them somehow (you only sue people with money remember otherwise it is pointless)and I doubt a restraining order banning them for using a computer would do the trick either.

    Perhaps offering them a well worked out tangible vision of a quite different society which includes them being a productive part of it may do the trick.

    Try again Jaunty...

  • Comment number 17.

    I thank you for your reporting, Paul.

  • Comment number 18.

    This is a wholesale marketisation of university education based on people without income speculating by getting into a large amount of personal debt.

    Markets. Debt. Speculating. We're not learning here.

  • Comment number 19.

    bainlieue or banlieue?

  • Comment number 20.

    "I am almost alone in 'my circles' in supporting the BBC, but it seems month on month my own confidence in the need for them is eroded. Fox would have reported it the same way, dutifully parrotting the same police misinformation as fact - so why not just have Fox?"

    Why would you watch BBC news? Whatever it's bias, it's so dumb. It's like a comic. I haven't watched it in years of my own volition. Now and again when I'm round the in-laws they watch it and it drives me nuts. It's garbage.

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with Allister Heath!

    http://www.cityam.com/news-and-analysis/allister-heath/the-real-issue-the-size-the-state

    Cut the state down from 51% of GDP to 49%. Hayek eat your heart out.

    Let's up state spending yet again because the last generation made a massive mess but it's not fair that the next one can't too!

    ps you don't get articles like this on the BBC because it's state funded. They are a massive part of the problem. Check out the stephanomics blog - she gets nothing but abuse on the last one for a bland report. Even I think many responses were a bit harsh.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yes, the police got it wrong - again: but then they have had a smooth ride for a long time and have forgotten that the way to deal with a large demonstration is to keep it moving and disperse it in a large open space like Hyde Park. It is not as if they don't have the legislation in place to arrange that.

    Crowd control apart this is not a vanguard of a revolution or even a rebellion it is nothing more than a reaction to losing free money. It is the petulant outburst of a childish generation spoiled by electronic gadgets and a sense of entitlement indulged by the policies of a previous government that was so incompetent it broke the economy.

    I agree that higher education should be free but there should also be full employment. However, nobody seems to be arguing for full employment and the sort of economy to sustain it but rather more handouts from a polity already broken by its generous idiocy.

    The issue I have with the EMA is why is Britain the only country which has to pay its sixth formers to got to school? Are our sixth forms that bad! In most countries pupils will welcome the opportunities that education will bring.

    Lastly Paul, romantic thoughts about the banlieues of London are plain silly. Sure there is poverty in London and I am familiar with its smell. But anyone young and fit who cannot get work in an employment hot-spot in London is the sort of person who would starve in Fortnum's Food Hall if locked in overnight.

    This entire issue is about the economy and the consistent failure to address the reality of our circumstances as a nation. Government upon government has taken the soft option of indulging the people and sticking it on the credit card to the point that the people don't understand that they have to work any more. The radical change is to reintroduce work, value adding work into people's lives that brings them satisfaction, a sense of achievement and the respect of society.

  • Comment number 23.

    The expression on Camilla's face is evocative of Edvard Munch's iconic painting. Her experience should help to develop her character!

  • Comment number 24.

    The political classes lead the masses up the hill towards "opportunity and fairness" , get caught with their snouts in the trough, socialise market losses, sign pledges for votes and proclaim 'clean' politics, write Coalition 'agreements' to take power and, then, exhibit the 'agreement' ( not a mandate) as a reason to abandon their pledges and promises, leading the masses back down the hill to the "big society".

    Who can really blame the youth for beleiving it all stinks?

  • Comment number 25.

    Saw you on the barricades on your report Paul, thanks for your reports.
    Even Kirsty was warming up a bit on NN but gave Willetts a far too easy ride - if anyone has written the manifesto for the young disaffected he has. If government doesn't address the problems in youth (un)employment and education as they patently do not seem to be able to do then this will simmer on.
    #22stanilic great post again - the problem is employment or lack of it. If that mismatch continues then the problem becomes lack of hope (as in Palestine) then real violence will start. To have hope we need a plan for the country going forward, not a tactical reduction in government spend. If the government had a plan then they wouldn't have switched the emphasis of cuts to trimming welfare. Until we start producing what the rest of the world wants, goods or services, the UK is doomed to a long slow stagnation, a divided society rich and poor, worker and unemployed.

  • Comment number 26.

    An Oxbridge PPE at £9,000 pa looks like a bargain from Eaton and an impossibility from Acton.

    So guess where the front bench will be coming from in future.

  • Comment number 27.

    Listening to VC in the house and after in interviews, the reasoned case for tuition fees seems plausible and sensible. The Labour party has yet to articulate a serious alternative approach, either at the micro level of policy or at a macro level of alternative ideology. So we're stuck. We're in a dialogue between reason of a political establishment and it's orthodoxies and a disconnected but emotion young generation. Lots of heat, very little light. Too many sacred cows of economic and social ideology of the past 30 years are still in place to allow any radical alternative to be put forward. Ideological policy per se is deemed bad idea on all sides: as Labour berate the ConDems for being ideological, they make a rod for their own back, trapping themselves in an ever-present rejigging of the policy deck chairs, still wedded to the idea that Governing is merely about management with some floaty "values" attached.

    In the narrow sense of trying to reduce Govt expenditure and still keeping the scale of the Uni industry the same it can seem that VC's solution is the only equitable way forward. But this is merely a practical solution to a problem within a FIXED political economy of free market capitalism. This as we all know is now defunct and yet to be replaced by anything approaching any coherence.

    However, the Govt's view is only "reasonable" and "the only sensible way forward" if we agree not to question the low taxes for "middle income" earners, "flexible labour markets" and a low wage society, and all the other accepted wisdoms of the past 30 years. A new post neocon economy has yet to be forged and we're still in mopping the remains of the old one, and so still trapped within its orthodoxies.

    When we see a perfectly reasonable and well-argued policy (which deals with the political and financial difficulties of the country and offers a different but plausible and equitable way forward) result in a outcome which is seen by many as INequitable, unfair and regressive, and the normal mediation of policy have no impact on those at the sharp end, something is seriously out of joint. Disconnect has eventually erupted into outright rebellion. The apathy of Generation X, the sense that "there's nothing we can do to change things", has gone. When those EMA students from "the slums of London" still see bankers swanning around in Bentleys, Bugattis and politicians make accurate but sophisticated arguments about why broken manifesto promises are NOT broken promises but them "honouring the coalition agreement" they must think, hat's the point "being reasonable". the Met Commissioner says invokes the "any reasonable person" again to condemn the violence, but when the routes of reasoned argument and peaceful political pressure appears mendacious, bankrupt and out of touch a bit of good 'ole revolting seems the only reasonable option left. After all, we learned how effective peaceful protest was in 2003. Not a jot.

    The EMA school children who protested had NOTHING in common with the political establishment they sought to assail. They've been brought up in an age of instant everything, instant knowledge, instant glamour, fame, glory and wealth. Being part of society for them was about owning all the latest "stuff" bought cheaply and on credit. their only hope of escaping into a better life is to get a decent education.

    A graduate education is now seen as almost (rightly or wrongly) a birthright, and a degree is now not something unusual bur standard in the labour market. Without one or a trade qualification young people are virtually unemployable, not out of choice but out of procedure and tick box culture demands skills sets and bits of paper over ability/attitude/adaptability. We have no so much a lost generation but a "left behind" generation. That the fees are paid retrospectively by high earners only etc etc misses the point: higher fees and EMA withdrawal is a signal to those 17 yr olds smashing windows that the mistakes of another bunch of (economic) geeks and their once self-satisfied political puppeteers are to be paid with the impoverished hopes of the Dubstep generation.

    The struggle for a new settlement is just beginning.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hey Paul! You are one of my favourite journalists/reporters....

    What a refreshing change to see a really balanced and compassionate report on the student demos.

    The disgrace is the scrapping of EMA and this is without doubt a direct attack on working class kids across the country. A government that values not its young people by fully funding equality of access to education at ALL levels, is to put it bluntly, a Government who will preside over not just material impoverishment but an impoverishment of the creative and intellectual life of this country.

    Seeing that vote passed yesterday and watching open-mouthed as Gove the Insane and lying Lib Dems rush through draconian and savage legislation against every aspect of State Education in this country makes me want to scream with rage and despair.

    This will be the Tories' and Liberal Democrat's Poll Tax and Iraq War, all rolled into one.

  • Comment number 30.

    25 tonyparksrun

    I agree that Kirsty gave Willets a smooth ride. However, she had earlier come on at Vince Cable like a screeching harridan. It was most unbecoming, as if she had started to take in washing or gut fish on the docks. Doesn't she realise that nobody can out-Paxman Paxman? He has raised rudeness to an art form.

  • Comment number 31.

    trikikidi - "The struggle for a new settlement is just beginning."

    Youngsters are being asked to work their whole lives to pay for mollycoddling the boomers into their marble headstone embossed graves. The funny thing is it's not a case of just giving them a bit less - they have already spent +all+ the money. It's gone!

    Nobody on that protest will get a pension like the boomers. The NHS in it's current form will be gone. No free uni places. Vastly reduced benefit. And during all this taxes don't go down much so we can pay for people who lived it up and have no pension. If you have parents who own, when they die you get their house, but now you are 60 yourself, and retirement age is now 83.

    Scooby doo words of wisdom: "I woulda got away with it if it wasn't for you pesky kids"

  • Comment number 32.

    Doesn't 50% of kids going to uni rather let employers off the hook? Can't employers train part of the workforce? I do wonder whether we'd be better off with fewer students doing full-time degrees, but for free, and a much stronger business training/apprenticeship sector. I almost didn't go to uni in favour of training as a buyer at Marks and Spencer straight after A levels, but they don't seem to offer this level of training any more. My brother left school at 16 and did an apprenticeship with Taylor Woodrow that led to a sponsored ONC, then HNC, then a degree at Liverpool.

    Why doesn't Osborne tell the meany-meany banks they must all fund X thousand kids through uni in return for NMW work during the summer vac, for example? Instead, we get some Big Society mumbo jumbo about dormant accounts and a people's bank. There's no joined up thinking.

    As for the "riots" - while I resist approving of violence, I must say that anything providing evidence that the entire UK population isn't anaesthetised to everything that's going on has to be a good thing.

  • Comment number 33.

    Gorlagon, yours is a sensible solution but employers have spent the past 30 years escaping any notion of training the workforce. There was a time when we had apprenticeships etc that were paid in part by employer but allowed the young person to go to college.

    But businesses in the main have offloaded the cost onto the state via HE and university. Then the state offloads the costs off onto the young. Result being that education goes from being paid by businesses/state to the person.

    If you take the long view of the past 30 years you can see how much of social wage/welfare has been eroded and put onto the individual leading to income disparity, breakdown in communities etc. And, crucially, the only way for low waged people to get a decent living is to rely on credit/loans fueling another bubble

  • Comment number 34.

    #30 stanilic...agreed most unbecoming.
    I thought Vince on NN however looked a broken man realising he had sold his principles for brief sojourn in power, desperately trying to argue his case, but looking rather old and out of touch.
    I agree with #32 that the banks should be 'persuaded' to directly sponsor scholarships for x hundred school leavers for every staffer who receives over say £1m in salary + bonus. Tie the cost of developing future prosperity (education + skills) of the country to those who destroyed prosperity in the crisis. Just the sort of political finesse that the GOM, Gladstone himself, would have approved of.

  • Comment number 35.

    33. At 11:58am on 10 Dec 2010, littlekeefer wrote:
    ...But businesses in the main have offloaded the cost onto the state via HE and university. Then the state offloads the costs off onto the young. Result being that education goes from being paid by businesses/state to the person.
    ------------------------------------------

    This is of course inevitable. It was always going to happen as profits must always head upwards and costs downwards. No bigger picture allowed for in the MBA brainwashed world of ever more shareholder value in a wider world of consequently diminishing value.
    Also the "paid for by the person" inevitably becomes "paid for by debt". Without higher wages the debt may go unpaid. With higher wages the shareholder value is compromised. No win?

  • Comment number 36.

    "Why doesn't Osborne tell the meany-meany banks they must all fund X thousand kids through uni in return for NMW work during the summer vac, for example?"

    littlekeefer - this is an absurd suggestion from Gorlagon. Totally small thinking that will solve nothing. In a country where finance forms too much of the economy we get banks to create internships for most school-leavers.

    How in a country where state spending accounts for 50% of GDP has welfare been eroded? The state itself is strangling productivity because much of the work is done by paper-pushing civil servants who spend about 15% of the time collecting efficiency stats that nobody will ever read. In the end it all has to be offloaded back onto the individual as all spending is paid for by tax, not by some magic pot in the Treasury.

    "And, crucially, the only way for low waged people to get a decent living is to rely on credit/loans fueling another bubble"

    Or go to night school and then get a better job. I'm not saying it's not easy, or that the odds are not stacked against lower income kids, but debt is not the only way to get a decent living.

    Cut uni back to the redbricks, then the state pays for talented kids from poorer backgrounds. This is missing right now and is an outrage. Tell average students they have to learn on the job, or pay for their degree. Everyone wins as micky-mouse degrees are a complete waste of time.

  • Comment number 37.

    I was in the Parliament Square kettle until about 6:45 and I think you're missing some of the demographic. Not everyone there was a teenager bent on mayhem. I'm 43, employed in a University library and am appalled at what this government is doing to education. I went to non-violently protest, and when things turned ugly, I (like everyone else) was trapped.

  • Comment number 38.

    34 tonyparksrun

    Take it from me as I look forward to my 63rd birthday when you are over 60 you do look old and you are rather out of touch. I talk to the lads here - lads, hark at me the old git, they are usually around thirty, give or take - about things which seem like yesterday to me which happened before they were born.

    To think that the retirement age has been pushed up to 67: my old Dad got mortally ill at 68! Work until you drop as we are all getting older: you bet! So much for all the baby boomers nicking all the money! Drown in all the BS, more like.

  • Comment number 39.

    What does bainlieue mean please? sorry, never was much good at French at school.

    Didn't realise you had to read French to read the Guardian. Just a peasant, me, clearly. Not one of the cultural elite. I assume this is a show of cultural elitism and not just showing off anyway.

    I am guessing the people you're reporting about don't use the word bainlieue in everyday conversation either, unless they are studying French at school / university. I suppose it's some sort of historical-cultural reference I should be familiar with if I am to read the Guardian? Can I take a guess at a term used to describe Paris 1968 student riots?

  • Comment number 40.

    Banlieu means suburb in French. But is mainly used these days to refer to the ghetto housing estates that surround Paris.

  • Comment number 41.

    mgaved

    Should we all just use the most simple terms we can so that we don't exclude anyone, just like in our failing schools? Is Paul wrong to be well educated? Or should he pretend he isn't, so as not to exclude anyone?

    To be demonstrably well educated is to be regarded above one's peers in the UK, which is to be hated by an anti-meritocratic society.

    ps I didn't know what it meant either but I'm very grateful to have my knowledge expanded.

  • Comment number 42.

    Didn't Labour force everyone to get an NVQ in everything - NVQ in getting out of bed, NVQ in brushing teeth, NVQ in a zillion and one pointless things... which created a vast army of NVQ trainers... and an even greater army of people who were basically NVQ qualified in paper-shuffling?

    What I am trying to say here is that British Governments have become obsessed with 'bits of paper' qualifications, be they degrees, NVQs or anything else, whilst real hands-on skills training in real money-making income generating jobs for UK PLC has basically disappeared.

    Take journalism for example - is the industry better today for the thousands who are churned out each year with degrees and NVQs in journalism... or was it better when people were actually trained on the job as cub reporters?

    What about nurses who have paper qualifications as long as your arm but who have not, and will not, ever wipe a bottom or mop up a pile of vomit.

    I am amazed Labour didn't simply stop practical military training and simply force all new Army recruits to do a 2 year NVQ in 'fighting theory'.

  • Comment number 43.

    42 tawse57

    There is nothing wrong with a vocational qualifications. I have twice used NVQs to train workforces who would otherwise have no noticeable definition of their skill. The sense of pride in someone who has been failed by their schooling that they have a qualification is well worth the effort on all sides.

    In the same way if I want to employ someone who can think I would tend to look at graduate or A Level candidates and then train them in the job. The worst words in the recruitment market to my mind are `self- starter' but accept that in some areas that can be valid.

    I do agree that there has been a tendency to use certificates like confetti but that was more a product of the target culture than any expression as to the competence of the vocational training process.

    What we need more than anything are the jobs for the people: trained or untrained as without the jobs and the sound economy to go with them we are truly up the creek.

  • Comment number 44.

    43 stanilic

    I will let you in on a little secret - we are not only already up the creek but the paddle has been burnt, the canoe sold and the creek is now owned by foreign investors who will charge us for paddling up it.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    stanillic

    "What we need more than anything are the jobs for the people: trained or untrained as without the jobs and the sound economy to go with them we are truly up the creek."

    Try hiring good people in IT. It's a complex task that requires a lot of time to learn. Many candidates are hired from abroad. You can learn IT if you have a laptop and nothing else, except character and hard work.

    ps this assumes stuff like being able to read but if that is the minority

  • Comment number 47.

    11: Jericoa - "Deeper than that, the very fact that the car of the heir to the throne of the UK had a window smashed and was daubed in paint is symbolic"

    Aye, symbolic of Machiavelli.

    All the worlds a stage, thus it was interesting to note the billboard advertisments for Wizard of Oz (a story with deep symbolic / occult meaning)at the heavily illuminated "Royal Variety Show" theatre. Wikileaks "logo" too carries a story, 2 worlds set inside an hourglass, obviously the sand shifting from top to bottom, the contents remaining the same, a "new world" created. Symbolically.

    cheers

  • Comment number 48.

    Great bit of journalism Paul, so nice to see someone focusing on something other than Charles and Camilla's brush with some of their 'ungreatful subjects'!

    Yesterday left me wrestling with a couple of issues. I'm not a violent protestor and never will be but I'm struggling to condemn those that were fighting yesterday because of everything this current student protest has achieved. Resignations, party divisions, govt majority cut by 3/4 and even tory rebellion! I am however extremely uncomfortable with the throwing of concrete blocks and snooker balls that I saw yesterday, this I feel is going too far. I would however go as far as to compare this with some actions by police yesterday...a two tonne charging horse can do just as much damage as a hurled snooker ball!

    With regards to your assessment of the dubstep revolution, I agree with you in part...but I also can't help but think that many of those young lads were just angry at society/police/govt in general and looking for an opportunity to strike back. Its just sad that their voice is lost in the violence, but in this society thats the only form of expression that will get them heard or noticed.

  • Comment number 49.

    Were any of these protesters working class or even middle class?

    Or were they all sons and daughters of the super rich, former rock stars and hooray henries with something in town and something in the country?

    Tremendous sense of entitlement in all that violence.

  • Comment number 50.

    Perhaps the students would be happy to pay for their own tertiary education if the current and past generations would pay for their own profligacy manifested in the national debt. Liam Fox pointed out on BBC QT last night that the interest on this debt is now £46billion/year and this excludes ongoing public sector pension commitments which make the figure X3.

    No doubt the national debt also includes the tuition fees and grants of those that had their tertiary educations completely for free, including living expenses too.

    It's taken Nick Clegg 6 months to go from being the new political messiah, cleaning up politics and being the party of integrity, to total moral bankruptcy, just like all the others, reneging on personal promises made, given in return for the student vote. It's fraud, and when the democratic system fails, what else is left other than, if necessary, violent protest in the face of considerable police provocation, directed at the instruments and infrastructure of this corrupt state in order to achieve justice.

    I trust the students keep going. They are right to demand Clegg and his party keep to their word.

  • Comment number 51.

    Dicko 1966 :"It's fraud, and when the democratic system fails, what else is left other than, if necessary, violent protest in the face of considerable police provocation, directed at the instruments and infrastructure of this corrupt state in order to achieve justice."

    And from there Dicko. Who will be our "leaders", who will help us achieve justice. The same people that administer justice just now - the Crown ?

    cheers

  • Comment number 52.

    Dicko - spot on. The only generation who didn't get us into this mess is the kids. They are innocent of the mismanagement and greed that has left every man, woman and child in the UK, on average, in debt. People might criticise the violence but the root cause is the 50+ bracket. Pensions and property are all in the hands of this generation and both these are the cause of much woe.

    Regarding Clegg. Students have made the same mistake as the boomers. Before you vote for someone who promises the moon on a stick - ask ourself, can they deliver, and if they do, what are the consequences for me, the rest of the country and the next generation. Are they right to demand that a fool keeps his promise?

    The real rub is that this generation will have to come to terms with a double gap. First cuts back to a sustainable level - this is really a return to the norm but the kids have only known 10 years of mental Labour state building so it feels unfair. Second, the really unfair part, more cuts to pay the debt / interest on the excess of the "adults". The kids are being asked to pick up the bill.

    Cut the pensions and let people under a certain age build houses on green belt, that they have to own for a decade to stop speculation. Change the law to give civil servants limited redundancy and get the pink slips out. That will prove very redistributive!

  • Comment number 53.

    Perhaps the "dubstep" Generation should form there own Political Party run for Office, and "be the man".

    Now that would be brilliant when they Phoned President Obama and asked how things were in the Hood?

  • Comment number 54.

    Ben 52: "People might criticise the violence but the root cause is the 50+ bracket. Pensions and property are all in the hands of this generation and both these are the cause of much woe."

    You are surely misguided here. The root cause is the system, not the actual people. That's the system that had two wars where a percentage of your culprits no doubt fought (not that I am saying war is acceptable, they are heroes, it was worthwhile - but they did fight, and if they were like my Grandad, saw the scam retrospectivly and with hindsight and age, thus wisdom) to keep us free. As I hinted, it was misguided.

    This system, allowed them to build their own utilities, gas lecky blah blah, and a large proportion of the working population (mostly men - women looked after the bairns and suchlike) were employed. It was a bit more laid back. As were a lot of jobs.

    Once the 80's came, "Thatcher" (The State) sold the things that "we" had built for "us", back to "us". "She" made sure that the share prices were low. Then "she" sold us "our" houses back - the ones that were meant for rent. Few new ones were built.

    You are buying into a scam Ben, a scam to create a one world order where we are all basically bonded slaves. Bonded to the State and Crown. You have fallen for a deception, it is not the 50+'s fault.

    It was created to be like this so you could feel like this.

    cheers

  • Comment number 55.

    Just to prove my point, read Phillip Blond's "In defence of Kings and Queens: why the monarch matters", published today on this site:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11930839

  • Comment number 56.

    I'd say it wasn't those who went to war. Those guys did something we can never repay. More 40 - 70 who got us into this mess.

    "The root cause is the system, not the actual people."

    Lots of "us" and "them" in your post. The people make the system. We win our rights over and over, every day, or they are taken away whilst we watch Eastenders. Labour has taken away a hell of a lot. I'm not surprised to hear that it wasn't anyone's fault though. It never is in Britain.

    "a scam to create a one world order where we are all basically bonded slaves"

    Not sure what you mean by this. Yet another conspiracy theory on the BBC boards? Sigh. That link made me quite ill, so I'm not of that mindset, thanks.

    Quote: "So to defend democracy, we need more than democracy." - my marx obsessed Geography lecturers were full of stuff like that. I remember "Because Marxism has been almost totally eclipsed by capitalism makes it more important that before". Magic counter-intuitive doublethink gobbledegook.

    Thanks for instead of addressing questions I've posed like pensions, the gap between generations etc, just posting something that says I'm confused and that it's a conspiracy. How unusual to receive that response on the internet...

  • Comment number 57.

    Lol, Ben, it was you who stated they were 50+, not me. "but the root cause is the 50+ bracket"

    "Lots of them and us", I never used the words at all. You are, in legal parlance, putting words in my mouth.

    As regards the usual "conspiracy theorist" nonsense you spout, again you show your immaturity. If you spent some time thinking and perhaps reading the BBC link you claim makes you "ill" , then you might gain some wisdom.

    As for your "to defend democracy we need more than democracy" quote spouted by your communist teacher, what has that got to do with me; you seem to imply such.

    Lastly, you did not ask any questions in your comment, rather just stated your misguided nonsense.

  • Comment number 58.

    "I know what you’re thinking: “Did he fire six shots, or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this moderator delay, I’ve kinda lost track myself.

  • Comment number 59.

    The state is growing with the size of big business. The two go hand in hand. They are two sides of the same coin/problem. This latest crisis has not been created by Labour or even by government. It has been in the making over a quarter of a century in this country as financial companies based in the UK have taken on more and more debt.

    The solution is not to tarmac over the greenbelt although restrictions on speculation in the housing market is a step in the right direction, and may resolve to restrictions on transactions and not just availability of credit and not just in the market for homes.

    Remember the government has decided what a mickey mouse degree is - the humanities. All of it.

  • Comment number 60.

    Mr Mason, I've no time to comment in full yet as I am running late for a gig (a dubstep gig).

    However, where dubstep has anything to do with this I have no idea. Before you try to tag what is clearly an ugly protest to what is, ultimately a musical movement without any prejudice or violence, you should perhaps know yourself what dubstep music sounds like.

    Your clips, and all of the clips I have seen on the BBC website from this protest have contained no dubstep music whatsoever.

    I also find the way in which this article has attempted to put the protesters into "class" brackets - defending the upper class as the quiet side of the protest whilst tarnishing the middle and lower class as the troublesome dubstep element of the protest quite shocking.

    But please, before you write your controversial headlines which are clearly going to only amount to bad press for the musical genre I played a part in building from it's foundations, at least take time to KNOW what dubstep music even sounds like.

    I was employed to present a dubstep radio show on BBC Radio 1 for 18 months. If anyone knows what dubstep sounds like, it would almost certainly be me.

    Yours Sincerely

    Chris Reed
    P.K.A. Plastician

  • Comment number 61.

    #45 Yep that's been done before. 16th August 1819. But don't forget you are talking here about what we would ordinarily call middle class kids and their parents. Kids like Alfie Meadows.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11967098

    Shall we just target the kids in Paul's banlieue? Pulverise them and the Meadows family and their ilk will fall in line?

  • Comment number 62.

    Plastican I actually think you are completely missing the direction that Paul Mason is coming from. He is not tarnishing middle and lower class people. He is saying that the lower class pupils are taking a leading role. In his other writings, for instance "Live Working or Die Fighting" Paul notes that when a movement of what you call lower class people organise for a purpose the result tends to be more or less successful compared to being mobilised behind other people's political agandas. I'd recommend the book.

    Here's a review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/129260377

  • Comment number 63.

    spaceman - if this isn't conspiracy based I'm not sure what could be more grand in scale:

    "You are buying into a scam Ben, a scam to create a one world order"

    This paragraph is entirely about the state vs people, ie them / us:

    "Once the 80's came, "Thatcher" (The State) sold the things that "we" had built for "us", back to "us". "She" made sure that the share prices were low. Then "she" sold us "our" houses back - the ones that were meant for rent. Few new ones were built. "

    Regarding my quote from the link, I was highlighting the usual academic doublethink that is used to support a case that cannot be supported directly.

    I didn't ask question in my comment, but if you reply to it stating I'm wrong the onus is on you to address why I'm wrong, not simply state it then suggest I read other items which have no bearing on my point that the kids have no chance when prior generations have made a mountain of debt. Is it immature to say that kids now have no blame for the debt we find ourselves in and those old enough to hold positions of power or to have voted them in when promised the earth do?

    I'm surprised you can't see these points above in some way, rather than totally dismissing them. I disagree with your views on the monarchy. We'll have to stay apart on that as it's rather like religion, you take it or leave it, but there you go.

  • Comment number 64.

    Is it the big one on Saturday, bigfight night ?

  • Comment number 65.

    Deeply surprised by the rather dismissive journalism displayed in BBC's recent Newsnight show reporting on the student riots: As Continental European citizens we might be more used to go to the streets. The imbalances in the violent articulation of the UK students' protests are all to obvious and must be condemned, that's all too obvious. However, is it not in the human nature to be deeply upset if your financial future is betrayed by a party? Is it not worth talking about the police tacticians that deeply deprive the rights of honest and peaceful citizens? Don't we have to protest against both such betrays? And what do we make of a media that conforms with a political regime that is deeply afraid, of another meltdown, another tax hole, its leaving bankers and, to distract a little, from their protesting students?

  • Comment number 66.

    45: That would just make the situation far worse, if you think you can curb this state of affairs by simply firing into crowds of protesters you are sorely mistaken. This would just exacerbate this situation, not to mention draw massive amounts of world attention.

    I think the protests were a great show of force after someone has been caught lying red handed. Though I don’t agree with the violence in any degree when you back people into a corner what do you expect? It’s like poking a caged tiger with a stick.

    I am certainly not conding this as i know the police have a tough job and im sure most acted with reason and dignity.

  • Comment number 67.

    Next time one of you middle class trots is mugged by one of the slum dwellers, tell them how fabulous you thought their performance at the demo was, whilst containing your homo-erotic excitement. Maybe they will let you keep some of your valuables, then again, probably not.

  • Comment number 68.

    I am really glad to see a BBC journalist who finds out the facts for himself as opposed to relying on cliches. Paul Mason always gives a balanced view of what is really going on. I was at the demo and I can confirm that there were quite a lot of very young kids simply very angry, as well as the usual student crowd. Young people are experimenting what state and police violence can really be, and nothing has prepared them for that. It is also clear that many protest because society fails to offer them a future. To scrap the EMA is like pulling a red flag in front of an already angry bull. And, yes, this movement is disorganised, spontaneaous and at odds with the NUS leadership.

  • Comment number 69.

    Thank you Paul for the most accurate and thoughtful reporting and analysis I have seen of Thursday's protest.

    I observed the battle in Victoria St from the vantage point of Nelson Mandela's statue (quite like the idea of being sheltered by Mandela), and it appeared to me that there were provocations on both sides. It was just the kids from the slums – I saw masked white men collecting rocks or pieces of concrete and readying security fencing for action. What surprised me was that every time the police charged, the crowd surged toward them. And these were not a small group of masked commandos, but a large number of young men and women who cooperated with and supported those in the front line.

    It strikes me that we have seen here the nucleus of a revolutionary movement - people who, fired by their anger and sense of betrayal by an illegitimate government, have so lost their fear that they are willing to pit their unprotected bodies against the helmeted, padded and armed might of the state. How has it come to this? Because we have a government without a mandate for radical change that has taken advantage of a manageable fiscal crisis to rush through ideologically-motivated neoliberal policies that threaten to destroy the life chances of most working- and middle-class young people. It is all the more outrageous that this is only possible because the party that most courted and represented such young people - the LibDems - has so betrayed them, not just by its preference for office over honour, but by the revelation of the neo-liberal mindset that cripples them.

    There are many good posts here, but 27 is especially worth reading:
    "the Govt's view is only "reasonable" and "the only sensible way forward" if we agree not to question the low taxes for "middle income" earners, "flexible labour markets" and a low wage society, and all the other accepted wisdoms of the past 30 years."

    Any government stupid enough to (effectively) abolish EMAs deserves the storm it is surely stirring up. It is up to the rest of us to continue the struggle and to convince these justifiably alienated youth that they are not alone. Only then will we mobilise their energy into a constructive political movement that will transcend the stupidities of violent confrontation.

    But that assumes that some sanity prevails at the Met, and that the kinds of needless police provocation evident yesterday
    (police in riot gear surrounding even the start of the student demonstration in Malet Street; indiscriminate kettling of entirely peaceful protesters from 4pm until after 11pm on a cold night as a form of collective punishment) are not repeated.

  • Comment number 70.

    sorry, I omitted a crucial word:
    "It was just the kids from the slums" should be 'It was NOT just the kids from the slums'

  • Comment number 71.

    I would just like to point out to people from outside of the UK that many of the views expressed here are far from representative when it comes to the British people. It is vital that right-minded people deprecate some of the views expressed in this debate.
    The students have a right to *peaceful* protest. When giving tacit approval to non-peaceful means, commenters should take time to formulate their views on the basis of a sound moral framework. There is no excuse for violence here. Any encouragement of such is dangerous and irresponsible.
    With the tea part movement in the US, I was dismayed by some of the inarticulate and unpleasant opinions voiced in recent elections. Some of the comments here demonstrate a strong and experienced command of the English language but are equally lacking in the ethical sense. It just goes to show that there is little correlation between eloquence and wisdom.
    I have never understood anarchism. I have no ill feeling towards the cuddly breed of them. However, the violent ones are a different matter. Just out of interest, could anyone give my an example of something worthwhile achieved by an anarchist group?
    Feel free to contribute constructive views on republicanism but not here. Using the attack on the royal vehicle as launchpad for your republican views just isn't decent - and it doesn't further your cause.
    A weekend of reflection for the student. A weekend in Darfur for pampered, angry anarchist.
    PS On Youtube, is it really necessary to use foul language when commenting on a video? And can the 4chan anarchists stop mentioning Justin Bieber?

  • Comment number 72.

    As has already been mentioned in previous posts, the real problem is unemployment
    The capitalist system loves unemployment, it drives down wages and conditions for all levels of employee.
    Capitalism purposely creates a pool of 1-3 million unemployed people to achieve this, and uses immigration to keep the pool topped up and there fore wages and conditions low and this is a policy that ALL political parties subscribe to.
    The unemployment figures are kept artificially low by raising the school leaving age, by encouraging 50% of young people to go into higher education when once they would have taken a job, and then passing the law that allows older people to continue working way past the retirement age.
    Full employment should be the main goal of the government.
    I for one salute the young rioters and hope that as this situation progress's that people from all walks of life join in and together take control back from the capitalist elite. capital has its place but should be used to benefit society as a whole not just the banking industry.

  • Comment number 73.

    #71
    "I have never understood anarchism. I have no ill feeling towards the cuddly breed of them. However, the violent ones are a different matter. Just out of interest, could anyone give my an example of something worthwhile achieved by an anarchist group?"

    The IRA, used to blow people up, now they have two of their ranks in parliament and a devolved admistration in Ireland.
    Look at all the communist east European states that fell to democracy back in the 80's, lots of violence there. Or how about the American revolution, or the American civil war, the War for civil libertys in America or South Africa etc, if you look at every single regime change they have all involved violence and at the time the ruling elite classed them as anarchists bent of bringing down society, when in fact the ruling elite where protecting their own interests.
    Unfortunately history shows us that those in power only relinquish it when staring down the barrel of a gun, otherwise they just ignore the peoples protests, so to answer your question when has violence ever changed anything, all the time

  • Comment number 74.

    ...propergander

    "The unemployment figures are kept artificially low by raising the school leaving age, by encouraging 50% of young people to go into higher education when once they would have taken a job, and then passing the law that allows older people to continue working way past the retirement age."

    I think it's not so simple regarding retirement. Technology is automating simple manual tasks, eroding these types of jobs. Others are going abroad. Meanwhile life expectancy is going up, so retirement age has to track this.

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=168

    People say there are now not enough jobs thanks to later retirement, but people used to work until they died, and now they stop early. Now that people stop early those in work have to pay high taxes to keep them in comfort for at least 10 years, probably over 15 for those retiring now, which means more hard work for youngsters.

    It's my belief that by the time they get to be old they will have no state based final salary pension schemes, and most other state benefits will have gone as this is a one-time-only generational splurge that has left the UK in a mountain of debt. Young people should be focusing on this iceberg rather than the more literal interpretation of employment opportunities as it's missing the greater prize.

    ps it's not just the government. The private sector has pension deficits aplenty as just like Gordon Brown, they base estimates on growth each year every year forever. ie more boom and boom

    From:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/may/19/ftse-firms-pension-deficits

    "If reductions continue at this rate, final salary schemes will have six years left of life; if the trend accelerates, which is likely given recent announcements of pension scheme closures, then the lifespan of the final salary scheme may be as little as two to three years."

    Everybody in? Pull the ladder up boomers!

    "I woulda got away with it if it wasn't for you pesky kids"

  • Comment number 75.

    73 Governmentdept4propergander

    One of the most remarkable things about the fall of the communism in the Eastern Bloc was how peaceful it was.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ Plastician

    more like the UK Funky Generation pal (at 3.10).

    Dubstep is the music of impotent male rage, commercialized rebellion. Dubstep is dead, so is apathy.

  • Comment number 77.

    #73 - Governmentdept4propergander

    "Look at all the communist east European states that fell to democracy back in the 80's, lots of violence there".

    Actually surprisingly little violence. Did you see baton charges when the Berlin Wall came down? Was there gunfire when a Hungarian officer simply cut the barbed wire and ended the Iron Curtain forever?

    No - the violence came before then. Desperate people desperate to hold on to power- and when they realised they were beaten, they simply walked away. The kind of thuggery to which you refer is the preserve of the western democracies - and if that is not an oxymoron, I don't know what is.

    PAUL.
    Last time I was here, the footage was not posted. Having looked at it, I am reinforced in my view that the complaints are legitimate, the thuggery of the authorities is unacceptable and the reputation of honest journalism is enhanced.

  • Comment number 78.

    Whaa wrote:
    "I would just like to point out to people from outside of the UK that many of the views expressed here are far from representative when it comes to the British people."

    Not true. The only reason that you think this is because you think that the people around you represent "the British People". No one can tell what 'the British People' think, or want, in the current system of representative democracy. And, no, before someone jumps down my throat, i am not against democracy, just the sham that is representative democracy.

    "Some of the comments here demonstrate a strong and experienced command of the English language but are equally lacking in the ethical sense."

    Positvism, i.e. believing there is a 'right' ethic, and that you are the arbiter of that ethical position.

    "I have no ill feeling towards the cuddly breed of them. However, the violent ones are a different matter. Just out of interest, could anyone give my an example of something worthwhile achieved by an anarchist group?"

    Quite why i should respond to this smug, judgemental kind of statement i don't know, but i suppose i'd better. There is no difference between what you see as 'cuddly' anarchists and violent anarchists except, making assumptions about who you are referring to, class.

    Things anarchism has achieved: moving the organisational model of the Left to a non-hierarchical model, sounding the death knell for the old stalinist apologists. Helping to destroy empiricism and positivism (although obviously it can't take all the credit). Showing that effective protest was possible when the rest of the Left had accepted defeat (Poll Tax riot, Seattle, Reclaim the Streets). Providing a 'big idea' or ideology that has never been proven wrong, and therefore providing hope that capitalist social relations are not 'natural' and can be defeated. Being the ideology behind the DIY ethic in punk (and Madchester) that paved the way for the blogging, home-made music, DDOS attacks on Visa, and countless other examples.

    I am sure you disagree with me - but you asked, so i replied. I won't be posting again on this thread so feel free to call people like me middle class, stupid, unethical, ignorant, misguided and childish, as others have on this thread when taking about those prepared to physically act, rather than sqwauk on the sidelines, shaking their fists at those that can't accept the 'contract with the state' that you have enslaved yourself and your children with.

  • Comment number 79.

    #78 - mafftucks

    Good stuff well argued but what does it have to do with anarchism? Anarchism is a philosophy. The people you are talking about are essentially involved in single issue politics. They will come out on the streets against globalisation, carbon emissions, student fees and, for all I know, popery. What they do not do is come out on the streets to promote an entirely different model of how a society should work. All credit to them if they have a point to make but please do not confuse them with ideologically driven reformists. Most of them will end up in comfy semi-detached suburbia. It is the way of things. We are required to grow old, not grow up and providing we somehow manage to drum up 30 years of NI contributions in the interim, everything will be fine and dandy.

    Then, when we have time on our hands, we can protest on blogs. It is a whole lot easier than taking to the streets, you won't get mugged by a thug in a uniform and it is a whole lot more comfortable. Let's here it for democracy.

  • Comment number 80.

    An Open Letter To Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

    Dear Mr Clegg,

    I am writing to complain about your abhorrent behaviour in Government. Like thousands of other voters, I used to think you were an honourable politician. Now we all know you are just a common liar. Through your actions, you have betrayed the youngest generation of people in this country. You have made sure that, in future, Higher Education will be the sole preserve of the wealthy. By your lies you have betrayed the electorate at large. You have also betrayed your own party which will suffer the consequences of your dishonesty for at least a generation.

    There is no possibility that anyone in any other profession could get away with your level of deceit. Any commercial organisation would rightly be prosecuted. The reputation of this great nation was built on the phrase “my word is my bond”. For you to continue in office would only serve to bring further humiliation to our once great nation throughout the rest of the world. For the sake of us all, please resign immediately. We the electorate wanted to see how the Liberal Party would perform in office. We now know you are not fit to govern. I will never vote for any Liberal candidate ever again in my lifetime and I am certain there are thousands of people who feel exactly the same as me. I can assure you this is one pledge that will be kept! You have conned us all once, you won’t con us again. No one will believe any Liberal Party member for a very long time. No one will believe you ever again. You have brought shame on yourself, your party and your country. For the sake of us all please go!

  • Comment number 81.

    I was watching live coverage on the BBC News channel. I saw nothing but perhaps a bit of low level aggression from either side until after the first mounted "charge".
    This has made me think that the establishment need a bit of trouble to show in the media to discredit the protesters.

    Prior to this, reporter Ben Brown had also been shown telling us that the marchers could not move forward at all (onto Westminster Bridge Road?) as the way was blocked. Almost immediately pictures showed, as they had to go somewhere, that they ended up pushing into Parliament Square (as they could not move towards the Embankment where there was meant to be a rally). It almost looked like a set-up.

  • Comment number 82.

    Clearly I have rattled a few cages! But I stand firm on my view that violent protest is almost always wrong. I think that if you look at human history in the round, you'll find that violence as a force for good is the exception rather than the rule. Progress is often misattributed to violent struggle, particularly when viewed through a nationalist lens and when people try to justify the history of a particular political movement.

    Being something of a believer in the scientific method, I am a natural skeptic. So when I hear a political "ism" I don't take it on lightly. An idea as radical as anarchism would require hard sell with hard facts. If you think the British people in considerable numbers are convinced by this ideology you really are deluding yourselves. Big ideas need to be proved before being disproved. I am amazed that someone might use a PIRA bomb as a positive example of anarchism!!!!!

    Adolf Hitler thought that violence was the positive force that drove human evolution. Gandhi or Hitler? Tough choice.

  • Comment number 83.

    #82
    You haven't rattled my cage at all, you just haven't understood the point
    The Ira used violence against the state and are now represented in parliament, so in their case violence made a positive change.
    When Hitler started WWII what did we use to repel his armies, rhetoric and reason, or bombs, ammunition and body's., again violence was used to positive effect.
    Emily Pankhurst and co used passive aggression to good effect
    One man's terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.
    Unfortunately you can write as many letters and attend as many rallies as you like but the government will always ignore you as they know you will eventually get bored and give up, but when people take to the streets and riot then they have to listen, remember the pole tax riots, again violence against the state used to positive effect.

  • Comment number 84.

    this from 22
    'this is not a vanguard of a revolution or even a rebellion it is nothing more than a reaction to losing free money. It is the petulant outburst of a childish generation spoiled by electronic gadgets and a sense of entitlement indulged by the policies of a previous government that was so incompetent it broke the economy'

    NO it is not a reaction to the loss of free money it is a natural reaction to a massive hike in the amount students have to pay for their univeraity education with no percievable increase in the standered of the education that is recieved. Furthermore is it possible that this rise in tuition fees will make uni on the whole more expensive as uni's try to recoup the loss of funds that the govermant has enforced. I myself have seen my uni accomidation rise by 10% if thats not a reason for frustration in dont know what is.
    Not only have i seen a drop in uni funding but a complete removal of any funding for the arts or humanitiees, how is it the govermants place to decide which subjects are more important thatn others. i think this might led to protest, don't you
    I would also like to point out to 22 that lectures protesting as well means that obviously its about free money, i was under the impression that they worked how foolish am i.

  • Comment number 85.

    Simon Critchley reponds to Zizek :

    " To be clear, I do not think that in the sphere of politics it makes sense to assert and hold to some principled and a priori conception of non-violence. The standard objection to anarchism always turns on this point: how can you justify your use of violence? Shouldn’t you be committed to non-violence? If you resort to violence, don’t you begin to resemble the enemy you are fighting against?



    Of course, non-violence is the aim of anarchist politics, but why should anarchists be the only political agents who have to decide beforehand that they will not be violent, when the specific circumstances of a political situation are still unknown? To this extent, the abstract question of violence versus non-violence risks reducing anarchism to what Jacob Blumenfeld has called the politics of the spectator position where non-violence becomes an abstract value, principle or categorical imperative "

    Full text here :

    http://www.nakedpunch.com/articles/39

  • Comment number 86.

    84. At 3:35pm on 11 Dec 2010, chewbacca wrote:
    NO it is not a reaction to the loss of free money it is a natural reaction to a massive hike in the amount students have to pay for their univeraity education with no percievable increase in the standered of the education that is recieved.
    ------------------------------------------------------
    Nobody seems to have asked whether graduate wages will rise at all to compensate (rofl).
    Too amny graduates and in fact graduate wages should fall.

  • Comment number 87.

    #83
    ** You haven't rattled my cage at all, you just haven't understood the point

    Fair enough. Still, when has social anarchism ever done anything worthwhile?

    ** The Ira used violence against the state and are now represented in parliament, so in their case violence made a positive change.

    As you might have guessed, I'm not in favour of the PIRA. However, I have always thought that the PIRA compaign damaged the republican cause. I would even go as far to say that I reckon that Ireland would have been united by now if it wasn't for the PIRA.

    ** When Hitler started WWII what did we use to repel his armies, rhetoric and reason, or bombs, ammunition and body's., again violence was used to positive effect.

    Can't see the positive. Hitler almost destroyed Germany and contributed to making Nazism a near universal taboo ideology.

    ** Emily Pankhurst and co used passive aggression to good effect

    There is a big difference between violent revolutionary anarchism and women going to prison for being a public nuisance.

    ** One man's terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

    An important philosophical result of moral relativism. If relativism is a vital attribute of anarchism, then there are no good or bad social anarchists, only anarchists. If anarchism does not contribute to the social good, they how can you argue for it?


    ** Unfortunately you can write as many letters and attend as many rallies as you like but the government will always ignore you as they know you will eventually get bored and give up, but when people take to the streets and riot then they have to listen, remember the pole tax riots, again violence against the state used to positive effect.

    The poll tax was a mess. The final incarnation of the dreaded tax turned out to satisfy nobody - the roller-coaster carried on running just to save face. The riots probably did have an effect but it is also likely that the tax would have gone anyway, especially given that politicians have a lust for votes.

    I know I sound picky and contrary but we clearly have a very different view of history. What about the philosophical basis for social anarchism?

    Take the following premises.

    1. moral relativism (no shared ethical code).
    2. ideology is pernicious.
    3. anarchism is worthwhile

    If these truely are properties of anarchism, then what is anarchism? Is it an ideology? If it is, then (2) needs to be modified. If anarchism is an ideology, then what is the point of it? To demonstrate the social good of an ideology, you need a system of ethics. If moral relativism is correct, then anarchism is not an ideology since an ideology requires a system of ethics. It cannot be worthwhile without a system of ethics.

    Perhaps this isn't anarchism. Anarchism has its very own special system of ethics but it isn't an ideology. Then what is the point of it?

    I'm back to where I started. I don't really understand anarchism.

    Or perhaps social anarchism isn't really violent, but like the Green party - a tribe without a chief. That would mean that calling all anarchists the same (believing in violent protest) is a slur on the Green party.

    If social anarchism really is such a good idea, then try and convince ordinary folk of its merits. No need for violence.

  • Comment number 88.

    "just when i thought i was out - they drag me back in again!"

    I'm joking, but i appreciate your questions whaa, and although Gd4pg and supersnapshot are doing a fine job of explaining, i can't resist chucking my twopenneth in.

    A few points of clarification, or at least what i think.

    I think the IRA originally self-described as a Marxist organisation, not an anarchist one, and many accounts seem to suggest they ended up like an apolitical mafia.

    "There is a big difference between violent revolutionary anarchism and women going to prison for being a public nuisance."

    The suffragettes had to do a lot more than be a public nuisance before they were taken seriously:

    "in 1903 a group called the Women's Social and Political Union was set up in
    Manchester. Its policy of "deeds not words" led to increasing militant
    methods of campaigning by women who felt fed up with the continuing
    failure of traditional methods. One of the groups icons, Emmeline
    Pankhurst, described this use of militancy as "moral violence" and the
    group condoned and organised hundreds of illegal activities ranging from
    slapping policemen to widespread arson attacks."
    http://www.16beavergroup.org/monday/archives/002984.php

    "An important philosophical result of moral relativism. If relativism is a vital attribute of anarchism, then there are no good or bad social anarchists, only anarchists. If anarchism does not contribute to the social good, they how can you argue for it?"

    So, as i understand it you are arguing for a moral positivism? In the same comment as you rightly criticise Nazism, in my eyes the ultimate example of moral positivism in action?

    "The riots probably did have an effect but it is also likely that the tax would have gone anyway, especially given that politicians have a lust for votes."

    Where is the evidence that this was 'likely'? The public majority did not support the war in iraq, 2 million marched against it - tony blair went on tv and said, effectively, 'only god can judge me'. I believe that if that demonstration had been as volatile and committed as Thursday's demo, it is 'likely' that we would never have gone to war on the scale we did.

    Ideologies are not pernicious any more than ideas are pernicious, or ice cream is pernicious. I believe that 'grand narratives' are a much sounder basis to politics than morality or ethical codes - they make no pretence to being neutral, they are just things that people agree on. Also, none of us have any choice but to either accept or reject ideologies - we do not live in a fictitious 'state of nature', we live in an ideology of capitalist relations. I don't want to live that way, so i try and change it to my own 'grand narrative'. Whether that is good or bad, how can anyone know - i think its good, and as i don't believe in God, only my friends and my family can judge me.

    "I'm back to where I started. I don't really understand anarchism."
    Here's a guide to one brand of anarchism which i think comes close to my idea of 'social anarchism', according to Alexander Berkman:
    http://libcom.org/library/what-is-anarchism-alexander-berkman

    Long, very long, but if you read it you will know more about what anarchism sees itself as, and what it sees its role as.

    "If social anarchism really is such a good idea, then try and convince ordinary folk of its merits. No need for violence."

    The ordinary folk i know, or live alongside, have a much more relative view of violence. They see it as what it is: a tool of last resort. If you are mugged violently, you don't want to give up your wedding ring, and there is no way to escape, you fight back. This is violence. If three people beat up your mate, you get six people and you give them a hiding. Not right, not desirable, but understandable to the ordinary folk i know.

    Political violence is an issue of strategy, not morality. (i do not see damage to property as violence, as i believe violence can only be done, or have an effect on, living things). Demonstrators decide if violence will further their cause (achieving the aims of the protest), the police decide the level of violence that they can respond with, without damaging their cause ( their continued domestic monopoly on the legitimate use of violence).

    Sorry to be a linkmeister, but here's another to a good bock that succinctly puts this point of view across:
    http://www.akpress.org/2005/items/hownonviolenceprotectsthestate

    Anyways, sorry to rattle on so much, but its a big subject!

  • Comment number 89.

    Middle class anecdote of the week:

    I was in the cheese shop in Muswell Hill (home of some of your favourite BBC stars and all-round posh place). The other customer was a teacher who was complaining that his 6th form had been disruptive recently due to EMA changes.

    If it's reached Muswell Hill it must be serious! Paul - is Peston safe?? Can you tell him to stockpile Montgomery Cheddar?

  • Comment number 90.

    "Later the police - who were themselves trapped between two lines of protesters, lost control of their own rear and only contained the breakthrough by batoning people to the floor, including women."

    It is no more right to hit a man with a baton than a woman as both are defenceless. Why is it seen as especially bad to be violent against women when in this context she is no more helpless than a man?

  • Comment number 91.

    "Later the police - lost control of their own rear" - Horrible thought!

  • Comment number 92.

    No offence Paul, but why are you reporting on this rather than, say, the fact that Germany - the ultimate guarantor of the euro - had its third failed government bond auction in a row on Wednesday? Why aren't you picking up on the stuff that David Malone, author of The Debt Generation, is posting on his blog (http://golemxiv-credo.blogspot.com/ ), with access to inside banking sources?

  • Comment number 93.

    #88

    Thank you for your links. I must confess that I haven't read them but I will with an open mind. It will be interesting to see how it affects my views of anarchism.

    Hope you don't mind me responding to a few of your points:

    ** The suffragettes had to do a lot more than be a public nuisance before they were taken seriously:

    My view of the womens suffrage movement is that once it got going it was popular and widespread, largely without the desire to actually hurt anyone. Although you might think that I have an extremist view when it comes to anti-violence, I genuinely believe that the more extreme stuff damaged their cause. All publicity is not good publicity.

    ** So, as i understand it you are arguing for a moral positivism? In the same comment as you rightly criticise Nazism, in my eyes the ultimate example of moral positivism in action?

    Sorry to nitpick but surely anyone who advocates an "idea", including anarchism, is guilty of moral positivism.

    ** I believe that 'grand narratives' are a much sounder basis to politics than morality or ethical codes - they make no pretence to being neutral, they are just things that people agree on

    Kind of agree but in the real world all 'grand narratives' have an ethical dimension.

    ** Political violence is an issue of strategy, not morality.

    Why would anyone want to engage in violence in support of political movement devoid of morality? While I read your links, I thought I'd give you something to think about:

    If you know anything of the "naive" in naive set theory, you will be aware of Russell's paradox. If anarchism says that "all ethical code systems are equally valid", then surely you are in grave danger of inconsistency? The grand design of naive set theory looks suspiciously like anarchism. Or perhaps we should construct a Zermelo–Fraenkel anarchism theory. Wouldn't that be against the very spirit of anarchism?

    If anarchism has little to no philosophical meaning and there is no ethical framework, then how can you justify violence in the name of it?

    Maybe it is time to forget the "isms" when it comes to politics and just use common sense, learning the lessons of history and graduating toward a more satisfying political system - in a peaceful fashion, of course.

    I'm not saying violence is never justified. I am saying not here, not now.

  • Comment number 94.

    'Politically, there is an almost total disconnect with the established parties: they had not bothered to send their representatives there - there were a few NUS national officials but no kind of Labour student presence that I could see.'

    What does that mean?
    The political parties have no interest in ordinary people, their kids? What was all that we were hearing during the election? Not one politician gave two hoots about me, said one single word that made me think they even grasped people like me existed - I don't have any kids. Yet they seemed to think that if they talked endlessly about children, about families, then their job would be done!

    It's like America, the land where politicians talk about the middle class, that ever diminishing group of people, occassionally talk about the 'working man' to demonstrate they are vaguely aware of the road digger, the 'bus boy' in the bar in Georgetown. Then they go off and demand tax cuts for the mega wealthy, bail-outs for Harley Davidson, Caterpillar, the banks (see Senator Bernie Sanders - along at Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/a-real-jaw-dropper-at-the_b_791091.html?ir=Business%29, and a little sideline in elementary school privatisation.

    Once the votes have been cast and the product has been sold the marketing campaign literature goes in the bin, crumpled and as meaningless as it always was. I feel quite relieved. No one was selling anything I wanted for my 'personal circumstances', or for the bigger issues so at least I don't feel as though I've been sold a lemon by a fast-tongued salesman who conned me!

    It would be interesting to see a Venn Diagram of the various voter groups and compare that with the Venn Diagram of the various groups, who the government intend to please, and who the government intend to offer up as sacrificial lambs as the offering.

  • Comment number 95.

    18. At 08:16am on 10 Dec 2010, SeanBroseley wrote:
    Treating this debt with yet more personal debt is similar to an economic version of the homeopathic Hahnemann's "Law of similars" - "let like be cured by like". The homoepaths give you less of the poison, while the homeopathic economists/politicians prescribe you massively more debt to treat debt.

    We have people whining on about those who borrowed too much for things like homes, holidays, clothes, a couch, whatever and causing the crisis who then come up with the brainwave of telling the next generation that they must take on tens of thousands of pounds of debt before they even find a job! Oh, and by the way, while your grandad and your dad got apprenticeships at 15 or 16 paid for by their bosses, you will get none of those and won't be working until you are 21 if you are lucky enough, and might be so lucky you can have a real job that pays a wage rather than one of those slavery jobs where you earn nothing at all as an intern! It's all totally nuts!

  • Comment number 96.

    Excellent commentary again Paul, many thanks. I'm about half way through Meltdown and it's a fantastic book.
    As for the protests, I support them 100%. I've never been on protest myself but could actually see me doing so one day the way things are going. The violence is wrong and needs to stop. The protestors need to do a number of things now and they will gain far more than current tactics will ever do.
    Firstly, the focus needs to shift from being against the Police to being against the ConDem Govt. The Police are, as ever, in a no-win situation whatever they do and they really aren't the issue here although my sense is that their tactics are ultimately unsustainable and almost certainly self defeating. The Police will do their job but the problems arise because of Govt policies and I think the Tories are just hiding behind the LibDems and the Police. Teresa May (from what I’ve seen of her so far, her name is quickly becoming Teresa May-Has-Failed) is getting off very lightly...she is apparently the Home Secretary and yet has nothing to say about what's happening on the streets of Britain. Personally I think the media are far too soft on her and probably because they know she is way out of her depth. Here, where it comes to matters of 'responsibility' there is a clear difference between delegation and abdication. If she can't get a grip and set some parameters for future protests, then why are we paying her wages? Since the election they seem to have forgotten that THEY SERVE US, not the other way around. Mind you, given all the bluff and bluster around and following the election, the ConDems are beginning to show where their true interests “lie” – serving themselves and not us!

    Secondly, the protests need to shift their focus and their form. Politicians of all persuasions have a tactic of saying that protests must be peaceful and yet they know peaceful protests hardly ever achieve anything regardless of their scale. Peaceful protests are also systematically belittled, marginalized and easily and intentionally ignored by those same politicians and as we've seen with Cameron, Clegg and others, the politicians will simply shift their agenda and travel so they don't get confronted by protesters because it's bad for their PR. Contrast this with Cameron and Clegg a few months ago when they were falling over themselves to get out in public. Cameron certainly can't handle protest or direct argument as he clearly thinks it is beneath him and he can't rely on his highly scripted and practiced 'speeches', Clegg would also fail as he is clearly now shifted to his peeved state where real scrutiny is showing up flaws - personal, intellectual and especially in integrity and policy terms. So the protests need to diversify and take on new and imaginative forms which don't just butt-up against solely against the Police.
    The protests need to focus on the Govt and the politicians directly. Caricature them, mock them and research their previous (and particularly pre-election) sound bites and statements in order to confront them time and time again. Expose their lies and weasel words and draw a clear distinction with the alternatives which are possible. In essence, show that when Cameron and Clegg claimed they’d usher in a new type of politics, it is no longer acceptable that our electoral system is misused by politicians to make Parliament a forum for a new set of liars, peddling a new set of lies. Hold them to account and do it relentlessly on their websites, their phone lines, their surgeries etc etc until they are grid-locked on the subject. While this may sound a bit low key as a start point, it is actually very powerful for a number of reasons, particularly when combined with the protests. Firstly politicians like Cameron and Clegg are driven by PR and public perception (e.g. ratings), and it is very much their Achilles Heel…it matters to them immensely provided they can control it (hence Cameron’s desire to have a personal photographer at any cost). Secondly, the sheer volume, variety, humour and ingenuity shown in the form of student banners, slogans and multi media clips is far, far greater than anything the ConDems or their / our money can muster. Viral ads and social networking are VERY big assets in the students toolbox and they are outside the mainstream media so Murdoch can only watch while Cameron and the other pet politicians are ridiculed. While Cameron also goes out of his way to appear statesmanlike, it’s all too apparent that he knows it’s just not working and his condom head caricature is beginning to stick. He is clearly very lightweight on a wide range of issues and distrusted even in his own party, so to have him become a caricature and figure of fun would be very damaging politically. Cameron and Clegg also take themselves very seriously so to be treated with contempt in that part of the demographic upon which they need to rely is going to destroy their powerbase. In other words, while Cameron and Clegg were the brands that hey used to gain votes, those brands can be made highly toxic and a political liability.
    As I say, this is only a start, but mobilizing these capabilities ability in combination with what the protesters have already done proactively, will pay dividends. The protesters have certainly seized the agenda and can't now be ignored, but the future plans should certainly not be announced in advance or the politicians will use everything they can to head them off. So when, for example, the media ask Student leaders what will happen next, they should be politely told to wait and see. Set the agenda and stay on it!!!! Don’t let the politicians try to re-set the agenda or buy time with promises of reviews, and consultations. They are supposed to serve us, not the other way around (hence their anti public sector narrative prior to the budget cuts) and it certainly doesn’t just mean pretending to listening for 4 weeks prior to election day and then doing deals we don’t get to learn about and conducted behind closed doors. If they’ve forgotten that after just 6 months, they should resign and take up one of those millions of jobs which will apparently emerge from nowhere. Remember that 100,000 signatures petition thing? Use with that, do it, every week, same issue and see if Dave thinks it’s still a good idea when he continually gets taunted by it at PMQ's and media interviews yet still fails to show democracy in action. Petition them on key student debt related issues and perhaps even a petition against cuts in Police numbers! Show the argument is not with the police by shifting the focus away from the Police and onto the Politicians who conjured up this shambles. No one, least of all the politicians who clearly think they are superior, should be allowed to let others be in the firing line for their shoddy, self serving back room deals.
    Thirdly, don't forget to directly link the protests to the financial institutions which crashed the global and UK economy. When Dave, Nick or Gideon say it's all Labours fault, ask them exactly what it was that Labout did which trashed the Irish or Greek economy. And then why didn't the Irish or Greek govts cry foul at the time if a UK political party was interfering in another sovereign state? What exactly was it that Labour did which caused the sub-prime problem in Black Bottom, Detroit? Be clinical and get them to publish the official records to show exactly when they found out about the state of the books (‘mountain of debt’) so that we the taxpayers can contrast what they were promising in order to gain votes with what they now claim – those books are after all OUR PROPERTY!!. While Labour certainly has questions to answer, they are now predominantly retrospective ones at least until we get another general election. For now, the issues are for the present day and the Govt of the day – they are the ones currently being paid by the public so they MUST carry responsibility for TODAY. So today, while EMA is coming out of student pockets, bonuses are still going into banstkers pockets today - bonuses only possible because tax payers money kept their business (?) from bankruptcy. While debt is going onto students, it will be banksters who will engineer maximum profit from that debt dependency. So the protesters need to start asking many questions of the politicians about the whole issue of the debt they wish to impose. Why is it for instance that the Govt have not missed an opportunity to deride Labour for "saddling the nation with debt", and yet the debt this Govt wish to directly impose is somehow fundamentally different. Has General Melchet taken over at the Ministry of Logic? "Their spies bad, our spies good”. “Their debt bad, our debt good”. As for the Vince Cable statement that assurances have been given that student debt won't count for credit reference purposes, what a blatant lie he is now knowingly peddling. Yet another undertaking he knows he has no way seeing fulfilled. Any form of words from financial institutions (or politicians) are not worth the paper they're written on. I for one am enjoying the continual erosion of Cable's integrity and standing, and while I'm no fan of Brown, given to the lies that Cable is now peddling, I hope Brown invokes the memory of the Iron Chancellor v Mr Bean comment to publicly floor Cable in the Commons. I'd have (only slightly) less contempt for the whole fees policy if student fees were in the form of Govt bonds which are not tradable in the banksters market place i.e. in a way which keeps them completely away from the banksters and it is effectively illegal for banksters to trade in them. I'm sure the big brains in the treasury can engineer a scheme that achieves that if they were directed to, but I somehow think Gideon would gasp at the suggestion because he wants to hand his banking buddies another lucrative opportunity at the expense of individuals and the taxpayer.

    As for the general theme of police tactics, I think they need to have a serious rethink. It is the Police who are getting the flak for horses charging at school children and for children being kettled. The anger and irritation should be aimed not at the police but at the Govt. The risk is that kettling will be seen as being indiscriminate and as a form of collective punishment rather than a means by which violent trouble makers are contained, isolated from the peaceful protesters and subsequently detained. In other words, kettling needs to retained as a tactic, but its use should be far better targeted and the threshold much higher lest the Police become seen as a political tool which is what Cameron certainly favours but which the public do not . The anger and irritation should therefore be aimed at the politicians not at the Police. Why? Because the Politicians are predominantly spineless and consumed by poll ratings and will buckle long, long before the Police will be overwhelmed on the ground or stopped from protecting other ordinary people and property. The Police are not the issue, they are the same today as they were before the election and time and energy spent focusing on them is wasted and to the detriment of the real issue. The narrative needs to shift to one where within 6 months of a Tory Britain, horse charges and violence is common place on Britain’s streets because of ConDem policies. "Broken Britain, it is now!" Shift the focus to a discussion where, because of their policies, politicians must engage on the issue route protests can take so that they don’t lead to a dead end destination where the ‘trapped rat syndrome’ will inevitably result, and the politicians can’t abdicate themselves of any responsibility. Shift the focus to one where Teresa May-Has-failed will be called to account if she doesn’t take action now on signalling to the police that a death or deaths resulting from protests over ConDem policies will be unacceptable. Shift the focus to one where Teresa May-Has-Failed starts earning the considerable sums she is paid by making decisions, where she is forced to set the tone on behalf of the Govt for future protests over ConDem policies. The Govts current tactic, at least in part, is to let the focus stay on the violence (not the protests or the policies), and hope that protests will subside and be marginalized as the acts of a violent minority. Don’t let Teresa may-Has-Failed hide behind the police spokesperson. Demand that she engages on the issue and get that shown on the media – no more abdication!!
    While Cameron wants to spout on about compassionate conservatism, he knows the reality of what he wants to implement is very different. His party and supporters are being conned because he just represents a facade - not of compassion or even conservatism, but simply one of sound bites and some ill conceived "Big Society brand" which has little traction and for which the British public seem to have little interest Big Society = divide and rule. Ask why for instance the early policies in the ConDem agenda are focussed on cutting money from education and sticking it in the pockets of bankers. How on Earth is privatizing education and making it big business for Dave and Gideon’s buddies 'compassionate'? Haven’t we learnt enough from the utilities and transport privatisation shambles to say enough is enough. Only big business benefits from privatisation. We the taxpayers don’t see big improvements and nor are we protected from the risks – we still end up picking up the bills, but without the benefits. Big Society seems to simply mean Big Business for Daves’ buddies and it is an insult to the many millions of people who have done voluntary work for years with Dave now seeking to claim he invented the idea.
    Kettle or disrupt the local MP's or their aides and the whole apparatus upon which they and Govt thrive - the grey suited advisors, the researchers, the lobbyists, the focus groups, the think tanks. Aim to render them ineffective and tied-up on only things to do with the protests and the policies which caused them. Set their agenda for them, with a long term strategy and tactics which can be replicated and scaled accordingly. Kettle Boris in his Gherkin. Kettle the Banksters in, or en-route to, their ivory towers. When the Banksters start to squeal and you start to hit them in the pocket, Gideon will kick Dave and Dave will kick Teresa May-Has-Failed and they will collectively start to buckle. But it absolutely must be peaceful – disruptive, Yes. Inconvenient, definitely. Headline grabbing, Yes preferably. If Cameron wants a big society, let him have it but in a form which suits us not him and let it become a mill stone around his neck. You managed to get their attention, but now you need to start dismantling their hastily cobbled together ‘policy’ and expose it for the con it is.

    Keep the posts coming Paul. Always better than the others by a mile!!

  • Comment number 97.

    "Thirdly, don't forget to directly link the protests to the financial institutions which crashed the global and UK economy. When Dave, Nick or Gideon say it's all Labours fault, ask them exactly what it was that Labour did which trashed the Irish or Greek economy."

    All three economies were badly managed by home-grown morons. A wing and a prayer plus a decade of backslapping and house swapping from the populous, then the hangover.

    By the same token, why didn't the global slowdown sink Germany or China? Yes it did slow them down but many countries are emerging from this much stronger than the UK which has so far only kicked the can of worms down the road.

    I do think your comment about giving students a "different kind of debt" is spot on. Debt is debt and this offer is not a good solution. Better to reduce the number of uni entrants to those who truly excel, from all backgrounds, then subsidize them. Let the rest of us joe averages get an average job, which we would anyhow after our mickey mouse degree only without a load of debt.

  • Comment number 98.

    #82 and others

    Interesting how the debate here has morphed into the 'acceptability' of the use of violence or otherwise.

    Firstly there needs to be a distinction here between 'violence' (as many have painted the demonstrations) or simply 'direct action'.

    Violence is a subjective term traditionally used for physical contact to do harm to an individual or a group of individuals which will lead to suffering.

    What if we include 'economic contact to do harm to an individual or group of individuals which will lead to suffering' within the word 'violence'?

    The quantum of human suffering caused by the protests last week are miniscule compared to the quantum of human suffering caused by the actions of global media players, powerful financial institutions, certain governments and big busines.

    What if you change the perception to SEE the actions past and present of those institutions as being a form of violence as oppose to well ...what exactly? If it is not a modern manifestation of the fundamental meaning of 'violence' then what is it?

    To link back to Paul's previous post requesting people to post their 'top 50 books' , I was pleased to see John Pirsig's work (among others) appeared a few times.

    Reading the posts above reminded me of something he said along the lines of (this is just the jist of it from memory not a direct quotation).

    '' The mistake of the intellectual was to believe that rehabilitation was possible by the use of dialogue and other such attempts to 'reason' with the individual. What they did not realise is that biological drivers do not respond to intellectual engagement. Some people are biologically hard wired to behave in a socially degenerative way to satisfy thier over zealous survival (greed) or reproductive (sexual) hard wired instinct , the only way to control that is to engage with thier biology not thier minds''

    I think I will stop it there, to carry on gets very philosophical and very 'heavy' very quickly and drags in religion, philosophy, the existence of 'free will' or otherwise and mans deepest fears. Confronting ones own demons is never an easy thing, this whole global dynamic is taking the dangerous shape it is because collectively we are not facing those demons.

    I do not support individual acts of premeditated violence from anyone, but I do support what the students are collectively doing and how they are doing it (on the premise of tuition fees being ametaphor for our youth's future rather than a direct single issue protest.

    Good luck with it.

  • Comment number 99.

    #96 - wise words, well spoken, and the fact they come from, I assume, a senior police officer makes them all the more welcome. I agree with you on many things, but the other things are maybe more important.

    Totally agree, puncture the political balloon. Quality stencils, viral adverts - someone get on it, please, i'd love to see them. But it won't be me making them, or most people. I won't be signing any petitions, or praying for change either. Your definition of what we should do is an essential part of forcing a government to change direction, but it is only part of it.

    I agree with you, that the coalition is using the police in a political manner, to keep their own involvement at arms length. But that is the essence of the role of the police in any 'public order' situation. And its not as if the police don't regularly dabble in politics themselves. Its hard to explain the 'experimental policing' of the climate camps in any other way than political, unless it arose from genuine malice or brutal incompetence.

    The student demos (and we both know they are normal students and young kids - the Wombles folded 5 years ago) have shown that any movement that puts 20,000 motivated protesters on the streets can take the city, with the current level of police response. Therefore the question will soon be asked, if this happens again: why don't the police up their response to regain control?

    There is a whole industry of 'less lethal' technology out there, and i'm sure there are plenty of lobbyists with agendas circling the decision makers in the police. Tear gas, tasers, bean bags, microwaves, sonic cannons: there's enough there to make sure that the police would win in the end of anything short of civil war or general strike.

    The question of "could" is easily answered: yes. The police could use these responses within the current law. Even if people died, unarmed, innocent people, the police would still have committed no crime. The more important question is "would".

    Would the police, if given those weapons, use them against teenagers and children? I think, if ordered, they would. I would like to think that I was wrong, but i just haven't seen the evidence.

    Until i could be convinced of that fact, i am not prepared to accept the police's domestic monopoly on force, as i believe it would be dangerous for this country to do so. Therefore i support the demonstrators in what they are trying to achieve and how they are trying to achieve it.

  • Comment number 100.

    #97 - Ben

    You are right. Education is a wonderful thing providing it a) qualifies you to do something useful or, b) gives you the necessary tools to spend the rest of your life in academia 8 and if you can afford that, you probably are not worried about student fees anyway).

    What we are doing at the moments is throwing certificates around like confetti (which may be useful if the thought that the guy driving the bus has a first class honours in sociology makes you feel more secure).

    We are devaluing further education and a cynic might be tempted to wonder whether it is simply to defer by a few years the inevitable day when they join the dole queue. Still I suppose it makes the figures look better.

 

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