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Cameron in Seoul on the London student protests

Nick Robinson | 08:39 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

"I was worried for the safety of the people in the building because I know people who work in there - not just in the Conservative Party but in other offices as well," the prime minister told me this morning.

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Last night, on arriving at his hotel in the South Korean capital Seoul, David Cameron and his aides watched live coverage on BBC World News of a peaceful student protest turning into a violent assault on his party's HQ. Wry amusement that they had missed the protests soon turned into alarm when they heard that protesters had not just smashed through police lines but had also made it up several storeys to within feet of the staff working there. They were only turned back by a quick-thinking security guard who pretended that they'd got the wrong floor.

The prime minister told me:

"What I felt when I saw those pictures was: Of course people have a right to protest peacefully, but I saw people who were bent on violence and on destroying property and that is completely unacceptable. We need to make sure that behaviour does not go unpunished."

He praised the "extremely brave" police officers manning what he called "the thin blue line" which could not prevent protesters breaking through and insisted that it must not happen again.

"They were very brave, those police officers; but as the police themselves have said, there weren't enough of them and the police response needs to reflect that. So I'm very glad that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said what he's said and I think we need to learn the lessons very rapidly."

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I put it to the PM that we could be seeing a re-run of the Thatcher years. He denied that, claiming that the fact that this government is a coalition ensures that this is not a case of back to the future.

On this, the morning after the riot before, David Cameron has had to turn his attention elsewhere. He has already marked Remembrance Day with veterans of the Korean War, met FIFA's vice-president to sell England's World Cup bid and now has the small matter of the G20 summit of world leaders to attend to.

On his mind, no doubt, is the question: "Is this what it will be like from now on?"

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    "I put it to the PM that we could be seeing a re-run of the Thatcher years."

    Now let me think.... just why, of all the things you, an educated man, a Political editor for an internationally renowed state broadcaster could have said to him, just why did you choose that particular question?

    You know the answer already, dont you Nick? I'm just a little surprised that you didnt try to make it even more obvious.

  • Comment number 2.

    David Cameron
    I am glad you remember what it is like to be a student. Please don't stop the right to peaceful protest because of rent-a-mob. Peaceful protest is an important part of our tradition and it would be of real loss to see it go. You have the technology to weed out the violent perpetrators, thus you need not punish all others by future restrictions of peaceful protests.
    I would not vote for you because you are a conservative and I don't see that conservatives serve the ordinary people. However, I would have more respect for you and might listen to you if you had more respect for the untenable situation of the poor who wish to be educated.

  • Comment number 3.

    The students have a good cause. Very important issue, tuition fees.

  • Comment number 4.

    'On his mind, no doubt, is the question: "Is this what it will be like from now on?"'

    In the world of media, much would be improved if the concentration was more on what IS said and IS done, as opposed to remarkable insights into what IS (or might not be) in a person's mind. That's how news strays into views. And becomes devalued to the point of uselessness.

    IMHO.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    It is suprising how much the current situation does remind me of the 'Thatcher years'. As someone who lived through it as a conservative party supporter there is a certain resonance.

    So a few students went on the rampage in London. So what. It is hardly going to change anything.

    I was suprised how little things have changed since I was a student in the '70s. Even some of the students interviewed on the T.V. reminded me so much of the 'Socialist Worker' protesters of the '80s and the 'Winter of Discontent'.

    Will we have camps outisde Greenham Common next?

  • Comment number 9.

    A coalition in which the Liberals seem to be compromised on all their values and all their promises. I can't see that preventing a return to the conflict of the 80's, I just see it ending the Liberal Party as a credible option.

    In any protest of this scale there is likely to be an element who get carried away and perhaps an element who plan this activity. I can't believe the Police hadn't seen this coming and if they didn't then they are deeply naive. Tory policies are creating a rump of anger and opposition as they did in the 80's and that will result in expressions of that opposition.

    It is sad that this country reels back and forth between poles of political theory neither of which have actually served us well. Sad that the people we vote in still serve ideology and don't have the imagination or leadership to actually move us forward rather than side to side on the same old line.

  • Comment number 10.

    sensiblegrannie

    Britain has never had the right to 'violent' protest. These vandals and hooligans only serve to undermine the cause that the other tens of thousands of students marched peacefully to support.

    There's been no talk of any curtailing of the right to peaceful protest - merely debate about whether the police should have anticipated greater levels of violence during protests, the obvious answer being 'yes'.

    We don't have a Labour government any more. This means that protests will no longer be 400,000-person cakewalks like those led by the Countryside Alliance. The police have gotten used to those opposing government policy being generally benign and proper about it - benign no more.

    Now we have a Conservative government, which means all the crazies will come out in force at every opportunity to break things, set fire to things, and beat up police officers - because that's how the nuts end of the Far Left protests. To them it's not about policy, it's about principle - they are people who, to quote my own, late, sensible granny, "Would cut off their nose to spite their face".

    Rest assured, this will not lead to the removal of right to peaceful protest. It will not lead to the reading of the Riot Act at Trafalgar Square. It will just mean more police officers on the streets during protests, to keep violent criminals away from innocent bystanders.

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    Nick

    What is the point of this particular blog entry?

    Is it so that we can all get excited over the riot?

    Is it so we can all get excited over the Prime Minister's response to the riot?

    Or is it so that we can all excite ourselves over what happened in wicked Granny Thatcher's time?

    Yesterday a small breakaway group from a peaceful demonstration which had a reasoned argument smashed up an office block on Millbank because the Conservative Party have an office there. In so doing they wrecked the entire point of the main demonstration. Not a good day for anyone. But so what? Bad things happen all the time; they just don't get into the media.

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't condone the violence, however I am not surprised that tempers flared at a time when our PM is telling Chinese students that fee rises for English students is a good thing as it means foreign students will have to pay less. Of the two I don't think it takes a single GCSE to work out that British students should be encouraged as they are more likely to stay and contribute to the growth of this country as it is their home.

  • Comment number 14.

    Chinese officials are smiling behind their hands as pictures of student protest beam into Bejing and Shanghai.The communist leader has the mandate of heaven,Poor Mr.Cameron only has the mandate of Mr.Clegg,for what its worth.

    The purpose of the student protest has ostensibly been deflected by the minority who caused damage,provoked injury and occupied Tory HQ.But the consistency of press and TV treatment of this event reminds us that the media focus on negativism and violence is consistent across the generations.The public lose sympathy and the purpose is forgotten.

    In 1968 Jim Halloran and his Media group made a study of the mass demonstration in London against the Vietnam war. They called it "Bad news" The demonstration was at least a 100.000 strong,it converged on the US embassy in Grosvener Square. A few hundred demonstrators broke away,some windows were broken,sticks were thrown and there were scuffles.

    The media team had access to all the main TV studios,they recorded minute by minute response by the studio teams,by reporters on the ground and recorded the pictures going out.They scrutinized newspapers before and after the event.

    There was a consistent focus, not on the message of the demonstration but the small breakaway minority.Where the main demonstration was portrayed it was always the surge of banners and protesters against the police pickets around the embassy.The press,who that morning had presented the event as a "revolution", then amplified the negative coverage next day by emphasizing violence and disaster.A Labour home secretary added his voice to the stereotypes flowing from the media.

    "Bad news." Mr.Cameron from faraway Seoul has added his voice to this timeless jeremiad.In our media savvy age, bad news easily becomes bad faith when the public exercise of democrativc accountability is subverted by politicians and the mainstream media.Although they make an exception for the countryside alliance.

  • Comment number 15.

    A bit stupid of the few to derail focus from what had been a very successful protest by becoming destructive.

    Frankly I think we pay far too much (I was lucky enough to get in the last year before they were tripled last time) and that the state should pay a lot lot more when it comes to education of all types, but in fairness to the government, I don't see any of the parties winning many votes that way. I wish they would cut other areas instead of people paying a lot more, but it looks like they will pay a lot more whoever is in charge, and the change in the level of when people pay back is a good idea at least.

    It won't stop the LD being slaughtered though, which is a shame as despite a couple of u-turns (willing ones, not just allowing some Tory ideas through as part of inevitable coalition compromises which I would not blame anyone for) I think they provide a needed alternative.

    We'll probably see a few more protests about the cuts, but it'll come to nothing I think, people are resigned to losing a lot really. Unless the LD revolt sfter having their vote collapse in Woolas's seat (they might think they are prepared to weather a few bad years on the basis of believing they will reap rewards when things pick up, but seeing hard evidence of loss of support that early might break a lot of them) and the whoe government starts to fall, which I do not think would be good for anyone just now.

  • Comment number 16.

    Have just read re-read Mr.Robinson`s text.He sure keeps to the script adumbrated above.Negativism,violence and disaster.As Mark Antony said of Caeser`s assasins,"The choice and finest spirits of our age."

  • Comment number 17.

    "We don't have a Labour government any more. This means that protests will no longer be 400,000-person cakewalks like those led by the Countryside Alliance. The police have gotten used to those opposing government policy being generally benign and proper about it - benign no more.

    Now we have a Conservative government, which means all the crazies will come out in force at every opportunity to break things, set fire to things, and beat up police officers - because that's how the nuts end of the Far Left protests. To them it's not about policy, it's about principle - they are people who, to quote my own, late, sensible granny, "Would cut off their nose to spite their face"."


    Do you need reminding of the peaceful march of the left through the streets of London prior to the Iraq invasion? Yet another example of a peaceful protest that ultimately achieved nothing because of the arrogance of our politicians. When things do start to get ugly (for example the protests against the poll tax) the politicians are forced to address the issues.



  • Comment number 18.

    It is all about money - it is the economy stupid!

    The only way to avoid mayhem is to do as David Cameron suggested and limit bosses pay to twenty times their lowest paid employee and to do so through the tax system.

    We have to make significant strides in reducing inequality of outcome. Then and only then will the Nation pull together.

    I have suggested that we need a National Maximum Income set at 20 times the National Minimum Wage, just as David Cameron suggested - implemented via the tax system. (Oddly DC already earns about 20 times the National Minim Wage.)

  • Comment number 19.


    Blanket coverage of this event.

    Almost ten years ago my son attended a march in London about tuition fees, along with many others. Not so much as a mention by the BBC or other media, apart from The Daily Mirror.

    Surely not a political decision?


  • Comment number 20.

    A coalition in which the Liberals seem to be compromised on all their values and all their promises. I can't see that preventing a return to the conflict of the 80's, I just see it ending the Liberal Party as a credible option.
    ----------
    Unfortunately, it just might, mostly because the genuine about faces (that is, they now would never do what they said they would do as they have changed their minds) have meant every compromise is regarded as one, when for most they are mor elike - we would prefer to do what we said, but we didn't win the election so we have to do x instead in order to get y, which is better than getting nothing.
    -------
    In any protest of this scale there is likely to be an element who get carried away and perhaps an element who plan this activity. I can't believe the Police hadn't seen this coming and if they didn't then they are deeply naive.
    -------
    Maybe so, but placing blame, or overly critisizing, them for not foreseeing things turning violent seems unfair. Regardless of whether they should have expected it, the protestors are wholly to blame for their own actions. They should seen the media sensationalising things coming as well. I am sure the NUS president did (protest and media focus) as they often seem to go on to become MPs and are good at that type of thing.

  • Comment number 21.

    Some other Countries pay a lot more for tuition fees than the English do. Education at this level, is not a right it is a privilege. Unless people want to see Universities decline and not be able to compete with the rest of World, the money has to be found. This is a much better system and could in time do away with the less able who are wasting their time, and should not be there in the first place. The time wasters, and useless degrees being churned out that are of no use and merely secure unemployment for those taking them. If someone wants a degree badly enough they will still go on to take one, no matter what the challenges are.

    It would be wise for the students to remember it was the Labour Party who put them in this position in the first place, by poor education policy and economic mismanagement of the economy. I blame Labour, in particular, Harriet Harman, for stirring this up, when they know very well, they too would have had to take pretty much the same action.

    The bills racked up for the damage should be given directly to the Universities to pay from their budgets. That would soon put an end to this nonsense. Irresponsbile lecturers who joined this march should hang their heads in shame, knowing full well the need for these policies. They have shown they have a political agenda not an education one.

    The other person to blame is Clegg, how this lazy, inept person became leader of any party is beyond me. Lazy politics before the election, promising the earth to anyone so they would vote Lib/Dem, is not good enough. I wish he could be booted out of the Coalition along with the equally inept Vince Cable.

    The days of a free ride in the UK are over for everyone, I just wonder when the British will get this through their heads.

  • Comment number 22.

    The real and bulk effect of the cuts have yet to hit the fan. Thousands of public sector redundancies are being planned or processed and the cuts to benefits are mainly not immediate. I expect the government to have face more civil unrest as time goes on. Whether they have to deal with a winter of discontent remains to be seen. Their position will worsen if as trailed by Ireland the coalition cuts dont work.

  • Comment number 23.

    The 37 year old student on Newsnight last night did not help the student's cause. Her motives must be questionable - she came across more as a political agitator.

    I have grave misgivings about raising the cap to £9000 but anarchy is not the solution - the students had a perfect right to hold a peaceful protest but throwing fire extinguishers off the roof and collateral damage are not acceptable. Where were the protests when the fees were first introduced?

  • Comment number 24.

    3. At 09:14am on 11 Nov 2010, sagamix wrote:
    The students have a good cause. Very important issue, tuition fees.
    =========================================================================
    Many a good cause has been lost due to undisciplined action!

    No matter what the cause you can not and should not condone acts of mindless violence.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Do you need reminding of the peaceful march of the left through the streets of London prior to the Iraq invasion?"

    Not at all! Thankyou for another example of a large-scale, peaceful protest (lacking in assaults, arson and vandalism - just a handful of arrests for public order offences) under a Labour government, though! Glad for the reinforcement.

  • Comment number 26.

    This government was not elected with a clear mandate, it was cobbled together behind closed doors. If these policies had been in the parties manifesto the Labour party would have swept to power with a thumping great majority.
    The problem here is that the coalition keeps saying that "we are not for turning", and that they are very happy to be unpopular to feed us the medicine that they know we need as a nation. They have no intention of listening to the majority of the public, a public who did not vote for these cuts to happen in this way. If the government turn up with a whole raft of policies supposedly cobbled together in 5 days to make up the coalition agreement, none of which only a few days before were in ANY manifesto you must expect the public to be hostile and to feel that they have been betrayed. This is High Politics and worth of a Junta in Burma, we talk about democracy in China..........we need to get back to democracy here..........

  • Comment number 27.

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

  • Comment number 28.

    Reckon Nick Clegg has dropped the ball on this issue and it'll dog him for the rest of his political days.

    From a personal perspective I've tired of the status quo where politicians blatantly lie to get elected and then don't deliver on their promises. It makes the voting process absolutely pointless. Why bother having live debates and having voters go through party policies in the lead-up to elections when there is no intention of actually adhering to the pledges? It's a joke. Why not just pull straws?

    Clegg has single-handedly rubbed hundreds of thousands of young people up the wrong way and if he thinks they'll forget he's sorely mistaken.
    This will dog him for the rest of his career as every promise he makes in future will be countered with "that's what you said about tuition fees".
    And the worst part for Clegg is that these young people he's upsetting come from all walks of life and will be voting for a very long time to come.
    I'm young but finished uni some 6 years ago and voted for Clegg. Never again.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm a tax payer who enjoyed University. I didn't pay fees and I had a grant. I am happy to contribute more so my children and grandchildren can enjoy and gain from University and higher education. Why does the government assume that those (taxpayers) that benefited from University don't want to give back so that others can enjoy the same? The majority of MP's must have gained from their University Education which they may not have had to pay for?

  • Comment number 30.

    Could someone please explain to me if Phil woolas was effectively sacked as an MP because he told lies in the election campaign and rightly so if he lied, why then are all those Lib Dem MPs not also sacked for telling even bigger lies to the electorate on tuition fees?

    Quite clearly all those Lib Dems that signed up to opposing increases in tuition fees now proposing trebling those fees, are not honourable or trustworthy and should be sacked. The irony that it was a Lib Dem candidate that complains about Phil Woolas telling lies is almost perverse. The violence at yesterdays march is a side issue, maybe even allowed or orchestrated to discredit the students and future students issues.

  • Comment number 31.

    10 Will

    The Riot Act was abolished as it proved a very difficult law under which the state could obtain a conviction.

    The aspect to it that allowed the state carte-blanche to brutalise anyone within a defined area did not fit in with modern values either.

  • Comment number 32.

    Further to my post above - I really wish we had mid-term elections in this country US style.
    Its complete nonsense that politicians can blatantly lie to get the job and then suffer no consequences.
    Saying that, I suspect at some point somebody will be made an example of by the electorate.

  • Comment number 33.

    49,950 people protested peacefully.
    50 people arrested.

    A violent minority normally try and attach themselves to any protest. This was no reason for Cameron or the right wing media to dismiss the cause in the way he has or to write off a whole generation.



  • Comment number 34.

    Susan-Croft @ 21 wrote
    This is a much better system and could in time do away with the less able who are wasting their time, and should not be there in the first place. The time wasters, and useless degrees being churned out that are of no use and merely secure unemployment for those taking them.


    >>

    If you want to exclude the less able, shouldn't you raise the entry criteria rather than the fees? Otherwise you risk dissuading the less affluent rather than the less talented.

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    The reason for the strength of the protests (regardless of the issue of violence) is the failure of politicians to adhere to the promises on which they were elected. The right to peaceful protest becomes meaningless if a government can simply ignore the promises it makes to achieve power since it is so much easier to ignore raised voices than risk at the ballot box. I am in my fifties, have no direct financial stake in this matter and am a lifelong Liberal. I cannot bring myself to vote Labour (they caused the mess) and will not vote for a Conservative Party which skews reform to benefit their own supporters. I can no longer vote for the Liberals so what can I do since I am effectively disenfranchised. The only choice I now see is to leave the UK.

  • Comment number 37.

    Behaving like a hoodlum is NOT the way to make a point... but in a day and age when politicians ignore the wishes of the citizens, it is sometimes hard to find a way to make your views known and instruct your hirelings in parliament as to what you require them to do without breaking something or thumping one of them: what can one do to get their attention?

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm broadly in favour of the Coalition's proposals on fees, loans and repayments.

    In a democracy though, the students have every right to protest, however the violence has devalued consideration of their cause.

    So my support for the Government is confirmed, rather than diminished, as it might have been.

    I do have though a suggestion for those students (and supporting contributors here) who wish to continue the violence - Go live in France, where violent street protest is part of their historic culture, or in China, where they'd soon discover things aren't so bad here after all.

  • Comment number 39.

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

  • Comment number 40.

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  • Comment number 41.

    Nick Robinson.

    "The prime minister told me: "..but I saw people who were bent on violence and on destroying property..""

    true, and chances are they weren't part of the protest but hired.

  • Comment number 42.

    Weredoomed @ 30 wrote:
    Could someone please explain to me if Phil woolas was effectively sacked as an MP because he told lies in the election campaign and rightly so if he lied, why then are all those Lib Dem MPs not also sacked for telling even bigger lies to the electorate on tuition fees?


    >>

    Yes, I will. It's the difference between a libel and a broken promise: the first potentially makes you a criminal, the second just a bit of a cad.

  • Comment number 43.

    What the protest illustrates is frustration with how the government is loading responsibility for repaying the deficit onto the youngest members of society because they know that it's the grey-hairs that elect them.

    The root of the problem is unacceptable levels of representation for younger people. We need:
    Votes for 16-17 year olds
    Measures to improve turnout for under 24 yo's
    Measures to limit the influence of those who have no motivation towards stewardship of our economy (i.e. the retired)


  • Comment number 44.

    33. At 10:16am on 11 Nov 2010, mattfrombrum wrote:
    49,950 people protested peacefully.
    50 people arrested.

    A violent minority normally try and attach themselves to any protest. This was no reason for Cameron or the right wing media to dismiss the cause in the way he has or to write off a whole generation.

    --------------
    Well said - but it's just another excuse from Cameron for not listening, isn't it?

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    Anyone see the footage of the demo last night when the window was being rammed from the outside ?

    Anyone who looked beyond the "action" could not have missed the line of Police a few feet away just watching.
    I think this demo suited many to show what could happen if, for example, the Police are cut.
    Sure the Big wigs from the Police have been out condemning it but they wont lose their jobs will they , it will be the rank and file.
    That demo was a wake up call. IDS now wants people banned from benefits for 3 years. That student demo was a picnic compared with what may be to come.

  • Comment number 47.

    "The Riot Act was abolished as it proved a very difficult law under which the state could obtain a conviction.

    The aspect to it that allowed the state carte-blanche to brutalise anyone within a defined area did not fit in with modern values either."

    Thankyou for the supporting evidence for my statement that it will not be brought back into force!

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    Could someone please explain to me if Phil woolas was effectively sacked as an MP because he told lies in the election campaign and rightly so if he lied, why then are all those Lib Dem MPs not also sacked for telling even bigger lies to the electorate on tuition fees?

    Quite clearly all those Lib Dems that signed up to opposing increases in tuition fees now proposing trebling those fees, are not honourable or trustworthy and should be sacked. The irony that it was a Lib Dem candidate that complains about Phil Woolas telling lies is almost perverse.
    -----------
    There is a difference between proposing a policy and then changing your mind on it, which may not be a deceit, and peddling vicious, personal lies about your opponent. The LD have changed their policy, and admitted they have been unable to deliver on that promise, and people are free to punish them at the ballot box but no laws were broken as they probably genuinely believed in that policy (never having been in government they've never had to worry about delivering until now), while Woolas knew what he was saying was a lie.

    The LD have not delivered most of their manifesto, but it was not a lie in most instances as it was a promise on what they would do if they had a majority, preposterous as the idea is. They would therefore always have had to compromise, and since we do not know what the Labour policy on education is yet it could well have ended up being a worse compromise for all we know. On this issue they have not only reluctantly compromised but accepted they were wrong as they would have been unable to deliver on their pledge, and people feel betrayed, which is fair enough. They couldn't deliver, so they will reap the effects of that failure, but it was not a knowing lie to undermine an opponent.

    Besides, if we wish to castigate the LD for this now, I am sure posters from all sides of the poltiical spectrum will be able to provide instances where a party not only reneged on a policy in their manifesto but did the very opopsite, including on the very subject of tuition fees.

  • Comment number 50.

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

  • Comment number 51.

    If the scenes at Millbank result from people having freedom no wonder the Chinese and others of a similar mindset turn a deaf ear to pleas about civil rights.

    As a nation we are hardly in a position to lecture others when some of our citizens behave in this way. No doubt it was a minority but those responsible should reflect on the wider perspectives of their actions.

  • Comment number 52.

    It's such a shame Baroness Warsi did not heed Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition on this one as she was locked in Millbank Tower.

    Natrually, they would have stood on the roof throwing buckets of fifty pound notes at the offending students. After all, if nothing else works at least the socialists know that money soothes in the short term.

    How silly of the coalition not to realise this.

    Still, at least when the next disruption kicks off, be it the savage cuts at the police or the freezing of nurses pay, we shall now have a ready made solution for the coalition to try - shower it with buckets of fifty pound notes..'newlabour-style'...

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 53.

    I like the way the government and its Ministry of 'Truth' (aka the BBC) are trying to detract attention by focusing on what was, apart from the odd dangerous and reckless moment, a trivial amount of violence which resulted in minor collateral damage to some blasted windows. I do not care about those blasted windows at all! The British Establishment sweeps 'collateral damage' totaling the ruining and stealing of thousands of innocent lives, in its ill thought-out wars, under the rug and then tries to make a few broken windows into a big deal. I don't think that anyone will listen to these liars and hypocrites anymore. What these arrogant and stubborn ministers have got to understand is that PEOPLE ARE ANGRY! When people have been bullied and pushed and beaten psychologically as much as they have over the past few years then I think violence is simply inevitable. If ministers don't wise up then I think yet more violence is inevitable. It is not enough to say that it is 'unacceptable' - they said the same about the Palestinians who are suffering and dying when they fought back! Push people too far and they will fight back - it takes no genius to understand this! It is a survival instinct that is inherent in human beings because Nature found it necessary. Again - right or wrong, violence was predictable because it was inevitable. Wise up ye ministers, for you will reap what you sow!

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    45. John your spelling is not too good is it? Perhaps you are one of those who got into university without the general educational standard to back you up?

    "Grannies" with meals on wheels? Hmm. If you check you might find that they were not entirely funded by the tax payer, I know this from researching it on behalf of my elderly father. Those who can afford to pay do indeed pay - Wiltshire Farm Foods et al. Look it up, and oh, go on a crash course in spelling not breaking windows old boy/girl.

  • Comment number 56.

    21. At 09:57am on 11 Nov 2010, Susan-Croft wrote:

    The bills racked up for the damage should be given directly to the Universities to pay from their budgets. That would soon put an end to this nonsense. Irresponsbile lecturers who joined this march should hang their heads in shame, knowing full well the need for these policies. They have shown they have a political agenda not an education one.

    ---------

    The people who incited the violence weren't even students as far as I could tell. I was marching near them when they kicked off and they were the typical people with anarchist slogans, hoodies and scarves who'd come along to derail another protest so they could get a quick thrill out of breaking some stuff. They couldn't care less who they were hurting.

    As for the lecturers who joined the march, aren't they entitled to political views? Or as soon as you become a lecturer (or policeman or doctor or fireman for that matter) do you suddenly lose your right to peaceful protest. I was so proud of the mass turnout of good, law abiding students who turned out to make their voices heard and it is a real shame that a few idiots with more free time than sense had to ruin it for all of us. Fifty thousand people marching should be enough to make any politicians head turn but now they have their reason to ignore it. Thanks a lot you violent idiots.

  • Comment number 57.

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  • Comment number 58.

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  • Comment number 59.

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  • Comment number 60.

    All this fighting talk of 'unacceptable' and threats to 'punish' will only anger The People more. Of course, the law will take its course, but Cameron should show some humility - his arrogance and big sticks will not break the will of The People.

  • Comment number 61.

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  • Comment number 62.

    The irony of all this is that most of the protesters haven't read the document fully and so don't actually realise it is less expensive individually for the poorer students than at present. I thought this was the main thrust of the protest. If you are stupid enough to take your opinion from a union, political party or self-interest group without doing the research into it yourself, then you should not be at university.

    It says a lot that the Labour party who introduced fees and increased them are fanning these flames and yet they haven't felt any of the brunt of this.

    I'm fed up of my generation before against everything, its so easy as the shadow cabinet are showing to disagree with everything but so hard to come up with realistic answers to difficult questions.

    I would have thought the best form of protest from students would be for them to fully cost government spending so they can show that we can afford the policies they are advocating, thus proving their worth.

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • Comment number 64.

    pdavies65 34

    Both are going to happen under the new system, so I understand, thus the reason I said what I did.

    Furthermore the new system does not disadvantage the less affluent that is Labour propaganda. Labour would have introduced exactly the same policy or something very similar should they have won the Election.

    The question I would be asking if I were a student now, is why certain parts of the UK are able to afford not to charge, except if you are English of course, because of too generous a budget going their way, making the system unfair. Maybe that is too difficult a question for some, do you think?


  • Comment number 65.

    @26 Susan-Croft wrote:

    "Some other Countries pay a lot more for tuition fees than the English do. Education at this level, is not a right it is a privilege. Unless people want to see Universities decline and not be able to compete with the rest of World, the money has to be found. "

    And some other countries pay a lot less than what is proposed, so what is your point? When you factor in the loss of the subsidy on the student loan interest our students will pay a fortune for their education with those on lower incomes paying interest for longer thus paying the most for their degrees. A stupid policy.

    As to the money being found the only reason fees are going up is because of direct government policy choice. They have chosen to reduce the University Teaching grant and pass the cost onto the students and their families. If they were not hell bent in cutting the deficit so fast they would not need to do this. It is a political choice and not a simply a case of finding the money form somewhere. It was already there in the form of the teaching grant and the government have chosen to take it away.

    The fact the Lib Dems were in favour of a more measured approach to deficit reduction that would have meant this would not need to happen merely confounds their hypocrisy over the student fees increase.

    @26 also wrote:

    "It would be wise for the students to remember it was the Labour Party who put them in this position in the first place, by poor education policy and economic mismanagement of the economy. I blame Labour, in particular, Harriet Harman, for stirring this up, when they know very well, they too would have had to take pretty much the same action."

    Well you would but then I guess for you the banking crisis never happened. The increase in fees is a direct result of how the current government has chosen to deal the fall out form that. It is their choice so they are the only ones to blame for the fees increase.

    It has nothing to do with Labour's pre-2008 spending where the deficit was actually lower than it was in 1997.

  • Comment number 66.

    Like Bryhers (#14) I remember the 1968 Anti-Vietnam War march... I was there, actually it was the first demonstration I saw, aged 7! I was impressed by the calm but determined behaviour of the marchers, interspersed with a bit of humour... as newspapers in advance were full of reports about foreign infiltrators taking over the demonstration, one chant was "We are all foreign scum!" and one middle-aged bloke, as he came past me, turned and grinned at me - "So are you!" Everyone was well-disciplined and good-natured and although minor trouble was reported, it was not evident.

    And I still remember "Ho Ho Ho-Chi-Minh - We will fight and we will win!" even if it was a while before I understood what it meant.

  • Comment number 67.

    Am I alone in thinking that The Metropolitan Police performance at the student riot yesterday had more to do with them making a point about forthcoming cuts than their ability/willingness to perform their duties in respect of lawless behavior?

  • Comment number 68.

    Rob 56

    I have no way of knowing if what you say is true, therefore, I cannot speak on your personal experience. From what I saw the students were involved. This is merely students trying to distance themselves from responsibility for this, because it may damage their cause.

    As to Lecturers, it was always taught to me, by their goodselves, that political views just like the Police, are kept as a personal matter and not forced on students. If you are telling me this situation has changed then no wonder we are having such problems. Lecturers are there to teach their subject not to carry out a socialist sgenda.

    The Universities should pay for this damage out of their budget, no one else.

  • Comment number 69.

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  • Comment number 70.

    Whilst the violence and disorder must be condemened it is easy to understand the feelings behind the actions. No doubt the students feel betrayed by the Lib Dems and many prospective students will now feel that they cannot justify going to university - they must feel what is the point of working hard at school behaving sensibly when there is now nothing obviouc to aim for?

    I found this blog on the subject, which makes interesting reading...

    https://anthonytrew.blogspot.com/2010/11/tuition-fees-protests-hope-sinks.html

  • Comment number 71.

    62. At 11:08am on 11 Nov 2010, JimClark07 wrote:
    The irony of all this is that most of the protesters haven't read the document fully and so don't actually realise it is less expensive individually for the poorer students than at present. I thought this was the main thrust of the protest. If you are stupid enough to take your opinion from a union, political party or self-interest group without doing the research into it yourself, then you should not be at university.

    ----------------

    For those of us with a measure of sense and who don't take our lead blindly from the unions we realise that the only way it will discourage poorer students is them never even having heard of £30k being a reasonable sum of money. What we're angry about is the way that today's students are being made to foot the bill for the incompetence of those with power over the economy (ie the banks), in causing the recession, while they get a light slap on the wrist and told to buck up their acts. We're angry because this new system is "a graduate tax in all but name"... oh, and the fact that those of us in power who got a free education 30 years ago don't pay. We're angry because the liberal democrats pledged to fight any rise in tuition fees and are now tripling cap. I'm angry because being aged 17 years, 11 months and 1 week at the last general election I didn't even get a say in who decided how my education would work.

    Maybe there is an element of it being worse off for poorer students, but anyone with half a brain can realise that it's only the 0.01% of the super-rich that will be able to afford to pay £9000 a year up front. We're angry because we are right to be. We marched because nobody was listening to us.

  • Comment number 72.

    Watching this on the news made me think, here come the 1980s again.
    I fully support the protest, my own children are close to university education and as a parent, I dread the cost of that. Equally if we want a future for our country and to be competitive on the world stage, we cannot burden the young with debt for their future.
    Based on recent protests ie: G20; Poll Tax etc. was the violence unexpected? I don't think so. Anarchist factions will always infiltrate these events to capture the headlines. Both the NUS & Police must be experiencing embarassment this morning at their naivety.
    What I can't help feeling though is that this will not be the last headline regarding violent protest during the life of this parliament. Yes we are in a difficult economic climate, but what Mr Cameron seems to be unable to understand is simply how unjust this seems to the average person struggling to get by. Recent headlines have been about mismanagement of the economy by the banks and especially by MPs lining their own pockets with their expense claims. Who are these people to be telling us to expect hard times.
    Wake up and smell the coffee Mr Cameron, the mood of the country is not good. It's not the lunatic fringe, it's the rational and moderate middle class constantly being squeezed and being expected to accept this situation.

  • Comment number 73.

    The violent actions of a minority who clearly set out with the intent of causing trouble does not detract from the message that the protest was trying to make. It is the action a moronic minority - if caught and convicted I would hope that should any happen to actually be students that they are thrown out.

    What detracts from it is the ovine behaviour of those students who stayed to watch and seemingly got caught up in the "look at me I'm on TV" moment, their message would have been even more powerful had they just walked away leaving the police to deal with a very small number of determined vandals they egged on.

    Perhaps they can consider that instead of reports of a peaceful march and the issue counterpointed with Camerons pathetic answer on fees in Beijing - they present the 24/7 media with more sensational pictures that swamped discussion of the actual issues.

    The issue is about debt - we have a government telling us debt is a bad thing (which it is) - yet prepared to load up future generations with a debt burden. A minor partner which clearly campaigned on a platform against fee increases and to seek to remove them that has betrayed those pledges.

    Indebture for life replacing indentured service - so perhaps we are to return to the 80s. 1780s that is.

  • Comment number 74.

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  • Comment number 75.

    I have to say about those riots of those mindless idiots, was copletly out of order , and they should be ashamed of them selves. This country can not afford free higher education for student going to university. full stop. To think that these poeple that was rioting last night are this countries future is frightening. As for that woman on news night last night can not remember her name but what an idiot she is. She did not condem those student actions at all . She should be ashamed of her self. If these students do riot again as she predicted. Then they must be crushed and stopped by the police. I would like to see them go to prison and have a criminal record. The enemy with in. What a shamfull incident that was.

  • Comment number 76.

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  • Comment number 77.

    Dave 65

    `It has nothing to do with Labour's pre-2008 spending where the deficit was actually lower than it was in 1997.'

    I think you are confusing the deficit with the debt. By 1997 the government had no deficit, by 2008 it had a deficit of around GBP 48 billion not allowing for the GBP 38 billion deficit found in the MOD budget.

    The National Debt around 2001 was about GBP 350 billion not much different from 1997. By the end of the current financial year at end March 2011 it will be about GBP 1 trillion.

    I fear this issue is not really about student fees, it is about the country being just about broke.

    The reality of the so-called spending cuts is that government spending is actually increasing and not reducing. Why? Because more taxpayers money than ever before is being poured into servicing this record debt.

    For the better part of forty years governments in this country, both Tory and Labour, have been spending more money than the economy can generate in taxes. This is known as living beyond your means. Even the wicked Thatcher increased government spending. This policy progressively degraded the real economy's ability to generate value and has left the country ill-equipped to deal with its current financial predicament.

    I just find it incredible that nobody wants to admire the lovely big elephant that is occupying the middle of the room. His name is Debt and we are all feeding him buns.

  • Comment number 78.

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  • Comment number 79.

    Typical of students to be thinking of themselves in these hard times, they'd rather the rest of us pay for their education even though they can't get a graduate level job when they leave university, these are supposed to our brightest and best, stop hitting me with the 'poor kids' will suffer stick, I've had enough of the BS.

    They can't even seem to be able to differentiate between $6000 average and £9000 in exceptional circumstances.

    I suspect these idiots will be the same ones that say 'its so unfair I didn't get to go to this university or that university' as their first choice becuase there simply aren't enough places to go round for the course they want.


    Please tell me we've got still got some students doing economics?

  • Comment number 80.

    What's the point of British students aquiring £40k-£50k of debt to get a degree if the govt (behind their backs) promotes the immigration of graduates from India (and elsewhere) to work/live in the UK... thereby undercutting British graduate salaries by quite some margin????????????????????????

    Free-market loving, libertarian predators are slowly but surely dismantling this country piece-by-piece with the aid of the Lisbon treaty (aka the libertarian's charter)

    Google 'tabblenabble02' and read comments to understand how this has be done.

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

    68. At 11:25am on 11 Nov 2010, Susan-Croft wrote:
    Rob 56

    I have no way of knowing if what you say is true, therefore, I cannot speak on your personal experience. From what I saw the students were involved. This is merely students trying to distance themselves from responsibility for this, because it may damage their cause.

    -------------

    I'm not denying that some students got caught up in it, and I'm deeply ashamed of them, but it was a hardened core who took advantage of our unity to turn the march into something wrong.

    With regards to the lecturers again, they've not been shouting their views from the lecture theatres, they turned up to a protest to make their views heard. Nobody's being indoctrinated, I know of no lecturers from my university who even attended the march, but the fact remains that they have a right to stand up and be counted too.

    Comments 72 and 73, you both have the right idea, I completely agree.

    Off to lectures now, while it's still a mere £3000 a year for a few 10 year old powerpoint presentations.

  • Comment number 83.

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  • Comment number 84.

    alan chadwick #75.

    "I have to say about those riots of those mindless idiots, was copletly out of order , and they should be ashamed of them selves. This country can not afford free higher education for student going to university. full stop. To think that these poeple that was rioting last night are this countries future is frightening. As for that woman on news night last night can not remember her name but what an idiot she is. She did not condem those student actions at all . She should be ashamed of her self. If these students do riot again as she predicted. Then they must be crushed and stopped by the police. I would like to see them go to prison and have a criminal record. The enemy with in. What a shamfull incident that was."

    a perfect example why good schooling and further education ought to be available to everybody, irrespective of their means. a decent education does broaden the mind.

  • Comment number 85.

    It seems ridiculous to claim it was a small minority that caused the violence, don't those that stayed to 'egg on' the rioters are just as culpable as those throwing the fire extinguishers off the roof at the police below?

    500 people detained is not a small minority. Isn't it about time that people started taking responsibility for their own lives?

  • Comment number 86.

    A lot of the tory cheerleaders bleeting about 'unlawful action'

    Sounds like this one has got them rattled.

    Anyone think this is the end?
    --------
    I'm not a Tory, and I still think the unlawful action was a disgrace. Is that bleeting? Yes it was a tiny number and the protest itself was large and peaceful, but that is why the unlawful action in so infuriating, as well as people slyly approving it (though I do not say you are by your post), because a well organized and evidently popular protest about a divisive issue has been hijacked. I am not in favour of trebling fees, but have yet to see a party with a policy I wholly agree with (who knows, maybe when Labour finalize their plans I might even support those), and that unlawful action gives the Coalition at least a partial out as they can avoid the main issue for a while as a result.

    And no, I don't think this is the end, for protests or idiots pursuing unlawful action at said protests, but no solution offered by politicians of any stripe seems to match what students would prefer as there isn't themoney for that, so I doubt the govs determination to put it through will end either.

  • Comment number 87.

    79. At 11:46am on 11 Nov 2010, Reg wrote:

    They can't even seem to be able to differentiate between $6000 average and £9000 in exceptional circumstances.

    -----------

    As opposed to those enlightened grown-ups who can't differentiate between dollars and pounds?

  • Comment number 88.

    Dave 65

    Sorry Dave I have no intention of answering Labour spin.

    I can assure you, Britain would have ended up with a deep recession whether the banking crisis had happened or not, because of Labours policies. Those being creating a bloated public sector that the private sector could not pay for even in good times. Not encouraging growth throughout Britain, instead relying on just one sector to earn the taxation, the financial sector, and far too much Government spending. This subject has been done to death and is not a political point for me, merely the truth. If you still believe differently you are living in denial. As to cuts, in my opinion the Coalition are not cutting fast enough, nor including enough of the services in the cuts. NHS, Overseas aid, deeper cuts in Welfare, are some examples.

    In actual fact, in some ways, you should be thanking the Financial sector, because for 13 years it was the only sector that was keeping Britain afloat.

    As tuition fees, Labour, as I have already said would have had to introduce this policy or something very similar should they have won the Election. Indeed it was themselves who commissioned this report. The point was other Countries charge more, stop moaning, Britain can only have policies which are affordable. Unless you would like the University system to fall well behind and not be able to compete in the World. Then even less people would be getting this higher level of education.


  • Comment number 89.

    79. At 11:46am on 11 Nov 2010, Reg wrote:

    Reg, I do agree with you about the students not getting into the detail.

    The fear is this is the thin end of the wedge and that, in the blink of an eye, £9k will become the norm because, let's face it, there's no incentive not to charge the maximum they can and there's nobody in government that could, or would, do a thing to stop it.
    Lets compare this to the immigration cap introduced where suddenly this is exempt and that is exempt, leaving the policy in tatters.

    Thereafter its a few short years and we'll be having "free-market" pricing and before you know it British universities will be charging US-style fees, on the basis that that's the "market rate" and they need to charge such fees to be competitive.

  • Comment number 90.

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

  • Comment number 91.

    I'm a bit bemused by all this actually, especially David Cameron's response.

    He's complaining about a few broken windows in central London - didnt he vote yes for two wars? Oh, of course, that doesnt count.
    Where were his "but I saw people who were bent on violence and on destroying property and that is completely unacceptable" comments then?

    Hypocrites - the lot of them.

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

    This is the start of many such demonstrations. When large sections of people have a cause and feel so strongly it a almost unavoidable that a minority will go too far into violence. The mob mentality kicks in. This is not new ! Why are politicians and especially the police surprised and unprepared ? Do the politicians really believe the can make deep cuts without upsetting people ? They keep talking about fairness - this is provocative when the high earners and those that benefited from free education are not badly affected by the cuts.
    Lib Dem politicians must be ashamed of themselves ! Telling downright lies on tuition fees prior to the election and Cameron promising to keep child benefit at the same time - all to get elected. Well justice will be done - the people will vote, speak and/or rise in protest.
    This is only the beginning ........

  • Comment number 94.

    87. At 11:56am on 11 Nov 2010, Rob wrote:
    79. At 11:46am on 11 Nov 2010, Reg wrote:

    They can't even seem to be able to differentiate between $6000 average and £9000 in exceptional circumstances.

    -----------

    As opposed to those enlightened grown-ups who can't differentiate between dollars and pounds?

    -------------------------------

    Or those dullards that would rather jump on a typo than have a reasoned debate? A bit like those dullards yesterday?

    Lets face it, the way harriet harperson jumped on it yesterday you could be forgiven for thinking that the left wing politicians were in on it from the start?

    We've been hearing it for months from the unions who are in labours pocket (or is it the other way round?) that there will be will be civil unrest and the people should rise up.

    Awesome, so students think that trashing a building is the right way to go about trying to get people to see your point? I hope the clean up and the bill for the police is laid fairly at the NUS door, or should it be taken out of the students budgets?

  • Comment number 95.

    82. At 11:52am on 11 Nov 2010, Rob wrote:

    Off to lectures now, while it's still a mere £3000 a year for a few 10 year old powerpoint presentations.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    If you do not think that it offers value for money then don't go.

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • Comment number 97.

    "Wry amusement.." says it all from a man whose mummy and daddy paid for Cameron junior to satiate his every hedonistic wish whilst at Oxford by paying the £10k required to be a member of the Bullingdon Club. The man has no idea how ordinary people live, and more importantly, struggle on a daily basis to earn a crust and pay the bills.

    As for Mr Clegg, he should suffer the same fate as Mr Woolas for blatantly lying over the tuition fee issue - one can only assume he only signed "that" decalration as he never expected to be called upon to implement it - thus he has perpetrated a fraud upon the electorate.

    If one is knowingly setting out to disrupt, and in some cases destroy, peoples lives don't be surprised if there is a backlash. If Mr Cameron doesn,t understand that we British are not naturally politically violent (as, say, the French are) then he needs to ask himself what part he has played in this sorry affair - it's not good enough to say that more police should have been involved, or look to "beef up" public order legislation. The problem is the coalition, and Mr Cameron is its head, the buck stops with him.

  • Comment number 98.

    "A lot of the tory cheerleaders bleeting about 'unlawful action'

    Sounds like this one has got them rattled.

    Anyone think this is the end?"

    It's 'bleating'.

    The reason people are worried by violent protest is that it can go one of two ways - mob rule, or police escalationism. I, personally, want neither.

    Rattled? Of course - but not politically. Rattled, instead, because some people, yourself included, seem to believe that smashing buildings, starting fires and assaulting policewomen is the best way to induce the government to give you whatever your heart desires.

    We're not worried that you'll be proven wrong - we're terrified that you'll be proven right. Because, at that point, the rule of law is no longer a protection from a sociopathically violent minority - instead, violence becomes the defining tool of enlightened political debate. Which, I think, would be something of a backwards step in our political evolution.

    Do I hope it's the end? Of course I do. Seven police officers were injured by this tiny, vicious element. Why would anyone want a repeat of that? Why should that cruelty be rewarded or encouraged? And why do you seem intent on so doing? Methinks it says far more about your mindset than your politics.

  • Comment number 99.

    Doesn't anyone else think it rather odd that, after years of over-zealous policing and any number of demonstrations when the Old Bill had a better idea of what was going to happen than the organisers, the police suddenly lose the power to police demonstrations?

    'Suddenly' - as in a couple of months after the Government announce massive cut backs in police funds which will undoubtedly lead to jobs lost for the Boys in Blue.

    Thatcher was wise enough to give the police a massive payrise in 1979, which explains why they were so keen to go mental in the coalfields five years later.

    If I were a Tory Minister, I wouldn't bother phoning 999 next time my house is burgled...

  • Comment number 100.

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

 

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