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Purile student protests in London 30, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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I’ve already made clear what I think about the issue of student fees in the UK. But – frankly – this is my blog and this gives me the luxury of, well, moaning on about the same thing again.

This afternoon I was in central London where there were small crowds protesting the rise in University fees. Seldom have I seen such an absurd, juvenile, immature and vaguely thuggish group of motley protestors.

Their key method of protest today was to chant vile slogans and to generally make a noise. “Fuck the government” they screamed when prompted. “Down with society” one curious fellow suggested, though that didn’t really take off. As they walked from Trafalgar Square in dribs and drabs towards Parliament, their swearing increased and they began to innovatively start giving passers-by – mostly tourists – rude gestures while screaming obscenities: who knew such people could multitask. Amazing.

Incidentally, many stopped off in McDonald’s en route for a quick burger before continuing to decry western capitalism amongst other revolutionary new topics. Truly not a shred of comprehension or irony was visible.

When they reached the police line at Parliament they informed the police there that they were “nob-heads” and “wankers”.

I felt 100% sorry for the police: they just stood there in the cold for hours on end waiting to be abused by a bunch of angry children who had no real idea why they were there. I spoke to a few of them.

The first told me to “fuck off” when I asked what his rationale was for demonstrating. The second and the third were similarly devastating in their verbal reparti and eloquence of argument. I asked the fourth if she expected a world-class education for free. After 30 seconds of umming and arring (she was giving out the leaflets: think she might know their gist) she launched into a bitter tirade about how her mum had been paid to go to University with grants and even rent-help.

‘Mine too’, I replied,’but is that it? You’re here because you’re jealous of your mum? The past is, well, gone…things change and if the money is not there the money is not there’, I suggested.

‘Yeah well…corporation tax is…umm…you know…banks take our money….fucking Tories…’ and it generally descended from there.

Not one coherent sentence among the lot.

The majority – today at least, and by looking at the TV pictures of previous demos, the majority then too – were there purely and simply for a chance to skip school/class and to swear at police and saunter through central London spouting profanities because they could get away with it. This was it: their raison d’etre. Barely a brain-cell between them. Just an embarrassing, utterly and profoundly juvenile bunch of petty-minded idiots.

To cap it all off, it seems they spent some of the afternoon desecrating Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square. Charming. Even were I one of those ‘students’ who wanted fees to be scrapped and say I was on the demonstration, one of the last things that I would do is desecrate a national symbol: I’m fairly sure that I didn’t need a University education to teach me that such an act would be perceived rather poorly by the general public to the determent of ‘my’ cause. Clearly, the ones that did this – painted revolution on the column – don’t actually have a cause and are there, once again, for the vandalism and yobbish opportunities that such a demonstration affords.



Cablegate: on reflection 30, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Opinion.
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Before analysts get too self-congratulatory about how the cablegate leaks have ‘proven’ how they ‘have been right all along’, there are a few important caveats.

1.       Just because a diplomat said something doesn’t mean it’s true. Ordinarily, one would never have to make such an obvious statement, yet I think that this is being forgotten in this debate. Many of these dispatches are Americans briefing other sections of their diplomatic establishment on, for example, Gulf countries. They therefore espouse the ‘party line’; the image that they [the authors] want the one who is going to x region to carry on.

2.       Yes, diplomats often have very good access. But when one is written by an Ambassador about an interview with a Crown Prince, for example, we must not forget that the Crown Prince in question is not necessarily telling the truth. Again, just because it is meant to be a private ‘off the record’ conversation doesn’t necessarily lend it any more validity. A Crown Prince in the Gulf has a vested interest in deepening and prolonging American support for obvious reasons. What is the best way to do this? By highlighting the Iranian threat and as a key corollary, ‘their’ important on the U.S. side against them too.

3.       The establishment in the Gulf, it must be forgotten, are not necessarily any kind of bell-weather of public opinion at large. They are mostly unelected, after all. While in some instances, I’m sure they do accurately reflect their peoples’ opinions, this must not be taken as a given, as, I think, it often is in this case.

4.       What has been leaked is but a fraction of the whole. There are supposed to be hundreds of thousands more documents to come. As I noted yesterday, Assange picked and chose these pieces of information for a reason. What reason? Publicity, probably, but who knows. Don’t for get this.

These leaks are both fascinating and useful: I don’t want to be too scrooge like about them, but at the same time, I think a brief pause is perhaps necessary to contemplate exactly what they are and where they came from.