jump to navigation

Purile student protests in London 30, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
Tags: , , , ,

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.




1. Paul - 30, November 2010

I must say I broadly sympathise with the students. I was lucky enough to get a top notch education at very low fees because of heavy government subsidies. It seems bizarre to me, that with the problems of the last three years, which could all be blamed on debt, the British government’s idea of reform is to saddle young people with large debts the moment they leave uni. I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think that is the right one.

2. Paul - 1, December 2010

Also, I really don’t like the British riot police. Last year during the April G-20 protest, I happened to be in Central London and got stuck in with a bunch of protesters being kettled. They wouldn’t let me leave, even though I was clearly not part of the protest. When I persisted, one of them yelled obscenities at me and threatened me with his stick if I didn’t step back. I didn’t press the issue, and had to spend some 5 hours in the bleeding street. This was the day Ian Tomlinson was killed.

thegulfblog.com - 1, December 2010

I do see your point, but I’d mention two rejoinders.

Precisely because generations like yours received massively subsidised education is part of the reason as to why students today cannot. Yes, it would be nice to keep on piling up the debt for future generation – the only tenable ‘solution’ if you don’t want to increase fees – but that’s got to stop some time.

All debt is not bad and people must not assume that it is. If I had a £1000 credit card debt, I could manage that fairly easily: no problem. Was there another 0 on the end; less so. A debt of a few hundred thousand is enough to force a small football club into administration; Manchester United’s hundreds of millions are likely to be ‘fine’, economically speaking, as they are worth so much more.

I’ve got nearly £20,000 of student debts sitting in an account. This to me is fine. This is not because I’m rich (a PhD student!!) or because I have family wealth which I most certainly do not have, but because it just sits there and demands to be paid back as and when I can afford it. Yes, no one likes the idea of £20,000 of debt [believe me; I’d prefer not to habve it], but, frankly, if it nets you a good job as it is designed to do, then you can afford to pay it back, as you should. If you don’t then the debt will not demand that much of you. All seems rather reasonable to me.

And, crucially, to say that ‘I demand a world-class education for free’ just sounds ludicrous to me.

thegulfblog.com - 1, December 2010

I love the way you said “I didn’t press the issue”: I don’t blame you!

I can see why, with your experience, you’d be rather unimpressed with the police. There are no excuses for any of it, other than to say that they’re only human.

The police that I spoke to yesterday were polite and jovial to a fault.

3. Paul - 1, December 2010

I should point out I studied in India, where higher education is heavily subsidised by the Government. Most students only pay a nominal fee, indeed lodging is often more expensive than the fee as it was for myself. One consequence of this is the notorious shortage of seats which has resulted in a cut throat meritocracy.
Another consequence is that education loans are virtually unknown in India. Even those who study abroad rarely depend on loans. It’s mostly only people on scholarships, like my brother who’s studying in South Korea, or those who can afford to, go abroad.
There are private institutions as well but their fees are only slightly higher, simply because of the competition from the government institutions.
Now all this may make Indian higher education sound perfect. It’s not. Major root and branch reform is needed, and the current minister Kapil Sibal is doing some good work. But one aspect of the system I don’t think needs change is the fee structure which has allowed the best from India, no matter what background, to go to some world class institutions.

As for the police, I think the recent problems have made the police a lot more cautious in dealing with the public. Also as an Indian, I’m naturally much less trusting of police simply because the Indian police service are a nasty bunch. Compared to them, London Metropolitan are cuddly as teddy bears. I’m still wary of them, but that’s instinctive.

4. Troy Wearer - 2, December 2010

It’s worrying that when we start to criticise students, we become, almost by definition, old. I agree with everything you wrote, which I guess makes me old 😦

Great quote from Bart Simpson “we need another Vietnam to thin their ranks out”

love the blog, keep it up

thegulfblog.com - 3, December 2010

I know the feeling. Though I’ve got to say that I’ve always hated ostentatious expressions of angst; they’ve never been my thing. It always seems to profoundly whiny and not a little pathetic to me. But I suppose that just means that I’ve been old for longer than I think…

Thank for the patronage…keep that up too! Cheers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: