It is interesting to listen to "student leaders" today. I seem to remember there was much television watching during my years as a student. I hasten to add that I merely heard about this television watching by chance when being again forcibly ejected from the library after closing hours, so assiduous was I in pursuit of my studies. My point is that these students seem to think yesterday's peaceful demonstrations went a little like this:
Thousands of flower-wearing, peace-loving students descended upon London (having definitely all sought permission to miss their studies which they clearly deem rather important) to embark upon a peaceful protest at student fees legislation. They all kept to the rules agreed with the police, kept to the agreed route and generally behaved themselves with such delicate manners that people of London went into the streets to ask them if they'd like to come in for tea and perhaps marry their daughters. In an act of pure, unwarranted evil, the police then charged into their midst and gave them all a jolly good whopping. Vive la résistance.
They must have been in a different march, and since not managed to happen past a plasma-filled Currys shop window (they couldn't possibly own televisions, they can't even afford to pay for their education). Yesterday's protest was a disgrace - worse even than the previous attempts at peaceful protest (if indeed it was really attempted). That the police acted with such restraint is frankly laudable. The mindless violence and wanton vandalism that was perpetrated by a significant part of the march was criminal, plain and simple, and should be prosecuted accordingly. Being on a protest march, or being miffed at something are not excuses to commit crimes. They were not incited by police, they were inciting violence themselves, on a widespread and organised scale.
If any normal citizen were to act like that they would expect to be stopped with proportionate force. If my friends and I were to go around my village tonight burning cars and smashing windows, then I would expect a policeman to arrive. If I were to then attack him I'd probably expect to be hit, outnumbered and in danger as I have put him. Onlooking residents would not think that heavy-handed. Yet that is what happened many times over in London yesterday and some people have the temerity to suggest this was unfair violence visited upon the students by a vicious police force.
I shan't go so far as to say anyone deserved their injuries - the rule of law does not hand out physical punishment for the crimes that were committed - however they certainly did their best to put themselves in harm's way. The students have a point, but it will be drowned out by these hooligans. I am against the new legislation, but there is no place in modern democracy for this idiocy. The "student leaders" should realise whilst this type of protest will gain them more coverage than a peaceful protest would have done, they will alienate more support than they will gain.
Oh, and attacking the Prince of Wales, as unassociated with this legislation or supportive of future generations as you could find, beautifully typified the entire sad episode. If this is the level of intelligence displayed by those attending or aspiring to attend university, it may be as well to knock the whole of higher education on the head; we clearly need to do some more work at primary level.