Thursday, 11 November 2010
All I want is a free education
Owing to the lateness of the hour, I can't write a long report of the student demonstration today (Wednesday). I went along to take pictures. I didn't manage to meet up with Middlesex University students - I wonder what they made of the mayhem at the end! I met one of their lecturers, though, who told me that there were about 50 Middlesex students and a dozen staff, which I would consider a good turnout.
On the violence front, I think there were a few unnecessarily violent acts - and some purely moronic, such as someone chucking a fire extinguisher off the roof of Millbank Tower. But, and it's a big but, I would not condemn the students for what they did. What, honestly, do people expect when students have been lied to by the Lib Dems, who told them they would get rid of tuition fees? And forced by the government to accept - if not for them, for their younger brothers and sisters, and for all our children - prohibitively high fees just to get an education?
The whole economy depends on having educated people, doesn't it? If we are going to start using the argument about personal benefit, why don't we start charging school children to go to school? After all, they'll benefit from it personally.
The police miscalculated today. Even I could have told them that the route to Tate Britain, passing Millbank Tower, was a recipe for trouble. That is where the Conservative Party (and Labour) have their offices. (If the students had found out where Lib Dem HQ is, just around the corner, I doubt it would still be standing now. I think they would have dismantled it brick by brick.)
In the evening, as a group of us peered at the debris and the rows of riot police protecting the lobby of Millbank Tower, a couple of lads passed me. "All I want is a free education," one of them said to his friend, with real sorrow in his voice. I don't believe he is asking for too much.