Some friends and I have been discussing our plans to go on the student demonstration tomorrow. We support the students' demand for no rise in tuition fees (and how about getting rid of fees altogether and reinstating free education?). And against the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which helps children from low-income families continue in education. And against the devastating cuts planned in funding to universities, particularly for arts, humanities and social sciences.
We are also buoyed up, as many socialists, trade unionists and campaigners have been, by the young people's courage and imagination.
But along with this goes a certain amount of shame. Feelings of shame that the labour movement has allowed things to get to this pass. We are cheering on children and young adults who simply have no choice but to revolt against a massive attack on their future. If we were them, we would do the same.
But we are not them, we are older, and we have had it easier. Yet we have allowed ourselves to be ground down, and infected by the political rot around us. Now we are facing devastating attacks on our jobs and on the services we rely on. Are we responding adequately? As individuals, some of us are. But as a movement?
A number of trade union big-wigs will speak tomorrow at a lobby organised by the National Union of Students as a "respectable" sideshow. Meanwhile, a few metres away, angry young people, braving the wrath of teachers and the educational establishment, parents, a sceptical media, and the fearsome sight of police lines, including riot police, will be throwing their bodies into a kind of battle. What will the trade union big-wigs say? I hope they will not condemn the young people but will find it in themselves to praise their courage. If nothing else, if it weren't for the students, these bureaucrats would not have a platform to appear on.
What about rank and file trade unionists? What are we doing? We should support the students, but we should do it responsibly, by which I mean that we should be prepared to join them in battle, to defend our jobs and services, and, ultimately, our young people. We can't hide behind kids; we have to start fighting too.