Try as I might, I cannot condemn the violence at the protest in London yesterday. The public fight back.
It is easy for Journalists to talk about it as if it is the end of the World. It sells papers. Middle Class England doesn’t particularly like disorder, because it might upset their consumer paradise. They don’t want disruption. They speak about how awful it is for about 1% of a student protest to end up breaking into a building, whilst they do their clothes shopping at Primark; famed for it’s awful record on using sweatshops and child labour. Journalists are happy to post pictures of a student or two smashing a window, but seem wholly reluctant to show any images of Afghan children dead at the hands of the pointless British war machine. Middle Class England doesn’t want to see that, they want to go to HMV and Starbucks and moan about the Left Wing. Middle Class England has a new Call of Duty game to rush home and play. Middle Class England wants to refer to all striking workforces as greedy, simply because it might interrupt their day. How dare anyone want better pay and working conditions whilst you’re rushing home to watch Neighbours? The bastard lefties. Middle Class England, is a hypocritical, mindless robot. The media know it, and they make a lot of money from it. Do we really believe that suddenly The Sun and The Telegraph and The Mail have a new found sense of morality? compass? Their morality is entirely market based.
It is easy for the media to tell us that a bunch of crazed Anarchists took over the protest. This just isn’t true. I am not an anarchist, and I fully support them.
The New Statesman agrees:
Not all of those smashing through the foyer are in any way kitted out like your standard anarchist black-mask gang. These are kids making it up as they go along. A shy looking girl in a nice tweed coat and bobble hat ducks out of the way of some flying glass, squeaks in fright, but sets her lips determinedly and walks forward, not back, towards the line of riot cops.
Most of them, were students who think like me. One post graduate student echoes my thoughts, when he told the New Statesman:
“Look, we all saw what happened at the big anti-war protest back in 2003, bugger all, that’s what happened. Everyone turned up, listened to some speeches and then went home. It’s sad that it’s come to this, but…” he gestures behind him to the bonfires burning in front of the shattered windows of Tory HQ. “What else can we do?”
Students and Unions should now unite.
There is something poetically beautiful about standing by Conservative Party Headquarters, whilst thousands of Socialist leaflets float aimlessly to the group from above. It made me a little bit proud. I hope it’s a sign of things to come. When a Government introduces life destroying aggressive policies, it will also provoke aggressive reactions. Simple protests do not work. They “make a point“. A large majority of the students yesterday voted Liberal Democrat to avoid these kinds of measures. The violence was not anti-democratic; the Liberal Democrats are wholly responsible for the anti-democratic nature of England, and a lot of people are not likely to stand for it. You cannot destroy education; destroy job prospects and dreams; destroy 500,000 jobs in less than a day in Parliament, and expect people to simply “make a point”. Poll tax riots defeated the Thatcher government and brought her down. Civil rights riots defeated the awful program of segregation. 2,000,000 people marched in London against the Iraq War in 2003…… and yet the war carried on for 7 more years and thousands more dead. Civil disobedience works.
The great Australian journalist, John Pilger sums it up perfectly, with:
The BA workers, the firefighters, the council workers, the post office workers, the NHS workers, the London Underground staff, the teachers, the lecturers, the students can more than match the French if they are resolute and imaginative, forging, with the wider social justice movement, potentially the greatest popular resistance ever. Look at the web; listen to the public’s support at fire stations. There is no other way now. Direct action. Civil disobedience. Unerring. Read Shelley and do it.
Here are a few of my photos from yesterday in London: