Students. Don't you just love 'em?
Look at them, running around central London with their witty placards, fresh faces and baggy jeans, keeping the Police on their toes and making them earn their wages for once. Fair play to them for at least making an effort i say. It's been a long time since we've had proper sustained protesting on this scale in this country and it's impressive that they seem to have shattered the myth of the stereotypical slacker teenager who only cares about his or hers next spliff or game of Call Of Duty on the Xbox.
But are they doing it right? Because lets face it, rioting isn't what it used to be.
I have vague childhood recollections of the riots of the late 70's and early 80's. I seem to recall long hot summers where Brixton, Southall, Toxteth & Handsworth all went up in smoke fuelled by working class anger at a government that had left the poorest people on the poorest estates to rot and fester. These riots seemed to go on for days, with images of burning cars and shops or injured coppers being stretchered away on makeshift stretchers being bombarded into our front rooms, it seemed like this was history in the making and things would never be quite the same again. We even had the soundtrack to these riots with the likes of The Specials ,The Clash and The Jam all topping the charts while the inner city sink estates tore themselves apart. Even though much of it was race related it was enough to make even the mildest mannered working class Joe Bloggs want to chuck a Molotov cocktail at a line of riot coppers. Yep, lets face it kids, rioting used to be fun! Maybe that's why the usual suspects of a certain age from the S.W.P and the Anti Fash brigade have been spotted in the thick of the action whipping things up every week, these boys used to love nothing more than a good old fashioned tear up when the National Front marched through their towns.
And it's that self same working class spirit of dissatisfaction that appears to be missing from this current round of riots or 'direct action' as the media would rather label it. A good gauge of things such as this is my old man. After the first round of protests at Millbank he was all for them causing the Old Bill as much grief as possible. After last weeks pictures he had changed his viewpoint and was of the opinion that they should "fuck off back home to their Surrey mansions". Watching it myself as a complete outsider (University education? Moi? Pfffft) i feel myself lacking any lasting empathy for them because (and forgive me for over simplifying things here) it would appear on the face of it to be a very middle class protest and the last thing it should be about is class. The working classes should be learning from this and rising up off their backsides and getting involved. The cherry, on the icing on the cake of this particular point would be the pictures of a certain Mr Dave Gilmour's son Charlie swinging from a Union Flag on the cenotaph that were plastered across the media last week. I don't think I'm speaking out of turn when i say I'm pretty sure this contemptuous little prick has never wanted for anything in his privileged twenty one years. Just how much do university fee hikes and funding cuts really affect the son of a multi-millionaire musician? I'd hazard a guess at absolutely fuck all.
His explanation for his actions was at best wishy-washy and at worst laughable..
Hang on a minute, isn't he supposed to be a young, thrusting University student who is enjoying the best education that (Daddy's) money can provide? Yet he appears to be so wrapped up in a bubble of upper class poncery that he decided that these actions were 'excitement'. He's meant to be the cream of this country, yet in one fell swoop he's dissipated every last shred of acceptance and empathy the working class man in the street had for his and his fellow protesters cause and all the long held suspicions held by the proletariat about their upper class masters come flooding out once again......and quite rightly so. The poster boy for the student protests has been outed as a disrespectful, idiot son of a millionaire rocker....good work everybody!
So where do they go now? Do they blindly turn up throw a few paint bombs, light a few half arsed bonfires, spray paint some 'edgy' graffiti and then moan about being 'kettled'? Or do they take a leaf out of the football casuals handbook of causing a spot of unrest and think on their feet by splitting into smaller groups and instead of concentrating on central London take their protests nationwide? Who knows, but without the backing of a large slice of the voting public ie; the working classes, their plea's for change will inevitably fall on deaf ears. If they played it smart and used the whole issue as a call to arms for the whole country to get off its arse and try and make a change then they would obviously garner far more widespread support in my opinion.
Whether they can put down their Kafka novels and their beginners guides to Bolshevism and realise this before the whole thing fizzles out is another matter. Let's hope they do get their act together because no matter what side of the political spectrum you come from every government needs to be told in no uncertain terms that the people are still here alive and kicking and still hold some form of power.
They may run the country but we'll riot if we want to.........in a very polite manner though.