“We are witnessing the radicalisation of a generation. This is to current students what the Iraq war was to the last lot – and what the poll tax was to those before them. As I walked back to parliament, with crowds of protestors chanting ‘Tory scum’ at me because of my suit, I saw a young girl shouting: “Down with MPs – all they ever do is lie.”
It’s juvenile, of course, and immature. And it happens to be false. But what the Lib Dems have done was teach these people, whose first ever vote was for their party, that politicians’ words are without value. Right now that girl is passionate and idealistic. In a few years, she will be one of those people down the pub, utterly cynical and disconnected.
Their bitter anger – which is real, valid and justified – is a more important lesson to take from yesterday than police failures or property damage.”
Wrote Ian Dunt form Talking politics, giving his personal account of the student protest on Wednesday 10th of November, a protest which began peacefully enough but ended with some displays of violence by a minority as always, which saw police officers injured and banners and placards burnt. Up to 50’000 people took part in this demonstration, protesting against Education cuts in particular the proposal which will see the upper limit for University fees rising from £3’290 to an astounding £9’000 per year from as early as 2012! Its almost criminal I felt, and i could understand the rage felt by those students even if we condemn the violence. I was fortunate enough to go to University when it was free, unlike the students today, and with part time jobs so difficult to come by today, I have young cousins who have failed despite desperately trying to find jobs to fund their student costs.
These students are rightly worried about the massive bill they will be leaving University with, with no guarantee of Jobs, or a high income, with rising graduate unemployment, high house prices (particularly in London) and a prospect of a life of debts. The shocking U turn of the popular proposal of a graduate tax has brought protests too, as it would in fact have levelled the playing field a little, even if it meant higher earners would have paid a little more. My main concern is though those students leaving less ‘prestigious’ universities and ‘Lower income return’ courses whom will be left with the same debt as those attending Oxbridge or ‘Higher income returning courses’ (ie medicine or engineering) whom will be more likely to be guaranteed a job and a high income, so I ask where is the fairness here? We know the people who will end up being penalised and affected greater are those as usual from the lower socio economic backgrounds, whom if not deterred from University will find themselves more likely in those in less ‘prestigious’ universities and on lower income returning courses, hence feeding in and widening the divide of the rich and poor.
The reaction to the protest was probably greater than the incumbent government had predicted, and I wonder it must surely be seriously causing the Tories and the Lib Dems to Sweat a little – so lets watch this space. Union leaders however have warned that the proposed “right to recall” legislation (not law yet) to unseat Mps who go against their election pledges on Tuition fees could mean Mps face a “no confidence vote” from their constituents and be forced to stand down or face a by election if they breech election pledges on tuition fees. If that doesn’t happen then those angry faces we saw on Wednesday, a huge 24’000 plus students in 3 or 4 years will be leaving university with a massive bill, and my guess is they may want to express their feelings democratically and justifiably against that ballot box, and remove the smug grin of the faces of the ConDem Government.
Article by Sultana Begum