Sorry for the temporary lapse in my blogging – Christmas and revision rather zapped my creativity. But here I am, back to the furious typing. It seems to me that a lot has happened since I last blogged, so I will just do an article on one of the most important events.
Students riots turn interesting, and ugly
Thousands of students took to the streets throughout November and December, firstly to dissuade politicians from voting for an increase in tuition fees and then to show their anger once the bill was passed. And angry they were. Seemingly peaceful demonstrations turned worryingly violent at times, most notably outside the Tory headquarters at Millbank Towers where windows were smashed and the property ransacked. As I’m sure you know what happened, instead of bringing you a blow-by-blow account, newsroom style, I am going to instead tackle some of the issues that the riots highlighted.
Firstly, should students really have to pay vast amounts for higher education? Well, there is no doubt that the government needs to cut the deficit. It is hard to imagine that George Osborne woke up one day and decided that increasing tuition fees sounded like a fun initiative. These measures clearly come from necessity, not choice. I think the vast majority of the population would rather students paid more and the NHS budget was not slashed. The government is being forced to prioritise. Yes, a top benchmark of £9,000 a year is very expensive, but it is also amazingly cheap compared to the $50,000+ charged by the leading colleges across the Atlantic. British universities offer a good education and can not be expected to find funds in thin air.
The vandelism shown on the riots was unbelievable and also disappointing. If the protests had remained peaceful and ordered they may have had more of an effect. Instead, a brutal and ridiculous mob demanded fairness, which does not make a lot of sense. Any sympathy from the press was greatly reduced and the protesters turned from hot-headed and impassioned youth into rowdy trouble makers, if not criminals. The saddest part of the situation is how it has potentially permanently ruined the lives of some of those involved. Many young people had not wanted to cause trouble but were simply caught up in the chaos. This is perfectly demonstrated by the case of eighteen year old Edward Woollard, who made the mistake of hurling a fire extinguisher off the seven-story high roof of Millbank Tower, narrowly missing protesters and police officers below. Yesterday he was sentenced to thirty-two months in a youth offender’s institution. The defence described his action as ‘a moment of madness’.
And finally, and in keeping with the apparent theme of this blog, I had better mention Jody McIntyre, who was dragged from his wheelchair twice by police during the protests. Now, you all expect me to be up in arms about this, but I’m not. I do not agree with how the police handled Jody, but nor do I agree with the way he was protesting. He was not violent, but he was hardly peaceful. After the incident, Jody played the part of a vulnerable disabled person. Being disabled myself, I do not think disability always constitutes vulnerability, and Jody’s campaigning hardly supports the image he is trying to portray. Yes, of course he should protest. No, of course he shouldn’t be dragged from his wheelchair. But he should not use his disability. It simply defeats the credibility of his opinions.