Labour Party,  UK Politics

Police charge protesters at Whitehall #demo2010

As one of the students who got charged on what they called ‘The battle of Westminster Bridge’ way back in 1988, where students were trampled, there’s nothing scarier than mounted police coming at you.

This was posted from the November 24 #demo2010 by someone on YouTube called Massif10: “I wasn’t planning on uploading this, I assumed the BBC would mention it along with their coverage of all the other protests, they haven’t. These protesters are not those who were kettled outside the treasury building, we weren’t allowed in for that, after some kids had started fires and thrown some sticks n junk at the police lines separating us from the main protest they began to move forward.”

Considering we’ve been here before what then is Sir Paul Stephenson, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, talking about when he is quoted by The Guardian saying that the two student demonstrations of the past fortnight had been marred by a previously unseen level of violence and that the game had changed.

“We have been going through a period where we have not seen that sort of violent disorder,” Stephenson said. “We had dealt with student organisers before and I think we based it too much on history. If we follow an intelligence-based model that stops you doing that. Obviously you realise the game has changed. Regrettably, the game has changed and we must act.”

His words seem little more than a pre-justification for any police action to come as a new round of demonstrations and walk outs are planned next week to coincide with the commons vote on tuition fees on Tuesday, which the government is seeking to rush through in an unseemly hurry without a white paper or proper debate.

Gareth Thomas, Labour’s higher education spokesman has said that parliament is being asked to vote to make British universities some of the most expensive and worst-funded in the world without being allowed to consider in full:

“Too many questions remain unanswered. That is unacceptable and I hope Liberal Democrat MPs and other MPs will join our call for the government to reconsider.”

Nick Clegg has proved himself too shame faced to say if he will abstain. While Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, says he is still deliberating with his fellow MPs over how to vote. His office was occupied along with a number of university buildings some of which are still on going.

And what of Ed Miliband? Is it just me or is he proving himself to be a quite the ditherer? He comes out and tells us he is proud to be a socialist and considered joining the student protest, but was “doing something else”. As for future protests he will “see what happens”. I’m inspired. He must have been busy meditating on his brand of “Zen socialism”, which Jackie Ashley wrote about earlier this week.

She rightly said in that piece that Labour “was kicked out because it stopped listening” and that “people want to know if it’s noticed, and is really ready to learn lessons”. Ashely said that Miliband has to persuade he has noticed this. He won’t do that by telling them he’s too busy to even to meet.

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