Disclaimer: This piece was originally posted on the Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) blog on the 10th December 2010.
Right, I’m not going to really focus directly upon the vote today on tuition fees, enough has been mentioned upon that area recently. Yes, it is disgrace it passed, but what is arguably a bigger disgrace, is the violence that ensued in the capital today.
If you want to change a government’s opinion and policies, the biggest asset you could ever have to achieve this, is public support. We still have that support (well at least a few weeks ago), with 60% opposing the trebling of fees. But as I was discussing with BULS’ Former-Fresher Officer, Dan Harrison on Facebook, he pointed out that the police had in a unprovoked manner and started the aggressive attacks.
Now, this may well have happened (can’t completely say as I’ve been safe in Brum) and it is certainly something that can not be condoned. But, fighting fire with fire just results in, well….more fire. Two wrongs don’t make a right and most importantly of all, don’t stoop to their level. But, there’s something far more important. If, the police had acted in this way and the students had continued to protest peacefully, the whole news the next morning would’ve focused upon the police’s violence and public sympathy would have begun to swing behind the students. This would have been in very much the same way public and international sympathy swung behind Martin Luther King’s peaceful demonstrations in the 1960s. But what everyone will remember is the burning of rubbish tips, the first police cavalry charge in around twenty years, the attack on the Treasury building and the Supreme Court and the iconic photo of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s car being attacked on the way to the Royal Variety show.
If anything, if the police where acting inappropriately, this would have aided the student’s cause. What has happened is that the chances of the government reconsidering the hike in tuition fees have now diminished.