Friday, December 10, 2010

The Peasants are Revolting

I am, frankly, exhausted. Having spent the earlier part of the week struggling with the triple threat of working late in my 'day job' in order to catch up with the time I lost attending a pointless course last month, battling a persistent cold and shopping for a Christmas present for one of my great nieces, I'm now utterly knackered. Of course, just trying to stay warm for most of this week was exhausting in itself. All in all, I can barely summon sufficient energy to write a proper post. However, there was one bright spot this week which perked me up considerably - namely the latest round of student protests in London. It really is good to see some people in this country finally embracing the idea of 'direct action' to oppose manifestly unfair and oppressive government legislation. In the past, mass protests only seem to have been mobilised when the middle classes feel their wallets threatened - the protests against fuel duty, for instance. It really did seem that you could infringe the great British public's civil liberties with ID cards and surveillance without protest, but make it more expensive to fill up the tanks of their BMWs and four wheel drives, the God help you!

Mind you, critics of the student protests would point out that they're really about the same thing - predominantly middle-class students protesting at the fact that the government's proposals will hit them in the bank account. Whilst there undoubtedly an element of truth in this analysis, unlike the fuel protests, these latest student protests at least have some kind of principle as their basis - the concept of fair access to higher education. And so what if the bulk of the protesters are middle-class? It's about bloody time that they realised that they aren't exempt from the pain inflicted by the dismantling of the public sector instituted by this government. What got all the headlines, obviously, was the attack on Prince Charles' car. Now, whilst I have nothing against Prince Charles, as Royals go, he isn't too bad, and I obviously don't condone violence or the destruction of property, I have to admit that there's a part of me that is very glad that he was targeted. The establishment of which the Prince is part will never properly understand the inequalities that still exist, and that are being exacerbated by this government's policies, and the anger they generate, until they come face-to-face with it. They can't be allowed to think that these protests are an isolated phenomena - part of a world from which they are insulated by their wealth, privilege and power, and which they can afford to ignore. To coin a phrase - 'we're all in this together'.

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