Friday, 10 December 2010

Student protests - A police riot?

Guest post by Peter Tatchell

Many police behaved admirably. Others were out of control. Most students were peaceful. A minority were violent. Violence by a relatively small number of protesters does not justify the often indiscriminate, bully-boy methods of some officers.

TV news film showed police baton attacks on peaceful students. Some were battered while they were held on the ground, where they posed no threat. This brutality inflamed other students to violent retaliation. The over-the-top police tactics were often needlessly provocative and incendiary. They contributed to the riotous atmosphere.

The violent demonstrators were ethically wrong and counter-productive – and so too were the violent police who lashed out indiscriminately. Officers faced aggressive provocation by some demonstrators. They had a difficult, sometimes violent, protest to contain. I sympathise. There were protesters who were out for trouble and who committed violent acts. But this does not justify or exonerate police violence. See this apparent example of police brutality against a peaceful protester who was trying to leave the demo. The Independent.

Violence by some students to indiscriminate police attacks was a wrong response, but not a surprising one.

If you were a peaceful, lawful protester and got held in a police cordon for 6+ hours with no food, water or toilets, you’d be angry too. The police tactic of kettling was illegal detention and amounted to the collective punishment of many innocent, peaceful protesters. It made a bad situation worse. This heavy-handed, indiscriminate repression is not how the police should behave in a democracy.

I wonder if the harsh police tactics were designed to intimidate and discourage future protests by making people fearful of injury and arrest? Whatever the truth, police brutality will have the opposite effect. Many protesters now hate the police because of how they were abused. This is a recipe for more violence at future demos.

The Met Police Commissioner’s tactics were flawed. He erred and misjudged. Should he resign?

The student’s cause is a just cause that I support. Education is not a commodity. It should not be for sale. The fee hike and cut to education maintenance grants will discourage young people from poorer backgrounds. Meanwhile the bankers are getting their bonuses again and the government looks set to squander £76 billion on a new generation of Trident missiles. Shame on Cameron and Clegg.

See Also Jane, Cabbages And Kings Green Room and Carolines Speech to students.



A university education is a privilege not a right.

No education comes free - those who want the benefit of a degree should pay for it as opposed to expecting those who lacked the opportunity or intelligence to go to university to cough up their hard earned taxed wages.

Adrian Windisch said...

Life is never so simple. Many don't go to Uni because they did not go to a good school. Its not intelligence but education.

Those now making the decision had free education. They are accused of reducing social mobility. Those who can afford a good school are more likely to have their children in good jobs.

Ailbhe said...

When Prince Charles and David Cameron and Nick Clegg put 27K each in the Treasury for their own educations, I might listen to them...

Ed said...

All three went to private school. I wonder how
much the exchequer benefited from the direct and indirect taxes associated with fees from 4-18 years old.

On another note, at what point do you (Adrian) start to attach any blame for the violence upon the students whose protest provides the pretext for those intent on violence? At any point or at no point? Interested to know your thoughts.


Adrian Windisch said...

I want the very wealthy like Cameron Clegg and Charles to pay far more than £27,000 The rest of us subsidize the rich, I prefer more equality. Look up the equality trust and see for yourself.

As for the violence, the vast majority of students protesting didn't do it, why allow the media and cameron to focus all the attention on to this?

The Greens are against violence, which is why we, unlike the three big parties, are against our soldiers going to Iraq.

So far the small amount of violence seems had been against property, not people. Unfortunately the police have attacked some protesters and the occasional innocent person walking past.

Jonathan said...

I agree that a university education is privilege, not a right. But it is a privilege that should be granted to those with the best A Level results, not to those with the richest parents.

People who go to university should get better jobs as a result, and pay more tax on their higher incomes. That is how it should be paid for. If a particular university course doesn't lead to better jobs for its graduates, then we shouldn't be offering it.

Adrian Windisch said...

Well said Jonathan.

Sean O'Hare said...

Student fee 'savings' will fund windmills in Africa

Great eh?

Adrian Windisch said...

'Most of the world's climate scientists, for reasons unspecified, decided to create a myth about human-induced global warming and have managed to twist endless measurements and computer models to fit their case, without the rest of the scientific community noticing'

Booker seems smarted than most deniers but still he isn't correct.

On another, similar, post he says 'useless wind turbines' making the same mistake as you.

Sean O'Hare said...

You missed out a word from Booker's book title. It is entitled "The Real Global Warming Disaster".

With regard to that Telegraph article by Philip Ball which I did read. It is ironic and total hypocricy for him to slag off Booker for using a "cold snap" to support his case for AGR (anthropogenic global ripoffs) while using a photograph of the Katrina disaster to support his case for MMCC. It is widely acknowledged that there has been no increase in either the occurence or intensity of hurricanes in the Carribean and Gulf of Mexico in the past century.

With regard to wind turbines, let me repeat and clarify:

Wind turbines are useless when the wind doesn't blow or when it blows too strongly. Unfortuntely this is about 50% of the time so we have to maintain fossil fuel powered backup to switch in when required. Either that or take the day off work/freeze to death/sit in the dark. Unfortunately you can't fire up either coal or nuclear power stations at a moments notice so they have to be kept running and the power grounded. I know we buy nuclear powered electricity from France which might be switched on/off as required, but that is just shifting the dreaded nuclear dependence across the channel.

Sean O'Hare said...

I seem to be spending too much time on your blog. Am I getting anywhere? Are you perhaps now even a little bit sceptical. If not perhaps I should just give up and go away.

Adrian Windisch said...

I am skeptical of you. You seem to think the big three parties are far too lefty/green! And you view charities and institutions as crazy when they disagree with you.

On wind turbines, both you and Booker said they are useless. You qualify it saying they wont provide energy all day every day, but you have both made a big error.

For your information no power plant provided 24/7, they all have downtime. Silly to suggest only a single source of power, the more the better. Fossil fuel/nuclear material is limited and will run out, future generations will have to rely on renewables.

We can make things better for future generations by preparing now. You seem to want to drop them in at the deep end after taking all the resources you want from the planet.

weggis said...

@ Sean O'Hare
"With regard to wind turbines, let me repeat and clarify:

Wind turbines are useless when the wind doesn't blow or when it blows too strongly. Unfortuntely this is about 50% of the time so we have to maintain fossil fuel powered backup to switch in when required."

That's why we have a Grid, FFS. The wind DOES blow all the time, just not in the same place.

Ailbhe said...

I would be completely shocked to find that they paid their own school fees. Their parents did that. The taxpayer (which includes their parents and their nanny and their milkman) paid the cost of their university education.

"Rich parents for all," perhaps.

Sean O'Hare said...


The British Isles cover a pretty small area and there are many many days in a year when there is imperceptible amount of wind anywhere. Even if there were the number of these ugly and intrusive things that would be required to make a significant contribution to our energy requirements would completely ruin the landscape for everyone and decimate the bird population. I was planning to move to Broadstairs, Kent after I retired, but cannot do so now because of that hideous monstrosity out at sea. Luckily I got to hear about it before I retired.

As you well know the National Grid is a distribution mechanism not a storage mechanism and therefore completely irrelevant to the argument.


You seem to think the big three parties are far too lefty/green!

Yes I do. Very much so.

you view charities and institutions as crazy when they disagree with you..,

Crazy no. Thieving yes. If they want to spend money voluntarily given them on developing countries that's up to them. It is when they spend money stolen from me in taxes that I object. If I wanted to send money to Africa I could respond to some the spam emails from that king in Nigeria who keeps asking me for it.

no power plant provided 24/7, they all have downtime

Reactors are not shut down very often, maybe once a year at most. Oil, gas and coal fired power stations have several turbines and they aren't all shut down simultaneously. More to the point their maintenance is scheduled to coincide with times of low consumption. Unlike the wind which blows or does not to blow according to the whims of somewhat chaotic weather patterns.

We can make things better for future generations by preparing now.

I am anti wind turbines, but not necessarily anti all forms of renewables. It will be many many decades before fossil fuels become that scarce. This country sits on mountains of coal which would keep the lights on for a century or more. So why is Huhne and co scheming to spend billions of taxpayers money on the least reliable source. If he has to spend my money on renewables I would rather it were used to research tidal and other potentially more reliable sources.

weggis said...

@ Sean O'Hare
Who said anything about storage?
And you think my comment is completely irrelevant.

Agree with you on tidal though. Couple of turbines on the Thames Barrier and bosh!

Sean O'Hare said...


Yes, I misread you on your grid argument. Unless the wind is blowing over the majority of the UK wind turbine feed into the grid is still going to be minimal.

The only worry I have about tidal, such as a Thames or Severn barrier is its effect on wildlife habitat up river. See I do have green concerns too, I just don't think leaping headfirst into wind farms to solve what is very probably a non-existent (AGW) probem is very sensible. We should take our time and do a cost-benefit analysis on each option. But nah! I don't think Huhne would even know what that means.