It’s the day after and some Lib Dems are still standing. It seems someone was on hand with a knife to cut the nooses and drag each and every one of them into parliament to make them actually vote. The vote passed, but only just. Around half of the liberals rebelled, voting against, with a handful abstaining. It is sad that they felt they had to oppose it, given that it is generally agreed by any independent body that studies the figures that this is a much more progressive bill than the current state of affairs, but then those protesting outside weren’t interested in such frivolous things as ‘facts’.
I was watching from Prague as the vote came in, rather thankful to have found BBC World on my hotel TV set. The BBC were flicking between the inside of the commons, packed to the gills, and parliament square, even more crammed. In the segment I saw they were interviewing a student who was claiming that it was the police who’d been provoking the confrontations. Fair enough, I can understand that. But then they went to a gentleman beside him, an English Teacher, who said that this bill ‘brought in by millionaires’ was damning his students to pay 30 quid a week, a sum poor families couldn’t afford.
This statement alone shows the amount is disinformation floating around the minds of the protesters. No-one is going to be made to pay up-front. They will pay back their fees when they begin earning over 21k – when they can afford it. The concept of making higher earners pay more is a LEFT policy, not a RIGHT one. A lot of students who fail to get high earning jobs will never be made pay back the full cost of their loans. Why? Because if you can’t afford to, you won’t be made to.
But such logic was beyond the British public gathered in London yesterday. There were calls to “bring down the neo-liberal state”, though what they wanted to replace it with I can’t imagine. Labour? A bunch who brought in detention without charge and invaded Iraq? Yes, I guess they were much nicer, let’s usher them in!
What was most tragic was the sense of doom in the crowd. You would think the legislation being passed was to end education entirely, rather than ask students to contribute once they begin earning. “They have voted away our futures,” one said whilst being interviewed by the BBC. What utter nonsense. Perhaps they’ve voted away a trip to the pub, or a takeout tikka-masala, or whatever 7 pounds a week would have bought you. That’s not your future.
It sounds like I’m anti-protest, but I’m not. I’ve been on quite a few protests in my time, it’s just they were over strong moral issues like war, nuclear armourment, or infringement of civil liberties. This is an issue over how to finance a service through difficult times. Something to debate about, sure. Something to write to your MP about, definitely. Something to get into a scrap with the police over? Er.. not really. It’s embarrassing how selfish our students have behaved. Utterly, utterly embarrassing.
Oh, and any who claim to be anarchists who attended the protest: anarchism is about freedom from the state, ie. Universities being free to charge for their services, and civilians being free from taxation to pay for services they don’t support (in an anarcho-commune universities would be funded through charitable donations). Clearly these numbskulls think anarchism is about kicking in a window. Idiots.