This is a guest post by Tom Beasley. Go here to read more by him.
So yesterday, I was at DEMO-lition 2010, the massive demonstration organised by the NUS and UCU in order to protest the ridiculous cuts to the education budget and hikes in tuition fees proposed by the coalition government.
As anyone who has come within earshot of the news over the last 24 hours will know, the peaceful protest was overshadowed by a splinter group of the protesters storming the Tory headquarters at Millbank tower. The media coverage has, as you would expect, focused on this aspect of the story, despite the fact that it wasn’t even nearly as sensational as they said it was.
If you believe every aspect of the media coverage, then what happened was the protesters marched past Millbank, then dived in and started smashing shit up and lighting fires. I was there at the very beginning of it all and the protesters who stormed Millbank were a tiny number of the tens of thousands there.
In fact, 95% of the protesters had no idea what had happened at Millbank until they saw the news. Whilst a comparatively small group of protesters surrounded Millbank, the rest of the demonstration continued to march to the end of the route. So for the media (specifically our good friends at the Mail) to call the demo a “tuition fees riot” is ridiculous and misleading.
To be fair to the media, most networks did mention that the violence was down to a minority, but this information was only briefly stated in a voiceover put over images of violence and criminal damage. That’s not the way to do it.
Reports suggest that there were 50,000+ people demonstrating yesterday and for the work of so many to be destroyed by the violence of so few is grossly unacceptable.
When I started writing this piece, I intended it to be a critique of the general media coverage, but some of the quotes from the Mail article are too good to avoid.
“Militants from far-Left groups whipped up a mix of middle-class students and younger college and school pupils into a frenzy, setting off the most violent student unrest Britain has seen in decades.”
OMG! THOSE MILITANT FAR-LEFT STUDENTS! FUCKING LIBERALS SMASHING OUR SHIT!
Honestly! Criticise the violent protesters all you like; you probably should. But please do not turn this into an attack on the political left in general. If you were interested in actually reporting the news instead of just sensationalising the actions of a tiny minority, then you would be a far better publication.
In fact, if you were a better publication, then maybe we wouldn’t have had so many idiots voting the fucking Tories in. Then shit like this wouldn’t happen. The reason it happened is that people are angry. People are angry because the politicians that charmed this country before the election are protecting the rich and crucifying those from less privileged backgrounds with brutal education cuts and crippling tuition fees.
If Cameron cared one iota about this country, then he would learn from DEMO-lition and from Millbank and sort his priorities out. A good education for all? My arse!