Students staged nationwide demonstrations across the UK on Wednesday 24 November 2010. London’s students protested close to the Prime Minister’s home in Whitehall after violent scenes at the Conservative Party head quarters a few weeks earlier. These are undoubtedly the most violent protests seen in the UK since the poll tax riots in 1990.
As the economic crisis continues to bite, the public reaction around the world also continues to grow in ferocity. The violent scenes against government austerity measures have gradually grown, appearing in Europe with the most recent being the student protests in the UK.
Despite the students’ efforts this new demonstration is unlikely to change the government’s plans which will lead to a hike in university fees and the planned cutting of the education maintenance allowance (EMA). These new measures mean it will cost students tens of thousands of pounds to go to university, while the most prestigious universities will be able to charge extortionate fees ensuring higher education and consequently the best jobs become the preserve of the wealthy.
These new government measures are claimed to be necessary in order to overcome the economic crisis, which apparently still threatens to destroy many countries around the world. However, this assertion has confused many since not only has the government continued to spend billions on foreign invasions but also has recently agreed to give a £7 billion bailout to Ireland. In addition to demonstrating against these measures the students also hope to hold to account the Liberal democrats, the party many students voted for because of its election pledge to prevent a rise in tuition fees. Not only are these measures an extraordinary betrayal but will also change the face of western education dramatically.
This is not the first time that calls from the public have been swatted away without pretence of negotiation. The 2003 UK demonstration against the invasion in Iraq attended by around a million people was another such statement from the public expressing a complete lack of support for the invasion.
Secular democracies laud the view that as the representatives of the public, it is incumbent upon the government to acknowledge the public’s view. However this vision is a mirage.
The reality behind the vision shows that western government’s have little need for the public other than for putting a cross in the ballot box once every five years or so. It is clear that above the views of the public the government has bigger priorities such as fulfilling interests in the Muslim world, in controlling increasing areas of the globe to maintain their access to resources and to ensure any rising of opposition is crushed. Furthermore the right to education has fallen foul to a boom and bust economy which depends on big business and banks to function.
Capitalism and democracy has created a toxic mixture for the ordinary person where not only are their views rarely taken into account but the capitalist system ensures that corporations are always protected at the expense of public jobs, homes and now education.