Friday, 10 December 2010

Students Have Lost Any Public Support They Had

The scenes of protest and destruction in London last night by my fellow students makes me feel ashamed to be honest. Yes, they were angry (and justifiably so) but there is clear evidence to suggest some people attended the march with the specific intention of causing trouble. After all, who routinely carries around baubles filled with paint for protection? What yesterday will be remembered for is not the travesty of the fees rise as it should have been. No, it will be the image of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall looking shocked as their Rolls Royce is attacked by rioters.

At the moment we don't know how many of the protesters were students and how many were thugs looking for a fight. But that won't alter the public perception that we have thrown our toys out of the pram in the most idiotic fashion. If we are the next generation and the future of our country then it's a worrying measure of our intellect that we resort to violence to illustrate our points.

Public support towards students has been thin over the last few weeks as frustrations have mounted. It was clear a while ago that the vote was going to go the Coalition's way. Many members of the public see students as an over-privileged work-shy collective who don't want to pay for their own education. Unfortunately, I agree with them to an extent. Some people expect a free education because their parents had a free education. This ignores public debt, an increase in the number of people going to university and the fate of many graduates in so-called 'softer' subjects. However, the majority of students seem willing to pay fees but aren't happy about the cap trebling in this manner. A lot of the anger is based on the Liberal Democrat pledge. If they hadn't signed that piece of paper these protests would've been a lot more controllable and muted.

Whatever the arguments for and against the fees rise, they've ceased to matter now. We've actually given the Coalition their strongest weapon yet: why should we be allowed to go to university when our reaction to something we don't like is to attack the heir to the throne? The Royal Family are not part of our political system. They deliberately stay out of it and as such they did not deserve to be attacked in that manner.

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