The gulf between what happened on student protests and what is reported by the mainstream media is reaching absurd proportions.
On 9 December march everyone could the utterly contemptible behaviour of the police. But rather than focus on that, or on the fact that a Bill to make higher education all but off-limits to poorer students was passed in Parliament by those who got their education for free, the media decided that the real problem was the protesters having the temerity to stand up to the government’s ideological marketisation of and cuts to higher education.
A little jeering and paint-throwing around the car of Charles and Camilla got most attention. The profligate royal benefit claimants were treated with special deference and fanfare by the mainstream media.
Twenty year old Alfie Meadows had to have emergency surgery for bleeding on the brain after being hit on the head with a police truncheon, but the mainstream media did not highlight that.
The police claimed there were responding to student violence. But the police went for “kettling” peaceful protesters into small areas — denying them the freedom of movement — long before the claimed student violence.
After police had surrounded students for nine hours in Whitehall two weeks previously, many protesters were obviously unwilling to be denied their basic human rights of freedom of movement and access to food and water for another nine hours without a fight.
A great deal of the police violence was caught on mobile-phone cameras.
As night fell on Parliament Square, the reinforced police lines continued to deny protesters the right to go home. Students huddled around makeshift fires in order to keep warm. From the windows of MPs’ offices, the fires were seen as another “act of vandalism”, despite the temperature dropping close to zero.
The atmosphere amongst the protesters themselves was comradely and cordial. But there was a justified anger, not just at the ideological cuts to education, but at the cuts to all services and jobs. Dotting the skyline were an abundance of literate and imaginative slogans painted onto homemade signs.
Governments across Europe are attempting to introduce sweeping austerity measures with the intention of making workers and students pay for a crisis they had nothing to do with. And the Allied Irish Bank will be paying its employees bonuses of 40 million euros, despite the costs of its previous profiteering having reduced the Irish state to debt-bondage at the hands of the European Union and the IMF.
It was 11 o’clock on Thursday evening before demonstrators were finally allowed to go home, nine hours after being entrapped by the police in Parliament Square. Despite the almost uniformly dishonest reporting from bourgeois media outlets, those who were at the protest are fully aware who the real instigators of the violence were. No amount of duplicity will wipe from our minds the images of mounted police officers bearing down on teenagers with truncheons.
Workers and students will not pay for the crisis of the rich! Nor will we sit back and let the media and the police frighten us out of using our right to protest..
The 9 December march on Parliament Square was not the end. It was just the end of the beginning.