Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Yesterday was the day. A student protest at the possibility of raising the cap for university fees from approximately £3,000 to £9,000 (that's right my American friends, British students are bitching at having to possibly pay $12,000 a year for University, that is how spoilt we are) quickly turned violent. Police, who have been criticised by all sort of victims groups for their "harsh" treatment of rioters in previous protests, decided (understandably) not to step in, and Tory HQ was destroyed by a relatively small mob (I say relatively, it was still well over 500 people), but a small mob who was being cheered by a large amount of people nearby.
Obviously this is completely obscene. The police should have had the ability to wade in, tear gas the entire place and start swinging batons. They have a duty to defend those people who wish to go about their daily business without being attacked by a bunch of middle class communists. However, Britain has completely castrated its police, so we have only ourselves to blame that it ended up being police officers who were being carried out bleeding and injured, and not the ones causing the trouble.
However, what is the most interesting thing about this is how the protesters and rioters view themselves. They seem to think of themselves as some sort of freedom fighters, fighting for the "rights" of their fellow students, and for freedom against "the tyranny". However, they are quite the opposite. In their claim for "free education", they are not arguing for any such thing. There is no free education, the only question is who bears the brunt of the cost - those who receive the education and the primary benefits, or those who do not receive the education, and who might only possibly receive some sort of secondary benefit?
All conservatives are asking is that people bear the cost of their own education. They make the decision to do something, therefore they must pay for it. If they cannot afford to, then there are a number of ways to get round this, from loans to bursaries to part time jobs and part time studying. The question is ultimately not one of "How much should education cost?" because the price does not change - the only question is "Who pays for it?"
Of course the ultimate irony is that if those students who took a day of from University to travel to London and trash private property chose instead to get a part-time job and work on those free days, then they would be in a much better position financially then they are currently!