Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kettling the kids

The UK government is currently trying to balance its budget by shifting costs onto the young, through a trebling of university fees. This will prevent many kids from poor families from going to university, and they're not happy about it. High school and university students walked out of their classes across the UK today in protest, marching in the streets and occupying university buildings (usually with the support of staff). Deputy Prime Minister David Clegg was hung in effigy outside The Guardian offices, where he was due to speak. In London, the students tried to march on Parliament, but the police, having learned nothing from last year's G20 protests and still locked in a mindset which sees the public as the enemy and protest as sedition which must be violently suppressed, kettled them. Thousands of children were trapped in the freezing cold for hours, denied their freedom of speech and their freedom of movement. The result was entirely predictable: broken windows, fires, a vandalised police van, and more than a dozen arrests for violent disorder.

That's the thing about kettles: they raise the temperature and pressure. That's why both the Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the UK's Independent Police Complaints Commission recommended the tactic be discontinued. The London police have ignored those recommendations. And they have only themselves to blame for the results.