Monday, December 13, 2010

Riots, Fire, Anger at Tuition Fees Protest – and a Defining Political Moment

It was the perceived assault on university education that brought thousands of young people to the streets of the capital on Thursday. On previous days it had been economic policy. Tomorrow, it will be the decision to abolish the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for teenagers from poor backgrounds.

What has triggered this change? For years, the young have been dismissed as apathetic. What has happened to make tens of thousands of them pour on to the streets in the bitter cold – not once, but again and again; not just in London, but in Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds? What has sparked the re-emergence of student occupations in lecture theatres across the country? What is it about the coalition government and its policies that has ignited so much anger?

Shiv Malik, co-author of the book Jilted Generation: How Britain Has Bankrupted Its Youth, says the under-thirties feel betrayed – sold out in favour of their parents and grandparents. Fees, he argue, are just one part of the jigsaw. The 29-year-old took to the streets himself on Thursday, and was injured after being hit by a police baton. He argues that most of the protesters were not anarchists or socialists but young people whose instinct to revolt had been awakened for the first time.'


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