Lunatics Take Over The Asylum

13 11 2010

We at A.C.A.B decided to sit on this one a while, the story of how a peacful demo of 50,000 students and lecturers protesting against tuition fee hikes and education funding cuts turned into a riot. There are enough accounts of what happened at conservative party HQ and anyway, none of us were there, right? Your Author came home from work, and switched on the TV to find a red and black flag flying from the roof of Tory Party HQ. Shit, I thought, the revolution has happened and I’ve bloody missed it, bloody wage slavery! Here we are going to attempt to analyze the media reaction and aftermath of the days events.

What is abundantly clear from the reporting is that the media have put a lot of time into separating the siege and occupation of 30 Millbank from the organised march and separating the “Anarchists” from pretty much the rest of society. Strange isn’t it, all this time the Sun and the daily Mail have referred to anarchists as Middle class sponging students and now suddenly they are infiltrating middle class sponging student, make your mind up!

The official stance of the NUS is that they believe a small minority of “trouble makers” hijacked the march and this detracted from the main peaceful demo. Some claim that this put the media focus on the “violence” rather than the politics. Utter nonsense, as mentioned by an individual from Whitechapel Anarchist Group when interviewed, if it wasn’t for what happened the demo would unlikely have received much if any press attention. Instead the extent of peoples anger of the cuts and the Lib Dems U-turn has been front page news for days and sent a message right across the world that the people are angry and organised.

For an interesting perspective of the day visit this LibDem’s blog, good for a laugh. I enjoy the quote: “Having made my way from the rear of the protest to the front and then on to Trafalgar Square, I was certain of two things. One, with my Lib Dem t-shirt, rosette and placard I felt highly conspicuous and vulnerable. Two, the Lib Dem group was nowhere to be seen and the SWP seemed to have newspaper salesmen everywhere.”

The media also dusted off a word that has not been given much of an airing for awhile “Anarchists” and were quick to find poster boys and girls to back this up. That’s right it was all the Anarchists fault, they infiltrated the march and used their mind tricks to convince those poor helpless students to ransack a building. The UK is not the only place where this word has reappeared as anti-cuts actions sweep across the pond. Let’s be in no doubt, there were Anarchists present. AFed, Class War, WAG and others have all stated they were present and one BBC report suggests European affinity groups were there and came close to praising their organised movements and communication.

The media see Anarchists as separate from everyone else, they seem to think they are only there for a ruck and not to further the anti-cuts message, they conveniently forget than Anarchism is a political view point. Our sources on the inside (as in inside the building) reliably inform us that the vast majority of those taking direct action were students and even most of the masked-up activists were not anarchists. Let us not forget though that it is possible to be a student and an Anarchist. Also that you can be angry enough to smash up a symbolic target of your anger and not be an anarchist. The daily mail for some reason claimed animal rights activists were present at the demo, playing on recent news articles about SHAC activist but just making it sound like activists should take on one issue and stick to it or be branded rent-a-mob.

In an interview with a Guardian reporter (think it was the deputy editor, I forget) on the BBCs Breakfast show she refers to the trouble makers as a “Lunatic Fringe” saying “it’s this lunatic fringe like the people who make socialist worker placards…” Though we may be in agreement that making SW placards probably does make you a lunatic what are Anarchists? Psychopaths?

The real concern here is that the media coverage of the Facebook generation was cringe-worthy. Hundreds of unmasked, unprepared students taking part in criminal damage then posing to get their photos taken. News reports and those from our insiders say it descended into an episode of Skins with everyone taking photos of each-other being naughty for them to load onto facebook. David Cameron, Boris Johnson and the Pigs have said in no uncertain terms that they will come down hard on these people (and not because of their oversized brightly coloured trainers and flannel shirts, although maybe they should). Many of these individuals are not activist, they don’t know what to do if they get arrested and as a result many will face harsh charges. Our main concern is that the spineless NUS will hand over their membership database to the cops. A list of every student in the UK with their name, contact details and a copy of their photograph.

The fire extinguisher incident could lead to charges of attempted murder. On a personal capacity I condemn the actions of that individual and we hear from our rooftop correspondent that the others with him did too choosing to leave as a group before the police arrived. I think Ian Bone sums up the reality of this act well. “The throwing of the fire extinguisher was a fucking stupid and recklessly dangerous act.It could equally easily have killed a student as a copper.If it had killed a copper it would also have killed the protest movement dead”. However the witch hunt that has now ensued with a right wing blog offering a reward for the name of the guy who did it and the tabloids targeting other individuals is a worrying sign.

People have asked our opinion on the damage to property and injuries to Police. As far as we are concerned the damage to the building was a completely acceptable way to show anger of the cuts and we at ACAB hope to see much more of it. When is comes to injuries to Police though the author does not like the idea of anyone getting hurt, in a situation like this it was inevitable. The cops are aware of the dangers their jobs entail and lets remember who the ones were with metal batons are!

Millbank was not the only target of direct action on the day and a good account of the day is available here.

I want to leave on a comment by an activist interviews by the Guardian newspaper. “This is nothing, this is a spark, but it is important for people to see that they can do something, that they are not totally powerless.”



3 responses

15 11 2010

Just as well the NUS doesn’t have direct membership database except for people who buy NUS extra cards.

Because individual student unions affiliate rather than individuals ‘joining’. It isn’t that centralised.

15 11 2010

Thanks for the info on that, still all universities have a list of their students so it’s still a worry. The bigger wory is people showing off and tagging themselves of facebook!

15 11 2010
Action Roundup 8th-14th Novermber « Anti Cuts Action Bristol & Bath

[…] deal with. Then of course the march became an occupation of tory party HQ with window smasing down. Our report Half decent guardian article AFED Report of the […]

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