Saturday, 13 November 2010

Clegg's Spineless Betrayal

It was inevitable that the coverage of the student demonstration in London would focus on the riot at the Tory party hq, and thereby deny the students the chance to debate their cause more publicly. I was in Millbank, where thousands of young protesters passed by me, usually in their college groups, in many cases accompanied by what I took to be their lecturers. Remember that the event was jointly organized by the NUS and the UCU - the professional association for academics, lecturers, and related staff.

From my viewpoint, and if the claimed 52,000 attendees is correct, fewer than 1,000 were in the forecourt of Millbank Tower, and later inside the building. The vast majority were in good spirits, chanting their message with passion, and debating with whoever would listen. Apart from any rioters who subsequently appear in court, the most damaged person and party has to be Nick Clegg and the LibDems. Thousands of individual placards expressed the anger felt at his betrayal. The Lib Dems fought the general election promising to scrap tuition fees, with Clegg himself, at a photo-op, saying

"I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative"

That is pretty unequivocal: no doubt about what he meant. The morning after the demonstration Clegg admitted on tv he “should have been more careful” when he signed that pledge. I don't think he meant that as an apology.

Many more photos from the demonstration are here:

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