Millbank riots, student fees: it’s all just one damn thing after another…
Oh, the wanton destruction. The vandalism. The complete disregard for law and order. God, how I wish I’d been there.
Let’s dispel some of the nonsense that is being regurgitated ad nauseum in the media at the moment: First of all, the attack on Millbank didn’t detract from the ‘issues’. If you don’t already know what the issues are then you’re simply not interested and no amount of marching up and down the country’s roads and thoroughfares will change that.
Secondly, demonstrations are not terribly nuanced affairs. Communicating the complexity of an issue on a A3 sized banner and a chant of 6 to 8 words that also has to rhyme, is just not possible.
Thirdly demonstrations are not always (or only) about raising the public profile of a grievance; they’re about the expression of anger. Plain and simple. And smashing up Tory Grand Central Station seems to me a perfectly understandable expression of anger under the circumstances.
Finally, the chances that any ‘issue’ will get a proper public airing through the media is remote whether you smash a few windows or not. Listen to the clip below. It’s an encounter between Clare Solomon from the ULU and Tory MP Roger Gale on Thursday’s (11 November 2010) Jeremy Vine radio show on BBC Radio 2. It illustrates perfectly how difficult it is to conduct a rational discussion about anything through the mainstream media.
When Solomon makes the point that a progressive tax system would adequately fund students in higher education (one that doesn’t allow companies like Vodaphone to dodge £6 billion tax bill), Jeremy Vine tells her that the conversation is ‘ranging a bit far’. ‘We can’t do the whole problems of the world here’, he says, trying to steer the conversation back to the events at Millbank. And therein lies the problem of trying to advance any issue through the media, and news programmes in particular. The news seldom offers the sort of context that might make any event comprehensible. Instead we are treated to a series of largely discreet happenings and pronouncements, the effect of which is to present the world out there as just one damn thing after another.
Isn’t Roger Gale an odious, patronising toad? Meanwhile Paul O’Grady just keeps rising in my estimation…