Declan Clancy

DECLAN CLANCY goes to a protest and breaks into Senate House: “We’ve probably disturbed lunch. It appears no one really knows what to do now. Someone get the whiteboard out.”

anarchy david cameron lib dems lunch box Rosa Parks sandwich sixth form student protests

Does the fact that The Tab may be turning into an elaborate in-joke for about 60 people at this University mean that we can’t go and report some proper frontline news? Intrepid reporter Declan Clancy and trusty cameraman and veteran student campaigner David ‘Rosa Parks’ Douglas-Pennant, set off after lunch to see what all the fuss,which had woken us up in Emma so rudely half an hour earlier, was about.

‘Protest…Has anybody seen a Protest round here?’

Rumour had it that they were now at Senate House. As we get there, the crowd is actually pretty big. About 100 people I’d say, being whipped up by a rather flimsy-looking character in thick glasses standing on a pedestal. Most people here seem a bit young actually?

‘Year 12s, Jenna and Melissa, wagging off school’

Shit, half of Long Road Sixth Form appears to be on this protest. Most of them are wagging it, although one lad, ‘Dane’, tells us that his politics teacher told them if they wanted to go protesting he’d mark them in. He did also tell me that his cousin had already dropped out of her course “‘cos she’s worried about the rise in fees”. Not quite sure she got the right end of the stick. It is cracking to see the enthusiasm though. Imagine a lot of others may have just taken their protests to the pub, but the younger ones do give it a more jovial atmosphere. The Conga train doesn’t seem to go down too well with some of the proper political people here though.

‘Great, gives me an excuse to get my baton out then’

The policeman said joyfully, tense with excitement. He’s got that classic dick-ish sense of over-importance. Obviously just wants to cave a skull in. These are mostly kids, you prick. We see one rozzer headlock a very disgruntled protester. He was one of the first over the Senate House gate, but his radical edge is somewhat softened by the fact that he has a satchel. We go talk to some more of the Five-0. They won’t answer questions about what they think about the cuts. Not even the ones with kids. One of them does suggest that there may be a couple of ‘undercovers’ in the crowd who have been with the protest from the start, feeding the police information. It does seem a little heavy-handed seeing as the only crime we’ve observed so far is some underage smoking.

‘Hula Hoop? Why the fuck has she got a hula hoop?’

Other novelty items include a man who has brought his saxophone. I bet they don’t have men with saxophones in London. They’ve probably laid the Commons under siege or something by now. But wait – on second thoughts, what’s this guy getting out of his bag? Is it a flare? A smoke bomb? The packed lunch is an anti-climax.

‘Juan’s on the pedestal! He says the afterparty is in Fez. The Rozzers have given him two bottles of Tequila and a table’

Actually meet some Cambridge students. They say it’s the only the start of the fight. There is a bizarre atmosphere developing, wavering between frivolity (mainly supplied by sixth formers), and over-dramatic statements emanating from those standing on the pedestals with megaphones. Is purple hair a compulsory requirement for membership of the Student Communist Party? Even though I do agree with them being here, and respect what they are doing, it’s a bit cringe when someone shouts down a megaphone that somehow this is connected with the Iraq War. Even the lad next to me with the Anarchist flag feels that that link might be a little tenuous.

‘The grass really is greener on the other side’

I go for it over the fence into Senate House; everybody else has by now. Worried about someone Patridge-esque getting stuck on a spike. The police aren’t even stopping people going over. Some of the chancellors appear to have come out to have a look but no one is approaching them. We’ve probably disturbed lunch. It appears no one really knows what to do now. One of the megaphone-wielders declares that now ‘we need to work out what we want’. Not the greatest call to arms. Someone get the whiteboard and the markers out, and let’s work out why we’re here.

Fuck that, let’s just make up some more chants about Clegg getting bummed.

One protester takes it up the bum