Why protest matters

CHAD ALLEN and FLO SWANN defend telling George Osborne to “fuck off”.

aggressive protest cambridge defend education Chad Allen charlie bell conservatives Edmund Burke Flo Swann George Osborne government King's College Liberal Democrats student protest
Flo Swann

I found Charlie Bell’s article to be offensive and obnoxious, but what can we expect from someone whose career involves deliberately upsetting minority groups, experimenting on animals and trying to disrupt CUSU elections? This is just the latest in a string of attempts to smear the democratic student voice as extremist and ‘rude’.

Nobody in their right mind seriously believes that we set out to deliberately ruin the reputation of students who want to learn; the real point is that Osborne is taking away their learning opportunities and their future job opportunities.

In fact ‘poor George’ is actually a wealthy tycoon who has deliberately reduced taxes for himself and the rest of the cabinet of millionaires. Who is paying for this? We are, of course.

We are paying a fortune in bedroom taxes and tuition fees, whilst seeing constant cuts, cuts, cuts. We are having benefits, jobs and EMA stolen away from us.

And why? So that the mega-rich can buy another gold-plated BMW for themselves and their heirs (I notice that they were forced to use gas-guzzling private cars because the public transport funding in Cambridgeshire has been literally decimated).

To stop the evil of this Con/Dem government, we have to do something, indeed anything and everything, to stop them.

That is why the student activists (definition: learners who care about society and want to change it for the better – it’s not hard) will never stop speaking truth to power and will never let these Tory scum destroy the lives of future generations.

That is why we will not give ministers an easy ride when they come to Cambridge.

The truth is that Charlie Bell and his type are stooges for the coalition of millionaires. They might want you to think that they are being sensible, but as always they are implicitly helping the government that they themselves are allegedly committed to opposing.

We all must stand united if we want to bring an end to the everlasting stream of injustices that the government pours out.

So we need to work together if we are going to stop them. Do not let angry, cruel scabs play divide and rule with our cause.

At the end of the day, we might get called “plebs”, “electrocuted foxes” or even worse, but it will take much more than that to stop us. Be warned.

protesters

Electrocuted foxes in their natural habitat

Chad Allen

What actually happened at King’s on Thursday to provoke such a brouhaha? Basically, a politician some college members don’t like attended a conference in King’s and the students protested a bit.

Nobody was hurt, civilisation did not collapse, the University of Cambridge did not instantly drop a dozen places in the QS World University Rankings, the Times Top 100 Graduate employers didn’t all band together and decide to stop headhunting Cambridge graduates, and your gran isn’t suddenly ashamed of where you go to Uni. Some students protested, that’s all.

Rational debate about the state and future of the country is out there if people want to find it. Indeed, there are literally thousands of journalists, politicians, comedians etc. whose entire job is to wittily and insightfully critique governmental policy.

But there is also room for some more visceral anger in our societal discourse. Indeed, given the Chancellor would simply have responded to any well-formed political question with a deflecting soundbyte (if he bothered to respond at all), one could make the argument that expressing this anger is the most productive thing a student protest could do.

Protest – even crude protest – is important. Protest affects the media, protest affects the spin doctors and the PR people, protest affects the swing seat mailshots, protest affects the questions asked by Jeremy Paxman, protest affects the background culture and the parameters of the societal debate; and these things will, in the end, matter more than your worthless vote in our broken democracy.

Yes, a well-argued comment piece in the Telegraph is arguably a more genteel and respectable tool of dissent – but confronting the Chancellor with a big “fuck off” banner will do, especially when you have just hours to organise a protest during the Easter vacation.

For what it’s worth, I am reliably informed by a college source that the German politicians found it all par for the course and nothing out of the ordinary for a conference at a university. This is a high quality institution attended by intelligent and independent students – politicians being told to fuck off is a natural outcome. The Germans understand that active protest is an indication of a healthy democracy – and ours isn’t quite dead yet.

german reaction

Reportedly the reaction of the German politicians

Charlie and the Silent Majority (file that under possible band names) need to chill out and stop being so precious. Protest happens, people swear and bang saucepans. It won’t affect your own job prospects, it won’t destroy the academic reputation of the university (if anything, it may enhance it), and it does actually serve a meaningful purpose in our politics.

So fuck off.

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Think Flo and Chad are wrong and Charlie is right? Think they’re all morons? Whatever your view, whatever the issue, voice your opinion in the Tab’s Debate section. Email [email protected]