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The worst riots since...1990?
December 9, 2010 11:15 PM   Subscribe

Protesters clashed with police and attacked Prince Charles's limousine as riots raged in the heart of London after MPs voted to triple university tuition fees. Video's here.
posted by QueerAngel28 (193 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am a bit confused. The riot story was posted today in the news, and on the web, however I found this, and it's dated tenth of November. This if the first I've heard of it. Also, my searching of MeFi didn't find a double post.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:20 PM on December 9, 2010


"It is not unreasonable to ask those who are lucky enough to go to university to contribute to the costs," Clegg said.

It's not like there is any economic benefit to the nation for subsidizing education, amirite? If only we were all so "lucky" as to pay $15k/year for the possibility of future employment. Christ, what an asshole. This austerity bullshit is so fucking backwards.
posted by mek at 11:34 PM on December 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


I am a bit confused.

There has been more than one protest. Your link is to the first, outside Tory HQ on Millbank (down the road from Parliament).
posted by greycap at 11:37 PM on December 9, 2010


A 15 year old student in Britain's speech.
posted by Corduroy at 11:38 PM on December 9, 2010 [14 favorites]


Nick Clegg in 47 seconds.
posted by creeky at 11:39 PM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


On thier way to theatre.
posted by clavdivs at 11:39 PM on December 9, 2010


I was there. I was part of a large, dispersed, peaceful crowd of people milling around doing not much on Millbank. In fact, I was actually talking to a mounted police officer asking very politely if I could please leave, when the line of riot police ran straight at us yelling, while the horses themselves charged. I was physically forced backwards into a protest I did not want to be part of; luckily I and a female student (I'm an academic) spotted a weak point in the chain and successfully slipped past a weak cop - my male colleague didn't make it, and was forced back along Millbank to Parliament Square, against his will, and forced to stay there with a crowd of angry people who'd been stuck there for HOURS (for no reason - a planned march route had been blocked). And yet, as always, the reportage isn't about the innocent people turned scared and confused and angry, but about some breakaway groups who committed violence. perhaps if hundreds of riot police weren't busy kettling us, they could have actually, you know, policed the few dangerous people? I saw no effort made WHATSOEVER to arrest or remove the handful of people who were commiting acts of vandalism; kettle, terrify, subdue seemed to be the only tactic.
posted by AFII at 11:39 PM on December 9, 2010 [108 favorites]


With as much news as I consume, Greycap, I can't believe I missed it until now.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:41 PM on December 9, 2010


Austerity builds character! And who needs an "economy" or "jobs" or "feed" when you've got character?
posted by delmoi at 11:47 PM on December 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


There's been a series of protests, QueerAngel28, of which the first and latest have been the most violent.

The police seem to have been mind-bogglingly stupid about Prince Charles, going some distance out of their way to create out of nothing exactly the kind of danger they were supposed to avoid, and then being completely incapable of managing it.
posted by Segundus at 11:53 PM on December 9, 2010


'Action at Tyne Bridge'
posted by clavdivs at 11:54 PM on December 9, 2010


Tripling tuition? You're doing it wrong. Please UK, stop following America's example.
posted by Marla Singer at 12:10 AM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


"It is not unreasonable to ask those who are lucky enough to go to university to contribute to the costs."

"It is not unreasonable to ask those who are lucky enough to go to university to pay those costs by taking on debt."

"It is not unreasonable to for those costs to increase as the government gradually withdraws support for higher education."

"It is not unreasonable to ask those who are lucky enough to go to university to take on large amounts of debt. After all, they'll pay it back with higher wages"

"It is not unreasonable that those born without wealth and power should become indentured servants to those who have. "
posted by ennui.bz at 12:46 AM on December 10, 2010 [54 favorites]


So: Prince Charles is a police van now? Have I got that right?
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:07 AM on December 10, 2010


No, if he was a police van he would have been protected by schoolgirls.
posted by Segundus at 1:12 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Every time I read about people being kettled, particularly non-violent individuals who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am in no way a violent person, but after hours of being kettled at Bank in London in 2009, I honestly wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy.
posted by shoepal at 1:16 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoops. Munged that sentence. "I am in no way a violent person, but after hours of being kettled at Bank in London in 2009, I wanted to throw a brick through a window myself."
posted by shoepal at 1:18 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wow, just imagine the rage levels that must have been required to provoke an attack on the beloved Prince Charles!
posted by No-sword at 1:20 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Shoepal: to me that's the really insidious thing about kettling - it seems deliberately designed to create protests that are only attended by hardcore protestors, and at which there's a greater chance of violence. And in fact Boris (I think) said a few years ago that peaceful protestors should stay away from a particular protest, because there was going to be trouble. People like me, who want to protest peacefully, are strongly discouraged from doing so: I'll be honest, I don't have the guts to spend hours kettled (my anxiety and fear of crowds would kick in). Only those who really, passionately believe in the cause, or who really want to cause trouble, will turn up. It's a classic divide and rule move, split the moderate supporters from the hardcore and then paint the hardcore as nothing but troublemakers.

But I don't know what to do about it. Even if I just go to the area to bear witness, I fear running into the same problem as AFII - being treated as part of a protest that I'm not part of.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:39 AM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


(Just to be clear, I absolutely intend to go back, and back, and back. I will not let our streets me the domain only of the violent few).
posted by AFII at 1:41 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Marla Singer: "Tripling tuition? You're doing it wrong. Please UK, stop following America's example"

It's a graduate tax. For various reasons it's being called a loan but if you look at the way it's structured it's clearly a graduate tax.

No repayments are required until income hits 21k (indexed against inflation) which happens to be the median income, repayments scale with income so that the rich pay more than those who only just break the threshold, any remaining debt is written off at a break point X years after the original loan (20? 30? I can't remember). The only difference between this and a graduate tax is that it's legal status as a loan means that it can be applied to students from elsewhere in the EU who come to study in the UK.

Now whether you think students should be taxed more in the future than non-students is a whole other argument, but this setup bears very little relation to the US student loan disaster.
posted by pharm at 1:42 AM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Attacking the heir to the throne's carriage is a fine London tradition. Best bit of reporting I've seen so far is the redoubtable Paul Mason:
Any idea that you are dealing with Lacan-reading hipsters from Spitalfields on this demo is mistaken.

While a good half of the march was undergraduates from the most militant college occupations - UCL, SOAS, Leeds, Sussex - the really stunning phenomenon, politically, was the presence of youth: bainlieue-style youth from Croydon, Peckam, the council estates of Islington.

Having been very close to the front line of the fighting, on the protesters side, I would say that at its height - again - it broke the media stereotype of being organised by "political groups": there was an anarchist black bloc contingent, there were the socialist left groups - but above all, again, I would say the main offensive actions taken to break through police lines were done by small groups of young men who dressed a lot more like the older brothers of the dubsteppers.
posted by Abiezer at 1:51 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


It isn't a graduate tax because rich kids who are supported by their parents at university won't have to pay it.
posted by communicator at 1:52 AM on December 10, 2010 [20 favorites]


Who cares if a car window got broken. Some kid had to go through brain surgery due to police violence yesterday.
posted by public at 1:53 AM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


The look on her face, perhaps she was thinking "Oh no! Is this the revolution? Why didn't anybody say?!"

And I so wish it had been.
posted by dickasso at 1:59 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


communicator: "It isn't a graduate tax because rich kids who are supported by their parents at university won't have to pay it"

Their rich parents will look at the terms on offer & the rate of return they can get on that money elsewhere and tell their offspring to borrow the money I suspect.
posted by pharm at 2:00 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


pharm: "Marla Singer: "Tripling tuition? You're doing it wrong. Please UK, stop following America's example"

It's a graduate tax. For various reasons it's being called a loan but if you look at the way it's structured it's clearly a graduate tax.

No repayments are required until income hits 21k (indexed against inflation) which happens to be the median income, repayments scale with income so that the rich pay more than those who only just break the threshold, any remaining debt is written off at a break point X years after the original loan (20? 30? I can't remember). The only difference between this and a graduate tax is that it's legal status as a loan means that it can be applied to students from elsewhere in the EU who come to study in the UK.

Now whether you think students should be taxed more in the future than non-students is a whole other argument, but this setup bears very little relation to the US student loan disaster.
"

All fair points, but there's still the fact that a single year of tuition in England and Wales will now cost what an entire degree used to. Given many students already have loans to help cover living expenses (average is about £30k now I believe) you'll be looking at £50k in loans to pay back in no time.

I graduated in 2003, and it will be at least 2012 before I finish paying off my (relatively paltry) £16k in student loans. You're going to have an entire generation of students who won't finish paying off their loans until they're in their early forties.

Funnily enough, a degree is no longer any sort of guarantee of higher earnings through life, if indeed it ever was. Lard tens of thousands of pounds of debt on top and it begins to look like a mug's game.

But hey, if people are too busy working to pay off crippling debt, they're easier to control, right? Win win for the government.

I've been a Lib Dem voter since I could vote. No longer. Spineless buffoons. Christ knows what the alternative is though. Labour? Don't make me laugh.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:01 AM on December 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wow, reading about kettling is interesting. I've been to protests in NZ (not for ages) and never seen anything like that. Being forced to remain, against my will, in a situation like that would definitely make me very angry, and just screams all sorts of wrong to me. No wonder these things turn violent.

Britan seems to have some very aggressive and extreme policing.

As for the attack on Prince Charles' car - I am simply astounded that was even remotely possible - WTF? I mean the Prime Minister of NZ travels pretty low key (in a BMW sedan with a single unmarked police car escort) but his drivers would NEVER drive him into a situation like that. Surely the second in line to the British throne gets at least that much protection?
posted by sycophant at 2:02 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, if he was a police van he would have been protected by schoolgirls.
So the Royal Family has fewer defenders among the young these days than the vehicle fleet of the Buckinghamshire constabulary? Dude.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:07 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why didn't Prince Charles stay home? Was he out to make a point?

The protests were enormous and everyone here in London knew about them for weeks. We live in Bloomsbury and thousands and thousands of kids marched right in front of our place. Cars stood still for hours. If you weren't part of the protest, you knew to stay home. Why did he drive into this? To prove he is a man of the people? Is that why the newspaper goes out of its way to point out he was smiling and trying to talk to the protesters? What an idiotic thing to do.
posted by vacapinta at 2:17 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps his usual police escort was a victim of these cuts I hear so much about?
posted by Abiezer at 2:18 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Britan seems to have some very aggressive and extreme policing.'

Relative to what? Have you seen how the French go about dealing with such matters?

'As for the attack on Prince Charles' car - I am simply astounded that was even remotely possible - WTF? I mean the Prime Minister of NZ travels pretty low key (in a BMW sedan with a single unmarked police car escort) but his drivers would NEVER drive him into a situation like that. Surely the second in line to the British throne gets at least that much protection?'

The location of the 'attack' on HRH was nowhere near the protests - it was in the shopping district which no doubt will have been packed in the run up to Christmas. According to the police the route had been deemed fine minutes before. In reality they were going up to a theatre in the middle of the West End. There are limited ways in and out and hordes of shoppers are pretty indistinguishable from some troublemakers. By the sounds of things a small group of opportunists saw the car crawling slowly in traffic and jeered and threw some paint etc.

On a side note - the Royals are known for generally moving about in a pretty low key fashion. My father as president of a student union at a uni in the north once rode in a car with Prince Phillip to an event and made a joke about him not knowing that there were in fact 3 colours to a set of traffic lights (not just green). Stupid boy said Prince Phillip - I drive myself around London all the time!
posted by numberstation at 2:20 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please UK, stop following America's example.

With respect, it's not about you.
posted by vbfg at 2:23 AM on December 10, 2010 [22 favorites]


They're fees because the student decides which university to attend, and because different universities will have different fees. Better universities will cost more, so students will have to take a gamble based on what they think they might possibly earn many years into the future. And as everyone knows, young people are very expert at making these judgments.

They're tax because the university graduates will pay an extra 9% in tax (at 3% interest) on income above a certain threshold, over time. According to the BBC, the wealthiest students will be able to pay off that tax/loan in 15 years. Middle class graduates will have that tax hanging over them until they're over 50 years old.

Why is this increase necessary? The government has decided to reduce support for university teaching by 80%, a £4.2 billion reduction in funding. Research funding is also to be cut significantly. Now, students will be expected to pay, with interest.

Consequently, the protests aren't primarily focused on tuition fees. They are primarily about the complete re-architecting of higher education funding, and the social impact of those changes.

The other focus of the protests are toward cuts in Education Maintenance Allowance for school students. This is an allowance for the poorest students which helps them cover the costs of lunch and school supplies. In response, the schoolchildren have been leaving school and holding marches in cities around the UK. It's astonishing- I have never seen kids that young without adults holding signs and campaigning.

This is a watershed moment in British Politics.

Some links:

* Wes Streeting, former president of the National Union of Students, orchestrated a phenomenally powerful student presence in the last election, getting 1000 candidates to pledge against raising tuition fees.
* Aaron Porter's articles for the Guardian (Aaron is president of the National Union of Students)
* Nick Clegg's letter to the National Union of Students
* The NUS responds to Nick's letter
* Several Conservative and Lib Dem members of parliament have announced they are resigning from parliament, after opposing their parties on this issue
posted by honest knave at 2:28 AM on December 10, 2010 [31 favorites]


Scrap fees and fund university through business tax, says new report released by UCU.

Or just fund it through progressive taxation, raising taxes for the wealthy. The Coalition disgust me.
posted by knapah at 2:32 AM on December 10, 2010 [13 favorites]


Not sure how you can call it a tax. You borrow money (to pay to the university), then you have to pay it back in monthly instalments. Sounds like a loan to me. If it's a tax then I'm paying "Cat Tax" after that enormous vet bill this summer.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:38 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interview with one of the protesters
posted by fire&wings at 2:42 AM on December 10, 2010


Why is this increase necessary? The government has decided to reduce support for university teaching by 80%, a £4.2 billion reduction in funding. Research funding is also to be cut significantly. Now, students will be expected to pay, with interest.

For a government to spend anything at all it has to tax, either now or in the future. To spend by borrowing is to tax with interest in the future. There's no avoiding this: it's simple economics.

Either way the government borrows money to pay for student tuition now. They either raises taxes on everyone in the future, or they raise taxes on the students themselves. They've chosen to do the latter. We get to pay the interest either way. (There is a third alternative: for the government to simply print money to pay for student tuition, which a tax by inflation.)

What the students are rioting over is whether those who don't have degrees should pay more taxes in the future to pay for their education or not. Now I can make perfectly reasonable arguments why might benefit from so doing, but at the same time, there are perfectly good arguments the other way. The democratically elected government has made their choice. If you disagree, I suggest that you a) find a party that wasn't going to do this (Labour requested the Browne report don't forget, and were planning to cut spending by a very similar amount) and b) work to get them elected at the next general election.
posted by pharm at 2:46 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


f you disagree, I suggest that you a) find a party that wasn't going to do this (Labour requested the Browne report don't forget, and were planning to cut spending by a very similar amount) and b) work to get them elected at the next general election.

Like the Lib-Dems? Who I voted for?
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:51 AM on December 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


NB. Ironically, had all the students who are currently so worked up actually voted the way they were telling the pollsters they were going to at the general election, then the LibDems would have been in an unassailable position, possibly even the largest party & would have been able to implement their manifesto, including saying no to student fees!

Sadly the youth of our nation remained as apathetic as ever & then act all surprised when the government acts in the interests of those who actually vote.
posted by pharm at 2:53 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


there are perfectly good arguments the other way

But of course. It's not like well-educated people (from all socio-economic classes) benefit society as whole. Or that university students are outvoted by people who already got their degrees on the cheap and don't want to pay it forward. Really, if there's one problem the UK has, it's that kids in disadvantaged areas have too many incentives to pursue higher education. Yup.
posted by jaynewould at 2:54 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ah, I see I should have previewed :)

Infinite Jest: "Like the Lib-Dems? Who I voted for?"

They're in coalition. Which means they don't get to implement all of their manifesto. If people had put them in government, things might be different. The people didn't, partially because the currently rioting youth vote didn't bother to actually, well, vote.

I have limited sympathy.
posted by pharm at 2:55 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


jaynewould: "it's that kids in disadvantaged areas have too many incentives to pursue higher education. Yup."

This setup is more progressive than the existing scheme. If it turns out that the gamble of going to university to increase your lifetime earnings doesn't pay off for you, you don't have to pay the fees back!
posted by pharm at 2:56 AM on December 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


NB. Ironically, had all the students who are currently so worked up actually voted the way they were telling the pollsters they were going to at the general election, then the LibDems would have been in an unassailable position, possibly even the largest party & would have been able to implement their manifesto, including saying no to student fees!

Sadly the youth of our nation remained as apathetic as ever & then act all surprised when the government acts in the interests of those who actually vote.


Note that students who have not entered university yet would not have been old enough to vote at the last election....
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:58 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Why didn't Prince Charles stay home? Was he out to make a point?

Inbreeding. He's a bloody idiot.


Also, it's not a graduate tax. As far as I can tell it's a loan which well-off students won't need to take out, therefore will not have to pay interest on, and therefore the poor and lower middle class will actually be paying more than the rich for their educations. This is not the way it's supposed to work!

Those whose earnings are low for a while after graduation (i.e. those whose education has done least to improve their earning power) will be allowed to defer their payments until they hit an earnings threshold. This means that those people, I assume, will be paying the most due to accumulated interest.
posted by dickasso at 2:59 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


then the LibDems would have been in an unassailable position, possibly even the largest party & would have been able to implement their manifesto, including saying no to student fees!
Except we know that they were already drafting plans in secret to drop the promise if they got into power (which would only ever be in a coalition). With their fees pledge, they were like one of the left sects looking for a political USP - and it wasn't ever something the Clegg coterie took seriously or wanted to do, even if many grassroots Lib Dems did.
Which is why these protests (which are just the beginning; rest of the austerity agenda yet to bite) are exactly how you get a government that won't dare implement a regressive fees agenda.
posted by Abiezer at 3:00 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Abiezer: "Except we know that they were already drafting plans in secret to drop the promise if they got into power (which would only ever be in a coalition)."

The polls at the height of the Cleggasm would have probably made the LibDems the largest party in parliament. In the actual election it turned out that people changed their minds at the last minute, or didn't bother to vote.

I remain entirely unsurprised that the leadership sat down and decided which bits of their manifesto had priority & which didn't in any putative coalition government. Did you really expect them to go into coalition demanding the implementation of their entire manifesto?
posted by pharm at 3:04 AM on December 10, 2010


They might perhaps have stuck to the one black-and-white promise they made. And you'll see that Clegg was already trying to drop that pledge back in 2009.
posted by Abiezer at 3:06 AM on December 10, 2010


dickasso: "Also, it's not a graduate tax"

It walks like a graduate tax, it quacks like a graduation tax. Of course it's a graduate tax :)

The rich understand money & will tell their offspring to borrow as much of this impressively cheap money on offer to invest in their education as they can lay their hands on. If they chose to invest existing capital in their children's education, then they'll be forgoing the future earnings on that capital instead, which are likely to average far more than 3% over their child's lifetime.
posted by pharm at 3:08 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This means that those people, I assume, will be paying the most due to accumulated interest.

if you are under the repayment threshold there is no accumulated interest.

BTW- This might surprise most of you, but 6k GBP just for tuition is much more expensive then the majority of State Universities in the US. When people quote school costs in the US its inclusive of room, board, and books.

That aside, the shame of this plan is that it would seem very easy to make it more progressive given you already have the concept of income dependent repayment and interest rates. Just force everyone to take out loans, and ramp the rates higher for high earners and use that incremental income to fund cheaper costs for lesser earners.
posted by JPD at 3:10 AM on December 10, 2010


The rich understand money & will tell their offspring to borrow as much of this impressively cheap money on offer to invest in their education as they can lay their hands on. If they chose to invest existing capital in their children's education, then they'll be forgoing the future earnings on that capital instead, which are likely to average far more than 3% over their child's lifetime.

Pharm - empirical evidence in the US would suggest that you are wrong. We too have a subsidized loan scheme for universities, but the wealthy usually pay for their kids education.
posted by JPD at 3:12 AM on December 10, 2010


The rich understand money & will tell their offspring to borrow as much of this impressively cheap money on offer to invest in their education as they can lay their hands on.

Will they be able to, though? Honest question - when I was a student 10 years ago I'm pretty sure the amount of student loan you could get was calculated on how wealthy your parents were - poorer families could borrow larger amounts, well-off families less, on the understanding that the parents could afford to at least partially-fund the students themselves.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:14 AM on December 10, 2010


JPD: My understanding is the student loans in the US are structured completely differently. (The interest rates are far higher for a start.) They're not really comparable.
posted by pharm at 3:16 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You make the mistake of thinking that the interest rates will remain low for more than 2-3 years.

I would bet a significant amount of money that this is not going to be the case.
posted by dickasso at 3:16 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I saw no effort made WHATSOEVER to arrest or remove the handful of people who were commiting acts of vandalism; kettle, terrify, subdue seemed to be the only tactic.

That's what happened here in Toronto during the G20 in June; the protests pictured here were peaceful, but given the kettling treatment, while the earlier protests which actually included vandalism were given a wider berth.

The takeaway impression is that the cops just wanted to beat up some hippies without threat of physical reprisal. The whole thing was a disgrace.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:18 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


My student loans were below prime actually, so no you are wrong in that respect.

No we don't really have a true income related deferral, but they are considerably subsidized by the government to the degree that generally your point that returns are better elsewhere for their parents still applies.
posted by JPD at 3:21 AM on December 10, 2010


Back in the day that I was busy being wrong about this sort of thing, I was on this scheme where one would do one's undergraduate degree for, effectively, free. I was, at the time, accumulating tuition fees, and the moment that my salary surpassed the national average, my taxes went up some ignorable amount and I was paying it all back.

It all seemed like a fairly sensible, and equitable, to me. I'm astonished that other countries don't have such an arrangement.
posted by pompomtom at 3:24 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


sorry, posted too soon. The big difference in the US is that they are NEVER cancelled, indeed it is the one form of loan that is virtually impossible to discharge. That said, if you can't afford the payments (although can't afford is a much more draconian concept in the US than "earn less than the median") they will sort of continually extend and recast the loan, as well as if possible lower the interest rate.
posted by JPD at 3:24 AM on December 10, 2010


NB. Full details of the scheme are outlined here, although this article dates from the 2nd Nov & may differ slightly from the actual bill.

The interest rate is a max of RPI+3% once repayments start. Interest will accrue at the RPI for those who earn < 21k.
posted by pharm at 3:28 AM on December 10, 2010


JPD: "sorry, posted too soon. The big difference in the US is that they are NEVER cancelled, indeed it is the one form of loan that is virtually impossible to discharge. That said, if you can't afford the payments (although can't afford is a much more draconian concept in the US than "earn less than the median") they will sort of continually extend and recast the loan, as well as if possible lower the interest rate"

Yeah, US student loans are the literal translation of mortgage: "death grip". I've read some horror stories about the penalties applied to those who fall behind on their loans as well, to the point that my advise to the individuals involved would have been to default by emigrating.
posted by pharm at 3:30 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pharm - you need to differentiate between the government run schemes and the private schemes. The government schemes are actually pretty gentle when it comes to penalties and fees. Especially if you go to them early with repayment issues.

The BBC evidently doesn't realize that "no real rate of interest applied" does not mean "the interest rate will rise from 0 for incomes of £21,000"
posted by JPD at 3:35 AM on December 10, 2010


pharm: The polls at the height of the Cleggasm would have probably made the LibDems the largest party in parliament. In the actual election it turned out that people changed their minds at the last minute, or didn't bother to vote.


Sorry but this is nonsense. The vote distribution for the LibDems is so tightly clustered geographically that they had no chance of securing a majority on their own without the most enormously massive land-slide in the history of modern democracy. The UK's first-past-the-post voting system is not fit for purpose exactly because of situations like this.
posted by public at 3:35 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm astonished that other countries don't have such an arrangement.

I'm in Australia and we have a very similar system, and I prefer it to a private loan system (the American system frightens me). However, nobody has decided to increase our tuition threefold. A year of UK tuition at 9000 pounds would pay for an entire undergraduate degree in Australia. Not only will it take three times as long to pay back at the same rate (ignoring interest), but student debt is taken into account when taking out things like mortgages, putting graduates with massive student debt at a significant disadvantage compared to those fortunate enough to have graduated only three or four years prior.
posted by jaynewould at 3:37 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


JPD: I stand corrected. Do private student loans not benefit from the "no discharge in bankruptcy" rule then?
posted by pharm at 3:37 AM on December 10, 2010


Note that students who have not entered university yet would not have been old enough to vote at the last election....

Which is why I'm increasingly in favour of lowering the voting age to 16.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 3:37 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


The big difference in the US is that they are NEVER cancelled

How about we not make a thread about the UK about the US?

If there is an equitable way to fund tertiary education, it's not the US that's going to implement it.
posted by pompomtom at 3:38 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think kettling has backfired. At least partly, the aim seems to be to make demonstrating an unpleasant, uncomfortable experience by confining people in a restricted space for several hours without food, water, heat or toilet facilities.

So what's happening now is that unwilling to be kettled, groups of a few dozen to a few hundred are breaking away from the main demo when they see a line of cops, leading to uncontrolled groups wandering around a large area, without stewards.

Also note that the Independent, Guardian and the BBC are referring to it as a "protest". The word "riot" seems to come from the right-wing press. The actual amount of damage and injury seems pretty small for a riot.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:41 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I prefer it to a private loan system (the American system frightens me).
Most student loans in the US are from the government or guaranteed by the government. 23% of loans are private. And this sort of overstates their prevalence. If you go to a state school in the US you should be able to fund it through government programs. It's professional grad schools, and high cost private colleges where you see the bulk of private lending going.
posted by JPD at 3:46 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's professional grad schools, and high cost private colleges where you see the bulk of private lending going.

Ah, thanks for clarifying!
posted by jaynewould at 3:48 AM on December 10, 2010


How about we not make a thread about the UK about the US?
a fair point - however, someone made the point that this plan will be more progressive then the naysayers claim because "The rich know money, and see a deal when they get one", and in the US where we've always had a high cost tertiary education system paired with a pretty generous lending regime this has never been the case. So in that context its relevant. The conversation continued because the same person who made the original claim tried to counter argue several things that just aren't true about the US system. So there you go.
posted by JPD at 3:50 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frankly I'm astonished that we haven't had an American wander in and say "Goddamn crybaby Limeys, I owe $100,000".

So yeah, let's keep the discussion about the UK system, since that's what people are actually rioting about.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:56 AM on December 10, 2010


In this age of unparalleled access to information, why do so many believe they need to be taught?
posted by fistynuts at 4:01 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


JPD was just clarifying some of the things I'd said. Don't blame him :)

I think by the way that all the commentators are misunderstanding the "low earners pay no interest" part: the actual statement is:

"For graduates earning below £21,000, there will be no real rate of interest applied to their loan."

Looking at the way the rest of the loan is structured, it looks like the value of the loan will attract interest at the RPI to me, but I could be wrong. This kind of alters my comments about "grabbing cheap money with both hands" upthread: RPI+3% isn't all that
cheap, although it's a lot cheaper than an unsecured loan would be.
posted by pharm at 4:02 AM on December 10, 2010


My only guess about the Lib Dems' capitulation on this (er, and everything else) is that they're spending all of their political capital to push the PR / AV referendum through. Changing the electoral system has always been a core part of their platform and, if it goes through, would strengthen them enormously in the next elections, allowing them to push harder for all the other things that they promised. It's a risky (and IMO doomed) strategy, but really the only explanation that I can think of.

However, I don't know much about the Lib Dems' internal politics or the exact terms of the coalition agreement (I really should get around to reading that...). Can anyone more informed comment on the idea?
posted by metaBugs at 4:07 AM on December 10, 2010


RPI + 3% for a government guaranteed loan scheme is actually pretty shockingly expensive.

And yes, its pure political theatre how they phrase under 21k earns as "paying no real rate of interest" meaning interest rate at RPI. The whole scheme should be priced at RPI +100 or RPI + 150
posted by JPD at 4:07 AM on December 10, 2010


fistynuts: "In this age of unparalleled access to information, why do so many believe they need to be taught?"

It's not about actual learning fistynuts, it's about credentialing. Some say we're in a credentialing bubble, which, like all bubbles before it, will eventually burst under the weight of unsustainable debt.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:07 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


In this age of unparalleled access to information, why do so many believe they need to be taught?

If you put this on your CV:
2007-2011 Somewhere Secondary School, Somewhereshire
10 GCSEs, 4 As, 6 Bs; A-level Maths (B), A-level Chemistry (B), A-level Physics (C)
2011-2014 Read Wikipedia's mathematics and chemical science articles.


You don't get invited to as many job interviews.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:17 AM on December 10, 2010 [17 favorites]


JPD: It's progressive. If you earn 21k you pay RPI, if you earn 41k you pay RPI+3%. 21k is about the median income.

The BBC has the full text agreement available online. Of course, we can't know whether any side deals were done between the individuals involved, but given that they'd have to carry their parties with them regardless that seems unlikely.
posted by pharm at 4:19 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Will they be able to, though? Honest question - when I was a student 10 years ago I'm pretty sure the amount of student loan you could get was calculated on how wealthy your parents were - poorer families could borrow larger amounts, well-off families less, on the understanding that the parents could afford to at least partially-fund the students themselves.

I was a student 10 years ago, and one of my first University-related life lessons was that creative accounting will let rich people do what they want.

I didn't get full loans (though I deperately needed them) and had to contribute to tuition fees as well because my mum's job as a teaching assistant pushed my parents just over the financial boundary - despite the fact that in real terms they didn't have the ability to contribute much to my university costs (large family etc.) other than the odd £50 or so when I was really desperate at the end of term and the bank wouldn't extend my overdraft any further.

By contrast, several students I shared halls with were children of incredibly well off parents who somehow qualified for full loans, which had gone straight on a new car, or were sitting in a savings account quietly accruing interest. They also paid no fees and several had even managed to get what little grants actually remained from various places. All whilst they received healthy three or four figure donations on a monthly basis from home.

Most of 'em had no idea how daddy had done it all, although one (who at least had the decency to be embarassed about it) told me that whilst he didn't know the full details, in his case it was something to do with him being down as resident with his mother after his parents divorce (who technically didn't earn anything) rather than his father, the genuine multi-millionaire who was shipping him a grand or so a month in "pocket money" whilst getting his accountants to do all the paperwork on the guy's hardship grant.

This was one of the many incidents in life that has made me realise that often in life you simply cannot make things fair.

All you can do is come up with a solution that makes it so the people with no money don't get fucked over, and bite your lip about the fact that it gives the people with money a free ride as well. Because at the end of the day the people with money will always find a way to have a free ride no matter what you do anyway.

How does that apply here?

Well you can talk deferred payments, low interest rates, higher earnings (allegedly - we including lawyers and doctors into account in that figure?) and support schemes for those who demonstrate low earnings all you want. Simple fact is though, that with the best will in the world the people who are, and will continue to be, fucked over by this will be the poor and the lower middle class.


I'll tell you now, I wouldn't have gone to University if I'd had to pay those fees - but then what the fuck does the world need with humanities graduates anyway AMIRITE?!

"Cradle to the Grave" protection.

That's what we were meant to have learnt after WWII.

Not because it was easy, not because it was fair, but because it is right, and because sometimes the only way you can help the elements of society that struggle most to find a better way of life is by accepting the payoff - that there are those who don't need that protection that will use it too.

That slight buzzing sound you hear is Clement Attlee spinning furiously in his grave.
posted by garius at 4:21 AM on December 10, 2010 [28 favorites]


A year of UK tuition at 9000 pounds would pay for an entire undergraduate degree in Australia. Not only will it take three times as long to pay back at the same rate (ignoring interest), but student debt is taken into account when taking out things like mortgages

The one good thing about this is that, I gather, mortgages, credit ratings etc. can not take into account student loans.

Ok, actually, there are a few good things about this. Raising the payback threshold, for one.

What isn't good is that, as ever, those on low-middle incomes will wind up paying back more in total than those on higher incomes, who should just pay it off straight away? Also bad is the massive disincentive for those from poorer backgrounds - sure, as the government keep saying you don't have to pay it back right away, but £27,000+ of tuition debt sounds a lot scarier than £10,000 (or, as I paid for my undergrad, about £4,000) and that will put people off. I understand the rationale, too, behind having a contribution from the student, and a contribution from taxation (after all, both the student and society benefit from the student's education) but cutting the teaching budget by 80%! That's not about maintaining the balance, that's a (major) start to shifting the contribution entirely onto the shoulders of the student.
posted by greymullet at 4:29 AM on December 10, 2010


"The officers who were protecting the Royal Highnesses showed very real restraint. Some of those officers were armed," he said.

That's the Commissioner of the Met, letting us know that shooting protesters is basically on his agenda.
posted by Coobeastie at 4:31 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


JPD: It's progressive. If you earn 21k you pay RPI, if you earn 41k you pay RPI+3%. 21k is about the median income.
yeah. off the top of my head I'd guess it ends up being on average something like RPI+200 - still pricey imo given real rates are <0. 21k is the median for total pop, not college grads right? so then your distribution is going to be centered on a higher number - one that I can't find quickly on google.

has there been any discussion on the tuition cap? the way its structured now it seems awfully regressive. No reason why you couldn't do something like eliminate the cap for people from families with income 150 or 200% of the median and then forced need blind admissions on the schools. As it's structured now a rich kid at oxford is basically getting subsidized by a lower class kids at less good schools, and since there is a relationship between wealth and admissions outcomes the issue gets magnified.
posted by JPD at 4:51 AM on December 10, 2010


Coobeastie: ""The officers who were protecting the Royal Highnesses showed very real restraint. Some of those officers were armed," he said.

That's the Commissioner of the Met, letting us know that shooting protesters is basically on his agenda
"

Oh, I don't know. Sounds more like to me that he was saying, "We could have shot you guys like sick dogs, and instead, merely corralled you in a tight, constricting ring of shields for hours on end without access to food, water, heat or toilets. And I hear in Uzbekistan they boil people like you alive, so, yeah! Still a democracy here."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:57 AM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


The great thing about the phrase "very real" is that it is always a literal guarantee that you can read the sentence with the word "dubious" substituted. And I mean that in a very real sense of literal.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:00 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


"The officers who were protecting the Royal Highnesses showed very real restraint. Some of those officers were armed," he said.


Well, if that's the game he wants to play, I think the protesters showed very real restraint as well. They could have thrown petrol instead of paint.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:06 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Even Prince Charles showed very real restraint. He could have leaped from the sunroof of the limousine, ripped open his shirt, and started kirking out on the protesters bare-fisted.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:12 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm generally a non-violent, non-confrontational type of person, but watching and reading all that has happened in the last week or two is making me increasingly angry.

If the police are trying to incite rioting, they are doing a wonderful job so far.
posted by Acey at 5:15 AM on December 10, 2010


Dickasso:You make the mistake of thinking that the interest rates will remain low for more than 2-3 years.

I would bet a significant amount of money that this is not going to be the case.


For what it's worth, New Zealand has had a student loans system since the early 90s (though tuition fees are lower) with an interest rate of about 7% (which is lowish for NZ). The Labour government basically won the 2005 election with a policy of abolishing interest on student loans [for students working in NZ; I pay interest because I live in the UK]. So it can go both ways - think how popular Ed M would be if he reversed the Tory/LibDem status quo.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:18 AM on December 10, 2010


'off with their heads' has a great ring to it, though
posted by unSane at 5:22 AM on December 10, 2010


The polls at the height of the Cleggasm would have probably made the LibDems the largest party in parliament. In the actual election it turned out that people changed their minds at the last minute, or didn't bother to vote.

This was never going to be the case because Lib Dem support is too evenly spread across the UK, unlike the concentrated areas of power Labour and the Conservatives have. Even if the Lib Dems had trounced both of the other parties in vote percentage, they would likely have won less seats than either. And it's going to stay that way because Labour and the Tory power relies on having an skewed voting system.

Incidentally, the Lib Dems could easily have refused to form a coalition and supported the Tories agenda if and when it pleased them. Minority government isn't the end of the world and the UK would have survived just fine. As it is, the Lib Dems have condemned themselves to the political wilderness for the next twenty years. Why vote Lib Dem when you could just vote Tory? My bet is that the Greens and SNP pick up 10-15 Lib Dem seats at the next election.
posted by nangua at 5:27 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


nangua: "Incidentally, the Lib Dems could easily have refused to form a coalition and supported the Tories agenda if and when it pleased them. Minority government isn't the end of the world and the UK would have survived just fine. As it is, the Lib Dems have condemned themselves to the political wilderness for the next twenty years. Why vote Lib Dem when you could just vote Tory? My bet is that the Greens and SNP pick up 10-15 Lib Dem seats at the next election."

Precisely. I've voted for them for 10 years, despite the insanity of FPTP and the skewed results it creates. No longer. Being in Scotland, I'll probably throw my lot in with the SNP and see if we can get shot of the whole bunch of them and fuck up our own corner of the Kingdom by ourselves.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:39 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please UK, stop following America's example.

With respect, it's not about you.


Hmmm, how many times have I heard over the past month British universities need this lest they fall behind the American university system. You dress it up however you want, but charging students higher prices for education is basically what it's about. Any system that attempts to compete with the unsustainable American system is going to wind up unsustainable as well.
posted by nangua at 5:41 AM on December 10, 2010


Coobeastie: ""The officers who were protecting the Royal Highnesses showed very real restraint. Some of those officers were armed," he said.

That's the Commissioner of the Met, letting us know that shooting protesters is basically on his agenda"

FFS no he's not. How on earth do you come to that conclusion?! He is stating the very obvious - that Royal Protection Officers are armed and trained to respond to threats with lethal consequences if necessary. He is merely pointing out that they showed real contraint to provocation.

MSTPT 'Sounds more like to me that he was saying, "We could have shot you guys like sick dogs, and instead, merely corralled you in a tight, constricting ring of shields for hours on end without access to food, water, heat or toilets'

These are two entirely seperate incidents.
posted by numberstation at 5:44 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


numberstation: "He is stating the very obvious - that Royal Protection Officers are armed and trained to respond to threats with lethal consequences if necessary. He is merely pointing out that they showed real contraint to provocation."

It does very clearly look like a veiled threat. "Restraint" means they held back. If not shooting people is "showing very real restraint", the implication there is that they would have been within their rights to do so.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:49 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, how many times have I heard over the past month British universities need this lest they fall behind the American university system.

I'm sorry, I must have been mistaken. This is clearly all about you after all.
posted by vbfg at 5:58 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


pharm: "This setup is more progressive than the existing scheme. If it turns out that the gamble of going to university to increase your lifetime earnings doesn't pay off for you, you don't have to pay the fees back!"

That was the case already, anyway. Whether it's more progressive and helps the poorest or not is a point for debate but the main point is the scary march toward privatisation of further education and all the ramifications this bill will have.
posted by turkeyphant at 6:01 AM on December 10, 2010


So, this soccer game is a bit like american football but with a different shaped ball and the world cup is sorta like the superbowl except mexico get to play.

thanks for clearing that up.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:13 AM on December 10, 2010


MSTPT- I understand what you are saying but do not consider the comments to be a veiled threat so much as a point to highlight the difficult job the police did in the circumstances.

The mob who caused the rucus with HRH were actually shouting 'tory scum' as well as 'off with there heads' which I think shows the very low level of discourse that is being deliberated on here.

The royal protection officers may well have been within their rights to shoot - if they percieved the occupents to be in mortal danger - but clearly this was in no way shape or form close to happening.

For all the daily mail rantings - this country is not a banana republic and the suggestion that protesters being shot was ever on the cards or 'on his agenda' as you put it is frankly absurd.
posted by numberstation at 6:15 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was the case already, anyway.

They moved the threshold earnings level higher IIRC.
posted by pharm at 6:16 AM on December 10, 2010


The people at politicalbetting are making the same point I did about the disappearing student vote, complete with actual numbers.
posted by pharm at 6:19 AM on December 10, 2010


numberstation: "For all the daily mail rantings - this country is not a banana republic and the suggestion that protesters being shot was ever on the cards or 'on his agenda' as you put it is frankly absurd"

For the record, this wasn't what I said. My objection is to his implication that not shooting people exercising their democratic right to protest was showing "restraint".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:26 AM on December 10, 2010


I think we should all stop arguing and be glad that lady di is safe, although the stress has clearly taken its toll.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:29 AM on December 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


numberstation: "The mob who caused the rucus with HRH were actually shouting 'tory scum' as well as 'off with there heads' which I think shows the very low level of discourse that is being deliberated on here."

Are you serious? You think Camilla and Charles aren't Tories? They're the very definition of the Establishment. They are the Establishment. And the Tories are the party of that Establishment.

The very fact that a Royal was driving through London on the night of a decision where the government was aggressively destroying the education prospects of tens of thousands of people is a perfect encapsulation of the Tory mindset. This is our city, this is our country, fuck you, I've got a Variety Show to go to and your taxes paid for my dickie bow, thanks very much. The fact that the media is almost entirely focusing on this one scuffle and the fact it happened to a Royal is also a perfect encapsulation of why our media is screwed, why peaceful protest is being steadily marginalised and why we're fucked.

I was telling people five years ago when Labour started bringing in draconian protest restrictions that it would come back to bite us when we actually got upset about something and it most very definitely is for the thousands held inside these reprehensible 'kettles'.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:29 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


The royal protection officers may well have been within their rights to shoot - if they percieved the occupents to be in mortal danger - but clearly this was in no way shape or form close to happening.

Right. So why did they have to "restrain" themselves from shooting people? If I have to restrain myself from doing something it's because I really want to do it but know I shouldn't. Not because it's something I would only do as a last resort and I will try any other option before that.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:29 AM on December 10, 2010


The very fact that a Royal was driving through London on the night of a decision where the government was aggressively destroying the education prospects of tens of thousands of people is a perfect encapsulation of the Tory mindset. This is our city, this is our country, fuck you, I've got a Variety Show to go to and your taxes paid for my dickie bow, thanks very much.

I think this is missing the point. Tories shouldn't be allowed to travel through London because people are protesting against them? Should Labour voters be prevented from travelling through London if there is a Countryside Alliance march?

The "This is [my] city, this is [my] country, fuck you, I've got a [thing] to go to, thanks very much" mindset is exactly what I would be thinking if anyone protesting for anything was getting in my way. Hooray for people protesting against the fees, but I'd really like to get home right now please.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:33 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


EndsOfInvention: "I think this is missing the point. Tories shouldn't be allowed to travel through London because people are protesting against them? Should Labour voters be prevented from travelling through London if there is a Countryside Alliance march?"

No, Tories can go where they like, as can anyone else. But a Prince and his Duchess wife, who live on taxpayer money, driving in their finery through London on the night of a vote and attendant protests that eviscerates education funding in the UK? Yeah, perhaps they shouldn't be surprised they got some paint thrown at them.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:39 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you serious? You think Camilla and Charles aren't Tories? They're the very definition of the Establishment. They are the Establishment. And the Tories are the party of that Establishment.

I was alluding to the fact that the Royals and the government are two very seperate things. Why would you attack the royal family for a government policy? Did people jump on cars or throw paint etc when Blair and Co took the country to war?

'The very fact that a Royal was driving through London on the night of a decision where the government was aggressively destroying the education prospects of tens of thousands of people is a perfect encapsulation of the Tory mindset.'

Regardless of my disagreeing with your line that the government was aggressively destroying the education prospect of tens of thousands - I am interested as to what you think the Royals should have done? Stayed in?
posted by numberstation at 6:41 AM on December 10, 2010


No, Tories can go where they like, as can anyone else. But a Prince and his Duchess wife, who live on taxpayer money, driving in their finery through London on the night of a vote and attendant protests that eviscerates education funding in the UK? Yeah, perhaps they shouldn't be surprised they got some paint thrown at them.

Oh sure, it might be a bad idea. But they're allowed to think "fuck it, I've got places to be" if they want, and it seemed like you were saying they shouldn't be allowed out at all. Sorry if I misinterpreted.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:45 AM on December 10, 2010


numberstation,

Perhaps because, as royals, they are the very embodiment of the privilege and rigid class-structure that the Tories seem so intent on reviving. And they live off of public monies while thousands are being asked to do without.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:51 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My only guess about the Lib Dems' capitulation on this (er, and everything else) is that they're spending all of their political capital to push the PR / AV referendum through.

I think this is the biggest indication that the Lib Dems were never suited to power in the first place. Surely the eruption of laughter from the meeting room just as he closed the door would've given Clegg an inkling that the Tories aren't on the up and up.

PR/AV will be obliterated by a ConLab pact and all the 4 or so Lib Dem voters left will feel as cheated as the rest of them.

That's the Commissioner of the Met, letting us know that shooting protesters is basically on his agenda"

It's always been on Sir Paul's agenda. The Met have always been the Hobbesian pricks who make the rest of the UK's Police forces seem like cells of Anonymous and this goes doubly for whichever Lord in waiting is commissioner kissing the Queen's arse at the time. The RPS have form as far as restraint goes and after meeting a fair number of both parties I'd trust them to be more human over The Met whatever the current state of the revolution.
posted by fullerine at 6:56 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, now I've got caught up in it - Charles and Camilla's car was a sideshow. I don't care what the Royals should or should not have done, I'm just bemused that they or anyone else were surprised by the attack.

The real story is that there are students being put into hospital by cops, simply because they want an education in a country and system increasingly set up so that a degree is the new minimum and even then doesn't give you much of an advantage. Not to mention the thousands being stripped of their dignity and personal agency through illegal detainment in freezing conditions. Because that's what the police are doing - they are unreasonably and unlawfully detaining people, purely to show them that any attempt to protest will be met with a cold, painful, humiliating and extended reminder of just how powerless we really are.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:57 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually, I think this is all really a plot on the part of the Tories to revive the ailing Baroness Thatcher. Every time a drop of student blood is spilled on the ground, she becomes stronger. All they need is for a protester to be killed and she will emerge from her Belgravia apartments more powerful than ever.

Yes, I may have seen Prince of Darkness one time too many.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:01 AM on December 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


"One test of a liberal society is the point at which killing protesters becomes acceptable, at least to those with the power to do the killing. And this morning it seemed clear that, unless the Commissioner misspoke or that one simply misinterpreted him, that the point is now the discretion of any police officer with a gun." - Jack of Kent
posted by bright cold day at 7:01 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


What no one seems to have mentioned is the tories have sadly missed the opportunity for a root and branch upheavel of the higher education sector. Yes yes they have changed the funding and the finance but not one of them has had the balls to mention some home truths about higher education in the UK. Instead they trot out the same old BS about us having some of the best unis in the world.

The reality is that by and large the universitys in this country are incredibly inefficent vehicles. 3 years to do a degree - why? Only 6 months of term time a year - why? You can thank Labour for the devaluation of a degree. Whose ideas was it to put an arbitrary figure of 50% of people going to Uni? Cue large numbers of people getting into Uni with piss poor qualifications and obtaining degrees not worth the paper they are printed on.
posted by numberstation at 7:06 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metabugs: I thought this analysis of the Lib Dem position was interesting, it assumes they thought Cameron would be more successful than he was.
Without the decision to sign THAT pledge, to pose for the photos, to make the now cringeworthy videos saying "it is time for promises to be kept", claiming a unique level of integrity and trustworthiness in politics, this could have been just another u-turn in an everyday tale of Coalition folk...

For didn't the NUS campaign position the LibDems quite beautifully if you take a trip with me to a parallel universe where David Cameron did win a Tory majority of 12?

This issue would give the appearance of outflanking Labour to the left in the universities and on the letters page of The Guardian, yet doing so on an ideal issue to get under the Tories' skins in the affluent south-east and southern marginals where parents and students would see the LibDems on their side.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:11 AM on December 10, 2010




The decision ensures that the cap on subsidized university fees will jump from $4,800 to $14,500

Our in-state tuiton is about $3k a year. Non-resident tuition is $11k.

One possible byproduct of the tuition hike will be an exodus to foreign schools with more affordable tuition. Try as I might, I can't imagine a future where the infux of Brits into a small four-year-American college doesn't eventually become grist for a wacky sitcom. Feel free to suggest titles, and I'll get started on the treatment.
posted by mecran01 at 7:12 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


>>Are you serious? You think Camilla and Charles aren't Tories? They're the very definition of the Establishment. They are the Establishment. And the Tories are the party of that Establishment.

They are as much Tories as they are Furries, they are beyond Tories, can they even vote?

>>This is our city, this is our country, fuck you, I've got a Variety Show to go to and your taxes paid for my dickie bow, thanks very much.

They do not live on the same planet as us and attaching anything close to importance to what they do or say as individuals is like caring whether the rain likes you or not. They are the epitome of a sideshow and the press are showing you them, off to the side.
posted by fullerine at 7:14 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or you know, what you said. Sorry
posted by fullerine at 7:16 AM on December 10, 2010


I'm curious if these tuition increases go into effect immediately, or will only apply to those about to enter university. Not that it makes the hike any less horrifying, mind you. Just interested in the particulars.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:18 AM on December 10, 2010


I quite like this (NSFW) video explaining the whole Nick Clegg story.
posted by Catblack at 7:19 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But a Prince and his Duchess wife, who live on taxpayer money,
Not actually true.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:21 AM on December 10, 2010


anigbrowl: "But a Prince and his Duchess wife, who live on taxpayer money,
Not actually true.
"

So he's made money himself? Oh good. I suppose the millions in the Civil List have nothing to do with where and who he is, which give him the platform with which to make his money? Righto.

Regardless, as noted several times upthread, they're a sideshow and one which the government and media is grabbing on to with both hands. By the time the austerity cuts really start biting and everybody else starts protesting, it will be too late - the kettles will be perfected and they'll start dropping in tear gas and batoning people.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:25 AM on December 10, 2010


anigbrowl: "Not actually true."

This article doesn't actually say that. The royals come from very old money, as you might imagine, but they do receive an annual portion of tax money.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:27 AM on December 10, 2010


What a completely fabulous thread.
(Seriously, metafilter does this so well..such spot on links...)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:45 AM on December 10, 2010


And they live off of public monies while thousands are being asked to do without.

You know the queen has paid income and capital gains tax since 1992, yes? The entire royal family (including all staff expenses, building maintenance etc.) costs UK taxpayers about £40m a year, or 62 pence each. This is a pittance compared to the income from tourism, souvenirs, and so on that they generate for the British economy. Why do you think there's so much fuss over this impending royal wedding? £££ to be made, that's why. People make fortunes selling royal-themed merchandise. Go look on eBay, in the US. The royal family are the UK's marketing mascots.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:52 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a pittance compared to the income from tourism, souvenirs, and so on that they generate for the British economy.

When do the dividends pay out? I haven't seen mine yet.
posted by vbfg at 7:58 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why do you think there's so much fuss over this impending royal wedding?

Because they're a media circus? Panem et circenses, all that?
posted by blucevalo at 8:03 AM on December 10, 2010


How AP's photographer got 'the money shot' of Charles and Camilla.
posted by stbalbach at 8:19 AM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Big Picture.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:34 AM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes Dave, keep whining about kettles and generally protesting in the least effective way imaginable rather than using your brain or doing any research about your own bloody country - or declare an independent Scotland and enjoy your regional government that's so incompetent it couldn't build its own parliament within budget while you congratulate each other on how the sassenachs never conquered Scotland.

Compared to the economic fuckups of the 1970s and ensuing hardline conservatism of the 80s, you might as well be living in a Butlin's holiday camp. If you want to have your concerns taken seriously then stop acting like the fucking BNP and getting all hot and sweaty over the idea of some direct action. Use your brain and start a campaign, or join one like Unlock Democracy. Political battles are won not with signs and slogans, but with mailing lists and community meetings. You want to get a change of direction on educational policy? Then your constituency is Mums aged 35-50 who are sending their kids to college, and very few of whom would be seen dead at a street protest, but who can be counted on to vote in council elections.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear god, the police medics have medical cross stickers on their batons. Is that the magical healing stick? Or just the regular ones that put you in hospital?
posted by Happy Dave at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2010


anigbrowl: Couldn't agree with you more. This is what I say to people who complain about how much the royal family cost. They are of net benefit to this country. Do people really think we'd get so many tourists (from Japan and the US especially) if we were a republic. I don't think so. The Royal Family are by far and away a net contributor to the country.

As to the ethics of inherited wealth / titles /l land etcetera - well thats a whole different kettle of fish. I agree that land ownership in the UK is hugely out of sync with the rest of the civilised world.
posted by numberstation at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2010


Cameron's language ("I want to make sure that they feel the full force of the law" and "I want to see them punished in the correct way") is very reminiscent of the 1980s.
posted by blucevalo at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2010


Thanks for the ad-hominem attack anigbrowl, with a hefty dose of 'you don't know your born' on the side and an extra order of Jock-bashing. I happen to think, effectiveness aside, the right to free assembly and protest is a necessary foundation for democracy, not a nice-to-have. You can call it 'whining' if you like, but the fact remains that the policing of demonstrations is becoming steadily more repressive.

As to your other points, agreed. One is not exclusive of the other. I can talk about how wrong and cynical kettling is and donate time and money to campaigning.

So take your condecension and your attitude and shove them.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This BBX accouny of the protests was interesting too, The Dubstep Rebellion:
Any idea that you are dealing with Lacan-reading hipsters from Spitalfields on this demo is mistaken.

While a good half of the march was undergraduates from the most militant college occupations - UCL, SOAS, Leeds, Sussex - the really stunning phenomenon, politically, was the presence of youth: bainlieue-style youth from Croydon, Peckam, the council estates of Islington.

Having been very close to the front line of the fighting, on the protesters side, I would say that at its height - again - it broke the media stereotype of being organised by "political groups": there was an anarchist black bloc contingent, there were the socialist left groups - but above all, again, I would say the main offensive actions taken to break through police lines were done by small groups of young men who dressed a lot more like the older brothers of the dubsteppers.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:49 AM on December 10, 2010


This is what I say to people who complain about how much the royal family cost. They are of net benefit to this country. Do people really think we'd get so many tourists (from Japan and the US especially) if we were a republic.

True. But just imagine how many tourists you'd get if you built a scaffold in front of the Banqueting House and beheaded them!
posted by steambadger at 8:57 AM on December 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


That's nonsense, the French don't get any tourists these days. I went to Versailles and I was literally the only person there, wandering around those huge grounds. if only they still had a royal family, they'd get far more visitors.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:59 AM on December 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Vbfg, ask someone who has a job in a gift shop whether the royals bring in any tourist money. Tourism is a £76 billion industry in the UK, employing ~5% of the workforce, and around half of all tourist visits, 15m or so a year, are to London. People visiting London often take in a palace or one of the many royal-themed museums, as I'm sure you're aware. Who do you think buys all those cheesy British souvenirs? Londoners? London is going to be flooded with tourists when that wedding takes place. Tourists spending money in your economy. It will probably bring in more than the Olympics over the long term.

Blucevalo, next time you go to the supermarket look at the magazines. Even here in the states the gossip rags cover a royal wedding because there is a market of people interested in such things. Yes, it's a media circus. A circus that sells tickets and merchandise and provides jobs for a lot of people, much like sport and similar diversions. Tourism is basically frivolous but the jobs are real enough.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2010


To get back to the protests...

This is one of the best videos I've seen of the event so far - long for these sorts of things (12mins) but really gives a feel for what it was like to be there - includes violence from both sides, but also makes it clear what a diverse, and initally happy/peaceful, group of protesters were out that day.
posted by AFII at 9:11 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


pass me dehammer, i think i see denail
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:17 AM on December 10, 2010


The mob who caused the rucus with HRH were actually shouting 'tory scum' as well as 'off with there heads' ...

Lack of charisma can be fatal.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:21 AM on December 10, 2010


Happy Dave, you're welcome - living in Scotland taught me that it's important not to hold back when criticizing, and just let the bile flow freely.

Yes, a right to assembly and protest is important, but so is making sure you don't get hijacked by balaclava-wearing vandals or mob politics. Telling those Socialist Worker frauds to piss off would be a good start. Tell me one thing they have ever done besides sell papers and give out signs? They've been making a living off people's discontent since the 1970s and people are still falling for it.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:35 AM on December 10, 2010


anigbrowl: ask someone who has a job in a gift shop whether the royals bring in any tourist money. Tourism is a £76 billion industry in the UK, employing ~5% of the workforce, and around half of all tourist visits, 15m or so a year, are to London. People visiting London often take in a palace or one of the many royal-themed museums, as I'm sure you're aware. Who do you think buys all those cheesy British souvenirs? Londoners? London is going to be flooded with tourists when that wedding takes place. Tourists spending money in your economy. It will probably bring in more than the Olympics over the long term.

I don't give a shit how much money the royal family brings in from tourism, because that's not the point. The point is that the royal family is givens millions of pounds of taxpayers' money every fucking year. Personally, I'd cheer to see them all hang from the gates of Buckingham Palace but in my less Robespierre moments I'd settle for them having their public funding cut off.
posted by Len at 9:55 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl: Couldn't agree with you more. This is what I say to people who complain about how much the royal family cost. They are of net benefit to this country. Do people really think we'd get so many tourists (from Japan and the US especially) if we were a republic. I don't think so. The Royal Family are by far and away a net contributor to the country.
I don't know, numberstation, but putting it in those terms trips away any meaning—historical, cultural, or otherwise—that might explain what the Royal Family actually is, and why it should be. You make it sound like an electronic components factory, or a series of O2-sponsored stadium concerts.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:09 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


er, "trips" = "strips." Just so that's clear.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:11 AM on December 10, 2010


Sonny Jim - Understood. To me the Royal Family is about as far down as can be on my list of major concerns. Whilst I have friends who get seriously worked up and spout off like Len a few posts up, they generally focus on the money issue. I'm just trying to point out that as an argument the money issue is poor.

Len if you want to get worked up about 'millions of pounds of taxpayers money' why don't you start with the defence industry for starters? You know because with the defence industry we're talking billions not miliions. I can understand people having a vehment ideological dislike for the Royal Family and all that it entails - but this issue of them costing so much is frankly stupid.

Get pissed off about £130bn of your tax money being spent on replacing Trident why don't you? I'm far more about the foreign policy decisions that are taken in my name, the politics of the arms industry and the government use of defence contracts to prop up employment figures in marginal constituencys. Our complicity in torture and so on and so forth.

Seriously, this bug bear about the royal family seems ludicrous to me.
posted by numberstation at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The entire royal family (including all staff expenses, building maintenance etc.) costs UK taxpayers about £40m a year, or 62 pence each.

I wouldn't mind so much but that's on top of the billions of pounds worth of assets they already have & income made from those.

France gets more tourists and hasn't had a royal family for a while now.
posted by i_cola at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2010


I don't give a shit how much money the royal family brings in from tourism, because that's not the point.

It is the point, because the government collects taxes on all that tourism revenue which add up to much, much more than the money spent on the royals.

For that matter, the Crown Estate alone - the statutory corporation that manages property privately owned by the Crown - puts about £200 million a year (pdf) into the treasury. That's 5 times more than the cost of the entire civil list (£42m) and it is in fact what pays for the civil list. So before counting a single pound of tax collected on indirect tourism revenue (like souvenir sales or hotel rents), the taxpayer is £160 million ahead - more in fact, because the royals and their employees pay income and capital gains tax individually as well.

How many other businesses do you know that give about 85% of profits to the public? Sounds like a nice little earner for UK taxpayers if you ask me.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2010


For clarity, the Crown Estate Corporation gives all its profit to the UK government, which pays about 15% back to the royal family via the civil list. So the state gets the vast bulk of the asset income, and gets it first - the royals do not see a penny of it directly. Any private income they enjoy is on personal investments made after tax, not from crown assets.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:14 AM on December 10, 2010


I'd like to know what you think 'privately owned by the crown' really means.

How did they get that property, exactly? And why do they still have it?
posted by unSane at 11:14 AM on December 10, 2010


about your own bloody country - or declare an independent Scotland and enjoy your regional government that's so incompetent it couldn't build its own parliament within budget while you congratulate each other on how the sassenachs never conquered Scotland.


Luckily the english have been so wonderful at managing the budget that people are rioting in the middle of london.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:14 AM on December 10, 2010


I often wonder how it is that people are so emotionally invested in an underachieving, entitled, boring bunch of twats such as the Windsors that they'll make the fatuous 'tourism' argument. Seriously, what's in it for you?
posted by Summer at 12:32 PM on December 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


anigbrowl: It is the point, because the government collects taxes on all that tourism revenue which add up to much, much more than the money spent on the royals.

For that matter, the Crown Estate alone - the statutory corporation that manages property privately owned by the Crown - puts about £200 million a year (pdf) into the treasury. That's 5 times more than the cost of the entire civil list (£42m) and it is in fact what pays for the civil list


Yeah, it's the civil list that I have a problem with. I mean, if we suddenly decided to scrap it, it's not like the royal family will suddenly threaten – like the banks do – to move overseas because the tax regime isn't to their liking. Well, given the fact that they're all German, they might do, but hopefully you get my point.

As a percentage of the government's budget, the civil list is pretty small. But at the same time, £42 million is a lot of money; you could employ 2500 nurses on £17k/pa for a whole year with that money.
posted by Len at 1:00 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


A question from a confused Yank - HTH does the Royal Family's drivers/bodyguards happen to drive them into a riot? Don't they communicate with the police forces?
posted by bitmage at 1:44 PM on December 10, 2010


I'd like to know what you think 'privately owned by the crown' really means. How did they get that property, exactly? And why do they still have it?

By force, of course. They still have it for the same reason that nobody lives in the Ingleterra province of Spain, and the UK still uses common rather than Castilian law: various monarchs managed to maintain Britain's independence over several centuries. The specific reason that the Crown Estates still belong to the royal family is by contractual arrangements between parliament and the crown. here's a summary from my beloved Grauniad, and the terms of the most recent revision to the law, in 1961 (or the text and statutory history if you really want to pore over it).

I mean, if someone says they want to modify the terms of that arrangement, well fair enough, that's the whole point of having a parliament. But waxing outraged about the cost to taxpayers while expressing complete disinterest in what the actual numbers are is hard to take seriously, and just seems kind of ignorant. It's not that you have to approve of the royals, but that anyone who professes an interest in the state of the country should know about this already. It does not require you to be a monarchist or a lawyer or have a history degree. I'm pretty sure this used to be taught even in primary school: the 3rd series of Blackadder is about the contrafibularities between Parliament and the palace. It was the reckless spending and scandalous lifestyle of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) that caused royal estates to be taken farther into public trust during the Regency crisis though his irresponsibility continued to exasperate Parliament for many years afterwards.

Luckily the english have been so wonderful at managing the budget that people are rioting in the middle of london.

Well, let's see. New English government trying to push through austerity budget following the deepest recession in living memory - pretty unpopular, for obvious reasons. Ironically, that recession followed a long period with the dour Scottish hand of Gordon Brown steering the ship, although in such rough financial waters I actually think he made the best of a bad job. Still, the debt-GDP ratio in the UK has become chronically bad, and savings have to be made somewhere.

The parliament building in Scotland was commissioned in 1997 and completed in 2004, a time of economic expansion. And budgetary expansion too, as the cost of construction ballooned from ~£30 million to ~£430 million. So when Dave talks about staying up in Scotland (in terms of voting behaviour) to see whether they can fuck things up by themselves, I'd say that a 1000% budget overrun provides handsome proof already.

I don't normally go in for jock-bashing, but I have lived there for a couple of years (near Dundee) and got really tired of the reflexive 'blame England for everything' approach, even though I'm not English. People were in such a hurry to heap curses on anything originating south of the border that they seemed astonished to discover the laws of arithmetic and compound interest were not suspended along with the end of direct rule from London. I was pretty astonished myself, considering the Scottish reputation for thrift.

the civil list is pretty small. But at the same time, £42 million is a lot of money; you could employ 2500 nurses on £17k/pa for a whole year with that money.

Indeed. But don't you think this expense is even slightly offset by the much larger sum of money they bring in? There's the property income mentioned above, which is enough to employ 10,000 nurses after subtracting the cost of the civil list; the royals attend about 2000 public events a year between them, about half outside the UK; that's an awful lot of promotion for the UK. And incredibly tasteless though it may be, next year's royal wedding is estimated to be worth about £600 million to the UK, of which maybe 30% will end up in HM treasury and the rest will circulate around the economy. Most of this money is coming from abroad, and my understanding is that no extra civil list money is being allocated for the wedding, so in budgetary terms it's a freebie.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:06 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not outraged about the cost to the taxpayers. I am continually surprised by people who seem to think that a constitutional monarchy is a rational social arrangement which should be defended.

If you really feel that you need a head of state who isn't also a politician (and I'm totally down with that) I suggest a stray dog obtained from the Dogs' Home, Battersea (such as my mutt) would do a better job and be more socially cohesive than the third grade soap opera that is the Windsors.
posted by unSane at 2:24 PM on December 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, anigbrowl, my point is that Crown Lands should belong to the country, not the Crown, so I'm hardly warmed by their generosity in donating the income to the coffers of HM Gov. Other countries simply executed their royals.

In short: off with their heads.
posted by unSane at 2:26 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sod the Windsors, let's rant about the youth of today.
Feisty, social conscience, informing themselves. No wonder this country's not necessarily going down the shitter after all. Even if Dave Gilmore's son plays Tarzan on the Cenotaph.
posted by Abiezer at 2:28 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dave Gilmour.
posted by Summer at 2:33 PM on December 10, 2010


No, I mean Gary's brother, the one still with his eyes. Oh, all right, shit.
posted by Abiezer at 2:34 PM on December 10, 2010


Also, anigbrowl, my point is that Crown Lands should belong to the country, not the Crown [...]

Fine by me. Now you can say 'repeal the Crown Estate Act!' which has a nice snappy ring to it.

Other countries simply executed their royals.

You mean France and Russia? Did you happen to notice how they graduated to executing each other after they'd run out of royals, and were being run by Napoleon and Stalin, respectively, within 20 years of their revolutions? Monarchies overthrown by violence are often followed by harsh dictatorships: more recent examples include Iran and Cambodia. Don't think that could happen in the UK? Think again, because it already did.

I'm not a monarchist, but I'm not a despotist either. Of course, your ideal revolution would be different, and better. They always are.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:39 PM on December 10, 2010


I'm a roundhead, what can I say? I'm happy to have a monarch just so long as it's a dog.
posted by unSane at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2010


King Dog I. It has a ring.
posted by unSane at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2010


Hmmm, how many times have I heard over the past month British universities need this lest they fall behind the American university system.

I'm sorry, I must have been mistaken. This is clearly all about you after all.


Vbfg (and Happy Dave to a lesser extent), while I also deplore the US-centrism that can occur in threads, this is ridiculously (and literally, I suppose) insular. We live in a globalized world where the US post-secondary education system plays a particularly unhealthy role, particularly among anglophone countries.* I fully back the protesters and this is about students in the UK, but the US model is fully in the minds of many British politicians, university administrations and "independent policy groups and consultants". It is not making it "about [the US]" by mentioning that, since this is about politicians enacting legislation concerning education in the UK (that reflects their own socioeconomic position), regardless of ideological influence.

Conversely, it wouldn't be necessarily making the conversation all about the UK in a thread about US education by complaining how it influenced British education policy. Perhaps it's my political difference with the hypothetical person who would say "Goddamn crybaby Limeys, I owe $100,000", but I think that would be an example of making it all about the US since it makes it all about the American's pain and belittles anyone who wants to struggle for something that treats education as a public right even into post-secondary education while viewing the US experience (and lack of struggle around tuition fees) around these issues as normative.

* I think anglophone is important here, since although globalization has brought all sorts of unpleasant ideas of fair costs and what should have a price and be decided on the market and every country does have its own similarly unpleasant elite, the situation in continental Europe around tuition fees is not as dire and constant anglophone exposure and comparison to US models is challenged more and considered less "common sense", even if on a narrow "We are not a country of the 'Anglo-Saxon' model". This is only one reason for more effective continental fights against raising tuition fees, but it is there.
posted by Gnatcho at 5:34 PM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"'lack of struggle' around tuition fees [in the US]" should be "'less struggle', historically, around tuition fees [in the US]"
posted by Gnatcho at 5:37 PM on December 10, 2010


really tired of the reflexive 'blame England for everything' approach

I get really tired of being dissed for having a Scottish accent, in the middle of Edinburgh, the capital (apparently) of Scotland.

There's something wrong with that picture, can you see what it is ?

We can discuss the 'cultural inferiorisation' of the Scots by the English all you want - please let's not pretend it doesn't happen, or that it's some mysterious knee jerk reaction arising from nowhere.

Please dont make me pull various millenium dome like disasters out of my ass to compare with the admitted nonsense of the scottish parliament
- but do we dismiss the talents of an entire people based on one building, facilitated by a bunch of self-serving quislingesque lickspittles ?
I don't really have much against the Duke of Rothesay - I wouldn't be suprised if he set up some sort of scholarship scheme for people in the future (apart form the princes trust).
The bold Len might have to take him on himself.

I predict that as soon as England host the world cup, people will be much happier - there's an event we can really all come together for.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:46 PM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


anigbrowl,

You are the Duke of Edinburgh and I claim my £5.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:15 PM on December 10, 2010


They're in coalition. Which means they don't get to implement all of their manifesto. If people had put them in government, things might be different. The people didn't, partially because the currently rioting youth vote didn't bother to actually, well, vote.

Ah, yes, that pesky group of people too lazy to vote. What a bunch of tossers!

Oh, wait, what's that? The group of people this will affect make up just a minuscule sliver of the electorate, and in most cases are TOO YOUNG TO VOTE in the first place?

I have limited sympathy.

Maybe you should see someone about that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:51 PM on December 10, 2010


Sys Rq: "Maybe you should see someone about that."

What, for not particularly sympathising with disaffected youth complaining violently about the fact that people without degrees are no longer going to be taxed to pay for their university education so they have to pay a bit more tax themselves in the future?

No, I don't think so.

ISTR that the Labour government made a manifesto pledge not to bring in university fees & then did it anyway. Why wasn't there violence in the streets then?

IMO, these protests have little to do with the fees decision directly, and is all about the hard left trying to set the agenda in terms of a class war & use violence and the inevitable over-reaction by the forces of the state as a recruiting ground for the next generation of activists. These groups have no interest in the democratic process whatsoever.

Personally, I'd like to see free-university education for a much smaller number of students combined with decent post-school technical education. Unfortunately rampant credentialism has meant huge number of jobs now require a degree which never used to in the past, so it may be a case of "you can't get there from here".
posted by pharm at 1:31 AM on December 11, 2010


@ Pharm: there were protests against Labour's fees, just not so vehement. Part of the reason for that was that many people in academia (and I am one) don't have an absolute objection to a participant-based contribution (fee/special tax) to the costs of tertiary education. What's happening now is not just about fees - again that's the story the Government and the Media are pushing, but if you read the demands put out by any of the student groups and their supporters, you'll find a much more diverse set of beliefs and fears about the future of higher education. My local student group have been campaigning intelligently about cuts to free school meals, to bursaries and support for excluded or vulnerable children, to the EMA being removed, and so on. It really, really isn't just "I don't want to pay". For me, the major concern is that the withdrawal of the state will allow a privatisation of higher education which will damage it significantly (education is not a consumer product, it is a process in which the 'consumer' has to contribute effort as well as a cash fee...)

These fee increases are essential only because of the 80-100% cuts to teaching proposed in the White Paper. 100%! Why on earth is tertiary education expected to take such an enormous hit? To repeat what I've seen elsewhere, isn't it just a bit odd that we think education is so important that we not only make it free, but compulsory, for eleven years, and then suddenly treat it like a consumable luxury for the few after that point?

Sure, the hard left are here, of course they are. But as a participant - on the marches, in the occupations, part of the academic discussion about what is going on - I utterly reject your characterisation that this is all these marches consist of.
posted by AFII at 2:05 AM on December 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


AFII: "These fee increases are essential only because of the 80-100% cuts to teaching proposed in the White Paper. 100%! Why on earth is tertiary education expected to take such an enormous hit? "

As I understand things, the education department has signed up to much the same budget cut as every other department: about 25% or so. Higher education funding has presumably been cut to protect school & early years budgets, which are more important. (Labour was intending to make similar cuts & would have implemented the Browne review in some fashion.)

Cutting the teaching budget so hard & pushing the cost onto students via a graduate tax in drag whilst funding the debt via government borrowing is actually a way to funnel *more* money to higher education than would otherwise be possible. (My guess is that the Tories would like to be able to cut student numbers back to something like 1995 levels & fund those more generously but that's both practically & politically impossible at this point in time.)

Now, you can disagree with whether the cuts as a whole are necessary or not, but the UK government spend the last decade spending significantly more than it took in in taxes & on top of that a significant proportion of that tax take was on the basis of false GDP growth thanks to demand brought forward through non-government credit growth. Some kind of retrenchment was inevitable, if we want to avoid a decade of 70s style inflationary pain, with all the economic dislocation that goes along with it. Note that the government is not actually cutting spending in nominal terms at all: they're expecting a significant amount of inflation to cushion the blow, but of course inflation means a real-terms cut in income for most of us.
posted by pharm at 3:01 AM on December 11, 2010


(Sorry, just to clarify: that last sentance applies to all government spending; the education department is having to accept both nominal as well as real cuts.)
posted by pharm at 3:02 AM on December 11, 2010


IMO, these protests have little to do with the fees decision directly, and is all about the hard left trying to set the agenda in terms of a class war & use violence and the inevitable over-reaction by the forces of the state as a recruiting ground for the next generation of activists. These groups have no interest in the democratic process whatsoever.
Then you're even more of a clueless mug that I took you for. As all accounts have attested, the demonstration was largely by students, including many school students hit by the loss of the EMA - if you don't believe the various accounts by journos and participants just look at all the people involved in scuffles with police not even covering their faces; hardly the actions of seasoned rent-a-mob. Labour got away with it in large part because while they broke promises and the principle of free education they had the sense at least not to follow full-on market voodoo in the first instance, so the absolute level wasn't so high. A difference of thousands of pounds is highly significant to most potential students and their families.
And once again, demonstration and riot are an essential part of the democratic process, particularly because in the UK it doesn't just happen at the drop of a hat and is a sign that people are genuinely pissed off/feel cheated etc. This is why the poll tax riots worked and finally brought down Thatcher; the fact that a similar level of charges were introduced in disguised form later is why it's naive to think that parliamentary politics is just a matter of informed citizens reading lengthy manifestos on a plethora of complex issues and casting rational votes like mini Jeremy Benthams. People putting a brick through a window are far better democrats than mealy-mouthed apologists for whatever latest stitch-up their preferred party has tried to put over.
The class war aspect was introduced by the coalition driving through unnecessary ideologically-driven cuts aimed at the poorest and quite out of step with most of the rest of the OECD states.
posted by Abiezer at 3:24 AM on December 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think the idea that this is about economics is entirely disingenuous. Numerous financial bodies have pointed out that the numbers don't add up; this may put more money into tertiary education, but will cost taxpayers *and* participants more; it will make the deficit worse instead of better as repayment is delayed; it is socially regressive and will reduce opportunities; etc and so on. Even the last minute 'concession' about subsidies is a mathematical impossibility, which only requires sub-GCSE skills to spot. The policies, as proposed, are full of holes - and even if they weren't, the case for using the free market as the model for the provision of education is far from proven.
I agree with you that the Tories want to reduce numbers. I just wish they'd be honest about it and actually design a policy with coherence and deliberation, rather than trying to force that to happen 'by accident' and being disingenuous about the process.
posted by AFII at 3:25 AM on December 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Abiezer: "Then you're even more of a clueless mug that I took you for."

I specifically meant the violent elements, that obviously wasn't clear. If you think the hard left isn't taking full advantage, then I suggest you read up on Trotskyite entryism.

I'm sure the protesters would love this to turn into a general revolt against the choice to cut government spending in the style of the poll tax. For that to happen, they're going to have to convince a much larger chunk of the country to side with them. So far, that doesn't look like it's happening but events may turn out otherwise.
posted by pharm at 3:43 AM on December 11, 2010


I know far more about the doings of the left sects than I would ever have cared to, and having watched their antics while being active on what I expect you'd see as the 'hard left' myself (just by dint of being active in my trade union etc) for many years, I can assure you that they really can't conjure up that sort of feeling out of nowhere. The best they usually manage is to funnel it off down some blind alley after the fact. I think you will see that anger spread in the months to come as the rest of the cuts bite if this was any sort of barometer - certainly was far feistier than I was expecting. Tragedy to my mind is that the 57 varieties will be the only ones offering an ostensibly coherent alternative to the three flavours of neoliberalism the mainstream parties have in stock. Hope a genuinely broad-based movement emerges.
posted by Abiezer at 4:01 AM on December 11, 2010


Abiezer: "And once again, demonstration and riot are an essential part of the democratic process, "

They're an essential part of the realities of governance certainly — lets not call that 'democracy' though: it's nothing of the sort.

People putting a brick through a window are far better democrats than mealy-mouthed apologists for whatever latest stitch-up their preferred party has tried to put over."

Are you really making a "mob rule is preferable to oligarchy" argument? Personally, I'm not exactly keen on either. (I suspect the majority of people would choose the predictability of oligarchy over the anarchy of mob rule if forced to choose between the two.)
posted by pharm at 4:02 AM on December 11, 2010


I genuinely am - I place far greater trust in the general propensity of the British public to only riot when it's really called for than I do for our creaky representative democracy to deliver even the minimum of integrity we'd accept.
posted by Abiezer at 4:05 AM on December 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been in the middle of these kinds of things and two things are true about them -- the mass of demonstrators are there for exactly the stated reasons, plus whatever bottled-up discontent is troubling the country at large, and a very small minority of violent cowardly semi-criminal half-drunk idiots are responsible for the attacks on property and police.

They are certainly not 'hard-left'. They are basically anarcho-nihilist dimwits who are more likely to steal your camera than overthrow the government.
posted by unSane at 5:19 AM on December 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(and of course they are incredibly useful idiots for the powers that be, since they allow the whole thing to be painted as the work of hooligans and justify whatever tactics the cops desire to use... and one final absolutely incontrovertible truth is that the various shambolic proto-revolutionay hard-left organisations who hang out in squats in Hackney and Dalston have all been thoroughly infiltrated with agents of influence who are absolutely not above workings as agents provacateurs)
posted by unSane at 5:25 AM on December 11, 2010


Regarding the royals and the tourism argument. If we scrapped the monarchy and opened the palaces to tourists every day, or turned them into hotels, the tourist numbers would rocket.
posted by knapah at 6:52 AM on December 11, 2010


Police officers 'tried to stop hospital staff treating injured protester'
posted by homunculus at 9:06 AM on December 12, 2010


Home secretary threatens water cannon.

Read the comments. Remarkable.
posted by Summer at 9:26 AM on December 12, 2010


Video of police pulling protester from wheelchair.

The MET were going for their usual *ahem* high standards of behaviour.

If you watch closely, it looks like one of the police officers is dragged away by two others. I'm guessing that they realised that assaulting someone in a wheelchair was really not going to be a good idea.
posted by pharm at 3:16 AM on December 14, 2010


And if you fancy being both outraged and inspired, watch this BBC interview where Jody McIntyre, the wheelchair user, is quizzed by the odious Ben Brown who wants answers to gems such as 'Did you wheel yourself at the police.' Jody wipes the floor with him.
posted by Abiezer at 3:20 AM on December 14, 2010


Catching the footplates of a wheelchair on an officers ankles might be enough to provoke a later over-reaction like this given the circumstances & the bloke in the wheelchair might not even have really been aware of it. (I'm sure I've seen footage of him up at the front against police lines at some point.)

More generally, it seems to be that it's exactly this kind of tit for tat escalation of violence that kettling seems to be almost designed to encourage, providing it's own justification in turn. As I understand things, the police basically stopped the march in parliament square & trapped it there even though people wanted to keep going. That alone seems like madness, unless your intention is precisely to stir up trouble. I have a suspicion that the MET is loving all this violent protest, because it gives them such a great opportunity for self-justification.
posted by pharm at 4:53 AM on December 14, 2010


Home secretary threatens water cannon.

As I understand things they don't even own any at the moment, so this is a bit hypothetical.
posted by pharm at 4:56 AM on December 14, 2010


Yes. Thank goodness there are no vendors willing to sell them!
posted by unSane at 5:25 AM on December 14, 2010


Wasn't the threat to borrow them off the PSNI (who it seems have six [PDF])?
posted by Abiezer at 6:08 AM on December 14, 2010


Wasn't the threat to borrow them off the PSNI (who it seems have six [PDF])?

Indeed, they tend to be used in Northern Ireland in severe cases, like the Whiterock riots in 2005. The BBC describe that night as follows:
One hundred and fifty live rounds were fired at police, 167 blast bombs were thrown at police lines, 167 vehicles were hijacked and more than 1,000 petrol bombs were thrown. Police fired 216 impact rounds.
Not quite what we saw in London.

Thankfully it now looks like they won't be used. Especially in light of pictures like this [warning: graphic] from Germany.
posted by knapah at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2010


Jeepers knapah, that's horrific.
posted by pharm at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2010


Indeed it is, I sincerely hope the government are not stupid enough to use water cannons in Britain, although their actions thus far don't inspire too much confidence in that regard.
posted by knapah at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2010


I sincerely hope the government are not stupid enough...

/wipes snot off monitor

sorry, carry on
posted by unSane at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


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