After the University Fees riot on the 9th Dec, Teresa May, David Willetts et al all claimed that “peaceful protest” is legitimate but violent demonstration is unacceptable and undemocratic. On Newsnight Willetts claimed that violent demonstrators are clearly not prepared to take part in the normal democratic process.
But the normal democratic process has clearly been seriously undermined by the ConDem coalition. A government who did not win a general election have launched such an attack on public services that they make Mrs Thatcher look like a Pinko Keynsian.
The LibDems made specific and very public commitments not to raise tuition fees for university students. On Dec the 9th they conspired with the Conservatives to transfer 100% of the cost of a university education from the state to the student. Is it not “political” to commidify education and undermine the notion of a free education to all citizens? Logically why couldn’t the same arguments about funding of HE be applied to FE students and Sixth Formers? Why should the hard-working tax payer pay for the benefits accrued to other people’s children who stay on at school after 16 to take A-Levels or BTec? Why shouldn’t those students pay fees too?
The ConDems, who did not win an election, are undermining a principle that was established in the UK over 100 years ago after a 200 year struggle – often involving riots and violent demonstration. There is a real down n’dirty political battle going on here about the type of society we want to live in.
Vince Cable claims that once in government politicians cannot be expected to be held to promises made in the election campaign because once in government “tough decisions have to be made”. If this logic is applied generally the electorate can have no idea of what politicians will do if elected. Thus the electorate cannot make informed decisions about who to vote for. The election is literally a waste of time. We might as well draw lots.
To claim that pledges and promises made by politicians during elections become null and void if they get elected is clearly nonsense and fundamentally undermines even the very tenuous concept of democracy that exists in the UK.
I would go so far as to say that the ConDems represent an unelected government coup and frankly we, the electorate, “the people”, to use an old fashioned phrase, have every right, if not a duty, to make it clear to this coalition of election losers that they cannot simply do as they wish, that even an elected government, and this government did not win an election, only gets its legitimacy from the electorate.
The ruling elite in the UK are prepared to use £700 billion of tax payers money to bail out a collapsing banking system and £18 billion to mount wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the biggest “peaceful demonstration” in UK history against the war, and then cut services to tax payers to pay for it all. In the light of this I think we are entitled to use any form of demonstration we can to regain democratic control of our own country.
I Am Not A Number
Political and Philosophical Dispatches From An Individual Living In A Society