>An open letter to the ‘protestors’…from a proud Lib Dem



Dear pretentious student,

A rant aimed at majority of those protesting yesterday. To those of you that have been campaigning genuinely, apologies and ignore the following – but you are in the minority.

One. Dont tell me that because I wasn’t there I don’t care about the future of higher education funding. I’ve been fighting for it long before you have,, as have most Liberal Democrats, and I’m damn sure I’ll be fighting a lot longer for it. One over-energetic march that was probably more fun than anything else does not give you the right to take a higher ground.

Two. The occupation and vandalism was completely and utterly unhelpful to the cause, whatever way you want to spin it. Don’t moan that the media are spinning it. It was criminal damage. It was an illegal occupation, forcing regular people out of their workplaces. It was wrong. If you really believe that “direct” action like that gets you anywhere in politics then you’re even more naive than I thought.

That leads me onto my third point. How dare you compare the “demolition” march of yesterday with great political movements like the suffragettes or gay rights movements. It’s insulting, self-righteous and damn right delusional. The action they took was for a much greater cause, and the sustained suffering and campaigning they had to endure means protests like yesterday are but a footnote in history. You did not make history yesterday.

Finally, about the actual march and higher education funding. I bet the vast majority of the people there could not even tell me what the government policy on HE funding is. If I’d asked I’d get the blunt and insufficient reply that they’re raising fees. It’s more complicated than that. I stand by my belief that education should be free, and oppose in principle any rise in fees, but I’m also constructive enough to recognise that the poorer will be BETTER off under these proposals than the current policy. If I was an MP I would abstain, but I can recognise why Clegg and Cable are willing to compromise, even if I don’t agree with it.

If you want the Liberal Democrats to stick 100% to their policies then I’m afraid you need to help them get elected into government alone. Right now we are 1/5 of government so our say is limited.


Proud Lib Dem

by Bobby Dean


12 Comments to “>An open letter to the ‘protestors’…from a proud Lib Dem”

  1. >Points well made Bobby. I feel that Lib Dem MPs should have the decency to stick to their pledges, but I acknowledge that the proposals are beneficial to less well off students – the problem is in saddling young people with so much debt. It really really pisses me off when I see middle class NUS hacks banging on about how the proposals will put off less well off people from going to University. The only reason they would be put off is because the NUS and others keep telling them they wouldn't be able to afford to go, which simply isn't true. I lost a massive amount of respect for the student movement yesterday.

  2. >The irony is of course that some of those outraged students wanting to lynch Lib Dems are precisely the group of people who said they would vote for us and when it came to it just couldn't be arsed to show up.

  3. >Bobby,1. If you weren't there, don't tell me whether or not I was in the majority or the minority. I was there witnessing it first hand, not viewing the scenes from the comfort of an armchair on the BBC.2. 50 people were arrested. Out of 50,000. You don't need to be a mathematician to work out which side fall under the definition of the word 'minority'. For it to be a majority, 25,000 people would need to be stationed outside Tory HQ. That's pretty impossible, considering the only space most of them have is a road, then the river.Please don't make flagrant assumptions on something you know nothing about.

  4. >This is incredibly patronising. I was marching precisely because I know what government policy on higher education is and may become, and so do all the other academic and administrative staff from my department who were there. The future of our careers is under threat: I wasn't marching against a hike in fees, I was marching so as not to lose my job. Almost all of the people I was with have PhDs: we are not 18 year old zealots and we certainly didn't set anything on fire. This post is belittling and blinkered.

  5. >All I have to say is the group vandalising and occupying the Millbank building were certainly not the majority. I do not agree with what was done there, I feel it took away from the meaning of the protest and has put the sympathy with the wrong people. Don't brandish students as being "naive" because it was a select few, turning up in balaclavas with bandanna's over their faces. They may or may not have been students but the 50 people that did get arrested were these few that came to cause problems.

  6. >With regards to the majority thing – I agree.The piece states 'campaigning genuinely' not 'protesting'.As i wrote on twitter – so very condensed:"a protest can't be used soley as leverage. It can be used to show unity (which it's not – in fact it's shown division). It can be used to disrupt services to increase public awareness (but public awareness is already high). It can be 'the tip of the boil' to indicate wider social unrest – but it's not.People showing to the protest yesterday with the hope of changing policy show naievity just by showing up. Aaron Porter shows stupidity by thinking he can organise a peaceful protest (and have it stay that way) to support the NUS lobby action – it's weakening his bargaining position instead of strengthening it.On top of that the violence, regardless of minority, will soften general public support – while hardening the opinion those for the increase.All campaign tools rely on Focault's principle of discourse – you can be in the prevalent discourse, which is dull but generally productive (ie. lobbying which the NUS is), in an alternate discourse (protest fits nicely in here – a unique public perception of 'troublemakers' regardless of how many people marched peacefully), or outside of the discourse. The best campaigns use both discursive and non-discursive methods.Effective media campaigns rely on non-discursive methods. Effective internal campaigns rely on quiet lobbying etc.Protests & strikes fail – and can provide more in depth analysis if i get more than 1500 characters to do so!"I agree with the author – the MAJORITY of the people present wouldn't know successful campaigning technique if it smacked them over the head with a wet kipper.'I'm a protest LOL what fun' is NOT 'campaigning genuinely'. It's mediocre media management at best.Which is why, when a few hundred fools start making mayhem, all the news switches to them.

  7. >I hear you brother, Preach!!

  8. >You are quick to criticise them in the vein of childish tribal politics but you are not doing the grown up thing and suggesting any alternative course of action that could be reasonably followed. Generations of students have tried peaceful protest, demos and lobbying and it got nowhere. They have tried using their votes to get what they want but when they vote for no fees they get MPs who betray their pledge and then vote to triple fees.So when politicians behave in such a duplicitous manner don't feign surprise when some students resort to tactics that were successful against the poll tax.

  9. >The Lib Dems made a pre-election promise not to raise tuition fees. I presume many students and lecturers voted Lib Dem. The party is now supporting a raise in tuition fees. Why would they not be angry, and where is the misunderstanding here? Not only that, but given the power the LibDems now have, it would not be beyond imagination for them to refuse to support this government policy. They have failed to do so, which makes there u-turn even more difficult to believe/stomach. Perhaps someone could explain to me what pragmatic reasons have inspired this u-turn and do economics now dominate ideology. If this is the case, and ideologies change on the basis of what we are told to be essential economic reasons, how on earth will we decide on who to vote for in the future?

  10. >There is now a plan here in Sheffield to get a recall petition going, whether it's officially recognised or not. It may well get the numbers. That will hurt Nick. Listening to strategy in the pub after the march, dissenting Lib Dems are the target, as they are the ones that can stop the fee rise. This is so much more then just a mindless protest.There are some parts of the Browne report which are positive, but I was there yesterday for the simple reason that £9000 is too much- the cap must stay. 24 hours later, it's clear that the violence was a disaster for the protest, which had amazing numbers of people but was ruined by leftists who hijacked it.

  11. >WELL SAID SIR!If anyone on that march (and I'm sure there were some) truly had actually read the actual proposals for HE that are soon to be voted on and almost certainly passed, and had considered that the poorest 30% of graduates will pay less, that the maintenance grant and loan are being widened in scope and deepened in value, that the repayment system is progressive, and that there will, after all, be both a soft AND A HARD CAP, and still after all that reckon that just because of the real-money fees rise (that you'd have paid for in tax if you didn't in fees) that it's worth a protest march, and don't mind selling out to the partisan rubbish touted by NUS in the process, then fair play. But by my estimates that's about 10-20% of the protesters. The rest seemed to have little clue what was going on apart from that may as well kinda protest something and yell pointlessly instead of contributing to the debate.And to those of you questioning the libdems over this, I say this. The lib dems planned to abolish tuition fees. They make up 1/6th to 1/5th of the government. Let's look at what the conservatives were going to do on their own. NO CAP – NO PROGRESSIVE REPAYMENT SYSTEM – NO RAISING OF THE AMOUNT YOU HAVE TO EARN BEFORE YOU REPAY ANYTHING FROM 15 TO 21K PER YEAR – NO INCREASE OF THE LOAN OR GRANT. So let's treat that as where the LibDems had to go from, that's their starting point in their anti-fees mission. And with just the tiny share of government they have, they've delivered us a cap, a lower soft cap, the 21K/year repayment threshold, an abolition of any upfront fees, special review boards to make sure the most expensive universities are being open to students form all backgrounds, more maintenance loan, more students receiving said loan, and the same for the maintenance grant, and, most importantly of all, a progressive repayment scheme where the poorest 30% will PAY LESS (so any argument that anyone will be "priced-out" is stupid, because anyone who might have been vulnerable to that before will PAY LESS NOW.) So I think the libdems have done a bloody good job so far. If you want no tuition fees at all elect a full libdem government, or vote to give us a fairer electoral system so that your votes actually count. And glance at labour's proposals, what they would have done if they'd remained in power. I don't need to go into it. But rest assured the Liberals are still the only party fighting for a fair deal for students. Up until now they've actually been able to DO NOTHING because they have been in opposition, and now they have a tiny part of government they have already started to DO A LOT MORE THAN COULD REASONABLY BE EXPECTED given the size of that share in government. So anyone who reckons they've sold anyone out in any way at all is clearly deluded.

  12. >Nick Clegg isn't fighting for students. He isn't talking about compromise, he is talking as if he believes in the Tory plans. You could argue that he's trying to show an agreeing face because he's doing super clever undercover work charming the Tories and getting them to compromise, but politics doesn't work like that.At this point it benefits students more to give up on the Lib Dems, have a lot of their votes go to Labour, and get a better deal on tuition fees. And trust me, I didn't want Labour back this soon.

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