Posted Under: Civil Liberties,Education,Liberal Democrats
“But I cannot condone any action by students which results in them taking over property or breaking the law. I would appeal to these students to leave the university building and take steps to ensure that any future protests are staged in a peaceful way.”
Let’s examine this. His statement implies that actions of ‘taking over property’ and ‘breaking the law’ and not peaceful (it’s not stated directly, but it’s extremely strongly implied).
The occupations across the UK have been extraordinary reclamations of space, turning a plethora of drab, underused university buildings into locations for organising, resisting and liberating. The discussions that have occured in these spaces over the last few weeks are worth a hundred smashed windows at the Tory HQ.; though of course we shouldn’t discount the incredible power this act had over the media and popular imagination.
It would be difficult, however, to explain how the occupations aren’t peaceful. Similarly, breaking the law in now way means a non-peaceful act. Silently blockading a doorway – as Cambridge students are doing as I write – has no element of chaos. Far from it in fact: the self-command and silent dignity of the protesters embodies the idea of a peaceful resistance.
What Huppert means by ‘peace’ is, of course, to do with peace to his own world, peace for the corrupt economy he supports, and the constitutional cock-up through which his party came into power.
In October he came out against tuition fees, trying to bring student support with him. But typically he has responded to those very grass-roots he is wooing with a condemnation of their protests against a policy he supposedly also rejects.
So, we have moved on. Cambridge’s last MP was David Howarth, a remarkable supporter of students, free education, and the right to protest in general. Huppert, on the other hand, is a perfect symbol of Lib Dems in power: trying to be everything to all people, and ending up a nothing instead.