Student riots are back – and they’re infecting the Left

Posted on March 3, 2013

The anti-everything student movement has plenty of practice at shooting itself in the foot. Attacking war memorials, smashing up taxpayers’ property, even burning down Christmas trees – you name it, they can turn it into an incident which discredits their already confused message.

It might have seemed reasonable to hope that after it turned out rioting wasn’t a good way to get Middle England on their side, they might have changed tactics.

Not a bit of it.

Occupy Sussex, the Sussex University branch of the Occupy Movement, are up in arms about plans to outsource 10% of the University’s admin. While their issue of choice isn’t exactly the moral equivalent of Tsarist serfdom in Russia, it doesn’t seem to have stopped the usual suspects rushing to rally against outsourcing and for “communism” instead. Eevidently the fresh air of Sussex is a febrile, revolutionary atmosphere.

For some reason, this has turned into a national student demonstration, held today. The ever-sharp Chris Snowdon raised the first concerns over the weekend that perhaps it wasn’t set to be the most productive event humanity has yet seen:

And, lo, it came to pass. What started with the usual pompous slogans…

…moved on to smashing up University buildings…

…burning files from Barclays…

  ….and, inevitably, trite comparisons between themselves and Martin Luther King…

All in all, an impressive way to discredit their own argument, waste taxpayers’ money and divert the police and fire brigade from what they are meant to be doing. This trend of legitimate (if wrong-headed) lefty protests turning violent is a serious problem for so-called “progressive” campaigners.

Owen Jones wrote this morning  that the Left needs a group as effective as the TaxPayers’ Alliance – which is why he is launching the People’s Assembly this week. Owen may be wrong about almost everything (apart from the TPA’s effectiveness), but he’s not stupid – he’s already declared his new movement will be mainstream, and reject the malign influence of the cult which is the Socialist Workers Party. He wants to build a hard-hitting but respectable movement.

His problem is that almost the whole of the Left has now been to some extent infected by the unattractive attitudes and behaviour on display at Sussex University today. For example, here is a paid campaigner from Unite – one of the main backers of Owen’s new gang – inviting the Occupy Sussex rioters to speak from the People’s Assembly platform:


This just isn’t going to go away. Unless he and other prominent left-wingers denounce the violence and the burning that a growing number of lefties seem to fetishise, I suspect Owen’s bid to make socialism mainstream and acceptable will never leave the runway.



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Categories: Opinion, Politics, Westminster


7 Responses

  1. Chris:

    Why is this post dated 3rd March?

    25.03.2013 18:53 Reply

    • Mark Wallace:

      An annoying glitch I’m trying to fix…you’ll see on the frontpage the post has the right date, as does the hyperlink, but for some reason it’s started giving the wrong date within the post itself, sorry!

      26.03.2013 09:40 Reply

  2. Aparat:

    If the Barclays documents were on University of Sussex property, that suggests they weren’t Barclays documents, but common or garden statements and correspondence, which will earn Barclays a pretty penny re-printing and posting.

    D’oh!

    P.S. Nice of the Muslims to write in English.

    25.03.2013 20:17 Reply

    • Mark Wallace:

      Still not convinced that makes lighting fires in communal areas ok…what happened to Student Unions’ much-vaunted “safe space” policies?

      26.03.2013 09:41 Reply

  3. SadButMadLad:

    The problem is that though Owen Jones thinks he is creating a “People’s Assembly” for the people, the people will not care much it. The campaigns that the PA will carry out will be for the benefit of those who are already on his side. Real people and workers don’t think much of campaigns for better chairs for diversity officers. The difference is that the TPA work on stuff that people find annoying such as politicians wasting money. It doesn’t matter if asked that the same people would still like tax payers money spent on social care. The TPA work on the basis of a base emotion – envy. The PA will attempt to use philosophical emotions which are only understood by those who have PPE degrees.

    25.03.2013 22:49 Reply

    • Mark Wallace:

      I disagree, SML – the TPA work on hard facts, not “base emotion”. It’s not envy that means people oppose paying huge rewards for failure to senior public sector managers – it’s the fundamental process of accountability, seeing whether your money is spent properly.

      I do agree the PA will almost certainly price itself out of the normal political discussion, but it won’t be through being too intellectually accurate. It’ll be through the rash of incomprehensible statements drawn from meaningless lefty cant: “check your privilege”, “progressive society” etc

      26.03.2013 09:43 Reply

  4. Aaron D Highside:

    ‘Owen may be wrong about almost everything…but he’s not stupid’. Want to reconsider that, Crash?

    26.03.2013 08:17 Reply

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