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:
If things turn nasty at Sussex Uni on Monday it definitely won’t be because of posters like this, oh no. twitter.com/cjsnowdon/stat…
— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) March 22, 2013
And, lo, it came to pass. What started with the usual pompous slogans…
— occupy_sussex (@occupy_sussex) March 25, 2013
…moved on to smashing up University buildings…
— The Badger (@TheBadgerNews) March 25, 2013
…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.
Owen Jones, that youthful paladin of the Left, has come up with an innovative idea: a new, left wing campaigning organisation. Why didn’t anyone think of that before?
Maybe he’s got a point – there is a total vacuum of socialist organisations in Britain. I mean, I’ve racked my brains and the only ones I can think of are:
the Socialist Workers Party, UK Uncut, Occupy, RESPECT, the TUC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, the Communist Party of Britain, the Fabian Society, Compass, the Socialist Unity Network, Socialist Resistance, Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts, Youth Fight for Jobs, the Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity, the Socialist Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, Coalition Against Cuts, False Economy, the Anti Academies Alliance, the Anti-Atos Alliance, Boycott Workfare, 38 Degrees, Campaign For A Fair Society, the Coalition of Resistance, the Other TaxPayers’ Alliance, the Public Services Alliance, Cuts Disgust, Defend Our NHS, the High Pay Centre, IPPR, Unite the Resistance, Right To Work, Lost Arts, the Labour Representation Committee, Queer Resistance, Tax Justice Network, the Fawcett Society, Left Unity, Women Against the Cuts and of course Owen’s own think tank “CLASS”.
With such a shortage of organisations, it’s clear that what Britain really needs is a new left wing outfit.
As Owen says, “it is a mystery that such a network does not already exist”. I guess it would do, if it wasn’t for all the splitters…
The Today Programme is no stranger to unfortunate mis-pronunciations – as Jeremy Hunt found out to his cost.
Yesterday, they ran an interesting piece by Evan Davis exploring the unity or otherwise of the Labour Party, and asking what has happened to the hardline Labour Left. As part of the package, Evan interviewed the posterboy of the Angry Young Left, Owen Jones.
I’m sure Evan meant to introduce Owen as a “columnist”, but listening to the recording here, it does sound as though it came out slightly redder than that…