50 000 turned up to the NUS demonstration in Westminster on Wednesday. But how to irreverently classify them?
– The Rather-Upset-Middle-Classes : Principled, determined and frightfully peeved. In truth this was probably the most populated category, and in truth I was definitely the archetype. Knowledge of what we were actually protesting about ranged hugely amongst us. Some were genuinely irritated at the perceived stupidity of the Coalition, and concerned for the future of the education system. Some were there because a day out in London is jolly exciting and it’s not every day you get to stick it to the Man in a risk-assessed environment.
– The Very-Upset-Sort-Of-Victims : What I’m carefully trying to say here (and bear in mind I’ve bravely admitted to being one of those very middle class types) is these were the people who were less likely to have popped into Waitrose on the way to Westminster. They were also the people that were even less likely than the previous bunch to be able to afford a £27 000 three-year degree. Ironically, the system of grants means some may actually be in a stronger position if fees are raised but now we’re getting dangerously technical. Like the Rather-Upset-Middle-Classes, their day was peaceful.
– The Anarchists : Dressed in black and with their faces concealed by masks and scarfs, this group did stick out a bit. But not as much as I stuck out in my bright orange Southampton shirt as I found myself in the middle of a huge black bloc of them at one point. Like the rest of the protestors, these guys marched peacefully to start with. It must be difficult though being an anarchist in our state-controlled society; sometimes you must wish you were just able to break free and, well, cause some anarchy. Oh look at that building filled with Conservatives over there. To be fair there was no way the police could have ever predicted the Tory HQ would be in danger from a vociferous mob waving signs saying “Tories: Putting the ‘n’ into cuts”.
– The Lord of the Flies Re-enactment Society : The anarchists at least are pretty open about what they stand for. This lot were a bit more coy. Posing as members of the Rather-Upset-Middle-Class or Rather-Upset Sort-Of-victims, as soon as the opportunity presented itself they revealed themselves to actually be very, very naughty and unleashed havoc in the Conservative Party Headquarters, smashing the system as well as the odd window. Or, as I suspect, they were actually just tired and hungry plonkers with a usually-suppressed taste for mild violence who conformed to every Crowd Behaviour theory in the Psychology textbook and got excited by the loud noises and collective cause.
– The Really Frustrated : I didn’t actually meet any of these people but I’m sure there must have been a couple of them who joined in at 30 Millbank building. With a weary knowledge of previous educational reforms and the small effect previous protests have had on policy, they reluctantly concluded that a bit of disruption is the only way politicians will take any notice.
– The Bouncy Man with the Megaphone : Deserves a category to himself. Bounded about the protestors hoarsely screaming chants based on 80s Power Ballads with the odd word changed to “cut” or “Clegg”.