The student occupations up and down the country, and demonstrations in London today, fill my heart with glee. This government of millionaire Hooray-Henries and Lib-Dem toadies has politicised a generation in a matter of months. Millions of left-wing leaflets, written by the finest propagandists, and delivered door to door every week for a year, couldn’t have done a better job.
The media reports on the trouble-makers, but they pale into insignificance compared to the reality that tens of thousands of people, who will almost certainly never have demonstrated in their lives previously, are out on streets, or sitting in at their college, or even the sixth-form of their school!
The vast majority of students are angry, politicised by that anger, yet have no ideology. But they manage to organise, often avoiding “kettling” and other police tactics and are prepared to fight back even in the face of violence. They have more fight in them than the entire British ultra-left, in spite of all its pseudo-revolutionary phrase-mongering.
Whatever the latest issue, there are some left groups in Britain who like to quickly form a new “coalition” with a few prominent left personalities and trade unions. Quickly, so that nobody else can get in on the act. Their modus operandi is always the same. Organise for a demonstration, get a petition going (to gather addresses for recruitment) build the whole thing to a crescendo and then let it fizzle out. Until the next new and totally different campaign comes around with the same people involved.
No real fight – no civil disobedience – and no real prospect of winning the campaign. It is as if they have found the magic recipe for defeat and stick to it religiously. It reminds me of the World Map in Denver Walker’s book Quite Right Mr Trotsky, which is titled “Countries Liberated by the 4th International”. The map is blank with the addition: “Accidentally omitted: Never-Never Land, Freedonia, Cloud Cuckoo Land, Middle Earth, Utopia, Ruritania, The Land of Oz, Big Rock Candy Mountain Land and Cockayne.”
I hope that this new wave of student radicals throws up new dynamic leaders who will connect the cuts with the banking bailout. People who will find it intolerable that the commanding heights of Britain’s economy are allowed to remain in the private hands of profiteers. People with their heads screwed on. People who will do things differently. People for whom the traditional failed ways of dead generations will not weigh like a nightmare on their brains. The left desperately needs them. And so does Britain.