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Kettling the kids

Written By: - Date published: 8:46 am, November 27th, 2010 - 22 comments
Categories: education, uk politics - Tags: ,

I’ve been meaning to write about the unrest in the UK for some time – but here’s a great summary from I/S. — r0b

The UK government is currently trying to balance its budget by shifting costs onto the young, through a trebling of university fees. This will prevent many kids from poor families from going to university, and they’re not happy about it. High school and university students walked out of their classes across the UK today in protest, marching in the streets and occupying university buildings (usually with the support of staff). Deputy Prime Minister David Clegg was hung in effigy outside The Guardian offices, where he was due to speak. In London, the students tried to march on Parliament, but the police, having learned nothing from last year’s G20 protests and still locked in a mindset which sees the public as the enemy and protest as sedition which must be violently suppressed, kettled them. Thousands of children were trapped in the freezing cold for hours, denied their freedom of speech and their freedom of movement. The result was entirely predictable: broken windows, fires, a vandalised police van, and more than a dozen arrests for violent disorder.

That’s the thing about kettles: they raise the temperature and pressure. That’s why both the Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the UK’s Independent Police Complaints Commission recommended the tactic be discontinued. The London police have ignored those recommendations. And they have only themselves to blame for the results.

22 comments on “Kettling the kids”

  1. vto 1

    Back in the mid-00’s it was feared the world of debt was unsustainable and that the house of cards would collapse. This wold then lead to governments doing all they could to prop up the system in order to preserve their own power and not get voted out. This would of course fail and the meltdown would continue, leading to political unrest. (this was my own view anyway).

    It has pretty much panned out exactly like this, with this UK turmoil fitting the last part of the pattern.

    What would happen next was a little uncertain in my mind except that the unrest would lead to ruptures and changes in the geopolitics world etc.

    The last part is being played out now. The world is changing beneath our feet. Pack the sandbags, load the stores, keep the ammo at hand. Or a version thereof.

  2. Carol 2

    It was the belief amongst my friends who experienced kettling back in Thatcher’s time, that it wasn’t a strategy to contain violent protest as claimed, but a strategy of provocative policing. After significant violent retaliation by the protesters, the Tory politicians can use the media images of it to demonise the protesters.

    But on the video of the protest that I watched on The Guardian site, there were differences of opinion amongst the demonstrators as to whether they should be trashing the police van, left aboandoned in the middle of the protest. One protester said, that the police van was rusty and had been left there deliberately so the protesters would trash it. The aim of this being to produce negative images of the protest for the media.

    Some young students will be put off by the violence and buckle to the Tory will. But many of these young people are being politicised, and will be developing a cynical and critical attitude towards the way the police and media support the might of the Tory establishment.

    • ianmac 2.1

      The news report that I saw focussed on the one or two who were trashing the van and the smashing of windows. Clearly students are just a bunch of whining vandals! They deserve nothing! Funny how in NZ unions and beneficiaries are portrayed in the same tone. A conservative strategy?

      • Bill 2.1.1

        The Hun, the Yellow Peril and the Red Under the Bed, the Muslim as extremist, the feminist as man-hating lesbian, anarchism as chaos…maybe a conservative strategy, but not one limited to the Conservatives.

    • M 2.2

      At G20 police provocateurs mingled with the protestors to ramp things up but were busted because of their police issue boots:


  3. freedom 3

    I am not going to get into any dialogue on this today as there is a lot to do, but simply remind everyone that this is an engineered collapse of our society by an unelected authority .

    Government or Public? it does not matter to which you belong. We both get our orders and have dutifully carried out our naive and ignorant roles. As Mr Zimmerman says, ‘you gonna serve somebody’ .

    History is overflowing with lessons we choose to forget or for some reason actually ignore.
    It is time to wake up and stop the unnecessary annihilation of our liberty.

  4. Jenny 4

    The Wall Street Journal’s take on the London protests is that they were “mild” in comparison with other European anti-austerity protests.

    UK student protest “mild” according to the WSJ.

    “Though the violence was mild by the standards of recent protests in European countries such as France and Greece, the day marked the first major round of what is expected to be a period of large-scale protests against the Conservative-led coalition government’s budget cuts.”

    capcha – “continuation”

  5. Jenny 6

    Particularly interesting and worthwhile is the following link to the New Statesman;

    Young and Scared

    This link is valuable as is it from the front line of the student protests, by a young woman writer laurie Penny.

    capcha – “principles”

  6. Jenny 7

    NUS Exec. split over Millbank occupation

    While the media has given huge coverage to the few student leaders who have condemned the Millbank occupation as violent and the work of a few outsiders ie non-student extremists.

    Other student union leaders have signed a statement in support of the Millbank protests.

    We need unity to break the Con Dems’ attacks – Stand with protesters against victimisation.

    Says the statement.

    As part of a deliberate policy to demonise, isolate and victimise the students who who made it into the Millbank building, the Main Stream Media has ignored this official statement from NUS leaders supporting the MIllbank occupation.

    The statement goes on to say:

    “We reject any attempt to characterise the Millbank protest as small, “extremist” or unrepresentative of our movement.”

    The statement was produced by Mark Bergfeld, who sits on the NUS NEC.

    As well as being signed by student union leaders the statement has also been signed by Alex Callinicos, a professor at King’s College London.

    The statement accuses the authorities of indulging in a witch hunt and calls for solidarity with those arrested, and states that the charges of violence are overstated.

    “A great deal is being made of a few windows smashed during the protest, but the real vandals are those waging a war on our education system.” says the statement.

    Union Representatives Signed Statement in Support of Millbank Protests

    capcha – “usually”

  7. Pascal's bookie 8

    Good write up at Lenin’s tomb


    with a nice compile of footage from the Groaniad.

  8. Jeremy Harris 9

    I’m still waiting for I/S to respond to LS who says he pretty much made the post up:


    • Carol 9.1

      LOL, LS doing a selective, ideologically driven blog criticising I/S for a selective ideology-driven blog. I/S’s views aren’t just those of the SWP, but of many journalists who were present, including those of some Guardian and Independent articles I have read, and letters from parents, lecturers and students to the papers, not to mention first hand reports in publications like the New Statesman.

      The students were protesting, not just against rises in tuition fees, but cuts to things like disadvantaged student maintenance grants. Also there is concern about plans to access, many social science, arts & humanities courses, and in a context where it’s going to be increasingly harder to get jobs.

      This Guardian article puts the protests in context:


      Naturally, it suits ministers and the coalition-supporting media to portray the student protests that kicked off a fortnight ago with a 50,000-strong march in London as either spasms of mob violence or the self-indulgence of privileged youth. Nick Clegg tried it on again on Tuesday night, claiming the mantle of social justice and telling protesters to “listen and look” at the government’s student loan package “before you march and shout”.

      But not many students are going to listen to a man who has done a 180-degree about-turn on his pledge to oppose any increase in tuition fees – or take seriously his boasts about social mobility, when the wealthiest will pay less and polling already shows the new fees discouraging most would-be students from deprived backgrounds from going to university at all. Nor are many people who saw today’s images of London school pupils protecting a damaged police van likely to be taken in by attempts to portray the mass of protesters as hooligans.

      Instead the students have offered an inspiration to a public largely stunned into passivity by the scale of government plans to dismantle Britain’s welfare system and public services. Drawing on the experience of school walkouts and student occupations during the Iraq and Gaza wars, the new student activists have also focused on issues that bring together working class and middle class – just as the ongoing street campaign about Vodafone’s tax avoidance has helped dramatise the hollowness of the government’s insistence that its deficit can only be closed with job-destroying cuts in services.

      Regardless of fringe rucks, these protests are more likely to lay the ground for wider public and industrial campaigns than frighten them off. And they come at a time when the resurgent international crisis is cutting the ground from beneath the coalition’s own argument for deep cuts – and strengthening the case for a change of direction.

  9. Tigger 10

    You vote for nasty, brutish government, you get nasty, brutish policies… Honestly England, did you learn nothing from watching us for the past two years?

    • AlbatrossNZ 10.1

      That’s not completely fair. The UK has been stuck with FPP and it’s people have had to bear it. There were more people that voted labour and libs than conservatives. But the way FPP panned out the conservatives held the power balance.

  10. anarcho 11

    Great pics here:


    …although the article is unsuprisingly shite. The revolution is going to be fashionable at least!

  11. anarcho 12

    for those with a particular interest in this fight, this site seems to be the focus point for organinsing/announcing etc:


  12. Gotham 13

    “Scotland Yard is under pressure after video footage emerged of police officers on horseback charging a crowd of protesters during a demonstration against increases in university tuition fees, 24 hours after they denied that horses charged the crowd.”

    Here’s The Guardian link with the footage of the charging mounted police. Totally sickening.


    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      You cannot trust the statements that the authorities release.

      Now when you look at the sentence I just wrote above, you know we are all in deep shit.

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