School children at a protest march against the swingeing cuts and rising fees join hands to prevent any more damage being done to a police van that had already almost been tipped over onto other protesters. These girls represent one side of the student protest, and one we can all be proud of.
A more difficult, but very real element is the violence, from those whose anger has been brewing long before any cuts to spending or raising of fees were confirmed. Some young people seem to have joined in partly for the sake of having a go at the police, the everyday face of the state.
Imagine you’d developed a suspicion of authority because your family had been falling through the cracks for decades. Then suddenly EMA arrives, you’re entitled to it, and you decide to go on to 6th form. You feel like maybe things are changing, maybe the government cares about you after all.
Now that it’s being scrapped the damage won’t just be seen in our schools and universities but in our social cohesion, our sense of possibility and social mobility. Dialogue about yobs hijacking middle class protests and disgraceful schoolgirls wreaking havoc is threatening student unity before we’re even getting started.
Our young people need to acknowledge the anger but keep it peaceful, and stay united. We want equal treatment, we should extend it to each other.