The recent dismissal of some student demonstrators as ‘feral’ by political leaders is yet another instance when this word has been used to demonise the younger members of society.
It’s particularly galling when the Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, says that word and then you consider that he used to be a member of the infamous ‘Bullingdon Club’; a society of privileged, wealthy, reckless young bucks who thought little of undertaking petty pranks of vandalism and destruction for the thrill of escaping the clutches of the police and authorities.
But isn’t that what growing up and being young is all about? Don’t most young people go through phases of rebellion, petty shoplifting and involvement in political demonstrations? Ask the politicians themselves what first drew them to politics.
Yes, there were people at the demonstration there to cause trouble and start a riot. Yes, with some irony but much more annoyance, one in particular was a privileged young rich kid who appears to have nothing better to do. I’m surprised the Bullingdon representatives haven’t sent him an application.
But not everyone there was out for trouble and we mustn’t be led to believe that by either the politicians, the police or the media, because that is just plain lazy on ALL their parts.
I went to demonstrations in my youth and the same happened then; it was always a minority, and when you’d been to as many demonstrations and football matches as I had by my early twenties, you could spot these wankers anywhere. Which was odd, because, by that time of the late 1980s and early 1990s, many of these events were also attended by the local police who would be taking photographs of us and filming the ‘demonstrators’ or ‘fans’. You’d have thought that if I can spot potential ‘aggro’, they could too. Perhaps the photos were a bit grainy, eh?
Then, police resorted to the ‘thin blue line’ or mounted horses to ‘control’ the crowds. A wall of chubby, uncompromising policemen with identification numbers hidden from view. When the demo was over, they’d probably end up reminiscing, fondly, over a warm drink about how this reminded them of the miners’ strike but without all the overtime.
These days, they’re using a new practice called ‘kettling’; the idea behind this being to contain a crowd within a confined area, against their will, whether they’re a trouble-maker or not, and detain that crowd for hours. It’s a bit like being trapped on an overcrowded train that doesn’t stop or serve drinks to appease the angry mass. The only difference is that if you complain on the train, you don’t get arrested or beaten up.
I honestly thought that those days of ‘police brutality’ were over. How naive of me! I thought that one of my favourite jokes was no longer applicable – How many policemen does it take to break an egg? None; it fell down the stairs.
Now, there are outlets such as You Tube to display footage or the extreme actions used by the police, but the authorities are adamant that the police are correct to do what they did to curtail this anti-social and potentially-damaging behaviour. I don’t disagree with force being used to deal with serious offenders who are determined to ruin the intention of the event for their own ends. However, to suggest that everyone involved in a demonstration is somehow guilty and, therefore, should be made to experience and endure this treatment seems unjust. And I hate injustice.
However, that’s another argument for another time. I’m still confused as to why young people are always demonised and made out to be some force of evil who, some believe, have it all too easy. How many times do we hear that their exams were easier than ours, they have more luxuries by comparison, they expect more, they’re lazy and always sleeping their life away and they’re bad mannered? Come on, people. That’s ALL teenagers, isn’t it?
Weren’t YOU like that? If not, maybe that’s the problem. Young people have a lot to deal with and if they do expect more and have more luxuries, then that’s our fault for spoiling them and not teaching them the value of things and the appreciation of circumstances. Our fault; not theirs.
Their exams aren’t easier; that’s a myth. I hated exams at school AND after school in colleges and universities because they expect you to remember everything you’ve been taught, almost parrot fashion. I would have loved assessment as it would have played to my strengths rather than just awarded high grades to people who can remember things.
There is a good reason why younger people need their sleep. Their bodies are working overtime to deal with all the changes they’re going through. Puberty and development into an adult is a very difficult and significant stage in life. Of course, you’re going to be tired with all that activity; even when you’re asleep, your body is going through all kinds of processes. So sleep while you can; before the mournful clodding of real life catches you and ties you down to direct debits and the false promises of politicians.
Somewhere between David Bowie’s ‘All You Pretty Things’ and ‘Changes’, the answer most probably lies. And Bowie never used the word ‘feral’ in those songs.
So, let’s not demonise our youth; let them flourish and decide for themselves. History always teaches us that the human race continues to make the same mistakes because we have to experience the inevitability of our failure for ourselves.
Instead, let us examine WHY people were demonstrating to cause this upset and torment?
People took to the streets to demonstrate against politicians who went back on their word. Their WORD, ladies and gentlemen; something that we, the normal people or the little people, give as our own personal guarantee. We had to endure the griping of politicians who signed a pledge NOT to increase tuition fees and then, within six months, went back on that pledge, even stating regret at ever signing it.
If you were THAT remorseful, you’d call another election so we could reappraise our own minds and opinions, you’d do the decent and honourable thing. Or is that the right honourable thing? Come on, what if we regret our initial voting decision, and insist that you tell us the truth this time? Can you appease us?
And please remember that you’re lucky that this isn’t France because, if politicians try this sort of stuff, they have been known to get a very rough ride.
Of course people are angry. I’m livid. Not that you lied; I expect that from politicians. We feign disappointment and surprise in equal measure when we discover that a politician has been lying or deceitful in their actions. But, let’s be honest to ourselves, we KNOW they lie. Another old gag; you know when a politician is lying to you because their mouth is moving. That’s not the reason for my ire.
No, I’m cross because there seems to be an endemic acceptance of failure these days. There is no punishment if politicians fail. And I am talking here about immediate punishment.
What do I mean? Well, allow me to explain. If you or I go to a job interview and assure the panel of prospective employers of our capabilities to do the job and then get that job, we are assessed on our performance.
If, after six months, it transpires that we’re out of our depth, unable to do the job or that we lied about our capabilities, we can get sacked, or demoted or undergo a disciplinary action; there are consequences to our actions.
However, politicians rise from the ashes like a shit-stained phoenix to carry on with their woefully incompetent and misleading ways.
There’s no immediacy involved. Sure, they might lose a post but they remain a politician and, yes, we can elect them out of their seat but that’s only if we remember by the next election time. By then, they’ve have ample opportunity to feather their nests and line up employment without ever having to worry about the consequences of their actions or the fact that they’ve misled people. After all, they can always say that they made the best decision ‘at the time’ and hope that time presses on and stops looking at them and pointing.
The worst case scenario for them is that they lose all chance of employment and are forced to receive a massive advance in order to write their memoirs.
It’s been done before; Tony Blair as Prime Minister and the hundreds of thousands who marched to say that they didn’t want to enter a ‘war’ with the USA against Iraq. Once again, the politicians knew best and did what they thought was best at the time. That all blew over, didn’t it?
So, now there are demonstrations and the politicians suggest that the police have a difficult job as it is without all these trouble-makers. Yes, because you keep cutting their resources and manpower and introducing laws that anger people. But to call young people feral and not address your own failings and deliberate lies is wrong.
My other annoyance is that the people who make these decisions to charge for higher education, in many case, received a free education. Education should be seen as an entitlement rather than a luxury. An educated nation is better than an uneducated one, it stands to reason, and it can only be a good legacy for a country that no longer appears to make anything that we strive to better ourselves in preparation for the hardship ahead.
If the politicians who voted yes to the increase in fees and not just them, all those politicians who agreed to this move away from free education over the decades, were THAT committed to this premise, then I would expect, at the very least, that they refund the state, the cost of their own individual education in terms of how much it would cost today. That money could be accumulated to provide a bursary for those people who cannot afford to pay for further education and spend the majority of their adult life with a state-imposed debt weighing them down.
You talk about setting an example and yet you allow lying and false regret to cover your own inadequacies to hide those falsehoods. Yes, fine examples, just don’t expect my confidence or vote at the next election.