As I said in reply to the comment on my previous post, I went on the university funding demo yesterday and found it peaceful and good-natured. I didn’t see anyone on the march who looked like they were there to be violent. I didn’t stay long in Parliament Square, because I didn’t want to get kettled as I was working in the evening. Although, obviously, I wouldn’t particularly have wanted to get kettled anyway.
It’s completely right that everyone is now condemning the violence that broke out yesterday evening. I don’t think such acts are ever justified. Yet a lot of the head-shaking and huffing about it that is going on today fails to take into account that violence isn’t created in a vacuum. Firstly, kettling creates violence. Anyone who feels trapped gets angry about it pretty damn quickly, myself included. You feel you would do anything to get out. Secondly, the sort of extreme anger that leads to violence is brought about by feelings of frustration at not being heard, feelings that the result of last night’s vote won’t do anything to lessen. Violence is a form of expression used by people who are either too inarticulate to express themselves any other way or who feel that other methods of self-expression aren’t getting them anywhere. Simply repeating that violence is inexcusable is not a good enough response: questions need to be asked about why people felt driven to these actions.