banlieues

This account of the recent protests against tuition fee increases in the UK is fascinating, especially given its source: the Economics editor of the BBC’s flagship current affairs program, Newsnight.

Any idea that you are dealing with Lacan-reading hipsters from Spitalfields on this demo is mistaken.

While a good half of the march was undergraduates from the most militant college occupations – UCL, SOAS, Leeds, Sussex – the really stunning phenomenon, politically, was the presence of youth: bainlieue-style youth from Croydon, Peckam, the council estates of Islington.

[. . .]

When there are speeches, the university students often defer to the working class young people from sixth forms, who they see as being the main victims of the reform. With the Coalition’s majority reduced by 3/4, as I reflected earlier, it is unprecedented to see a government teeter before a movement in whom the iconic voices are sixteen and seventeen year old women, and whose anthems are mainly dubstep.

I have no idea how accurate this account is–I’m a long way away from the protests myself–but it would be quite something it it were. The protests against the initial introduction of fees (which took place when I was at university) were nothing like this.

Meanwhile, the picture of Charles and Camilla’s shock at being caught up in the melée, and their realization that they are perhaps not so insulated from ordinary people as they may hope, is quite extraordinary:


Frankly, this may be the only good reason to have a royalty still: to provide images such as this one.

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