The new politics: Student riot marks end of Coalition’s era of consensus


Tory HQ wrecked in worst street violence since 1990 poll tax riots

Students involved in the siege defended their action, claiming that a peaceful march would have been ignored. One very well-spoken 16-year-old from

Worcestershire, named Alex, had been up on the roof and was wearing his scarf across his face in a rather feeble attempt to hide his identity. He thought the violence was justified “as long as no one gets hurt”. “This is fucking amazing,” he said. “You should go up on the roof. It’s chaos up there: they’ve graffitied all over the walls.” He added: “I want to study journalism when I finish school, if I can afford it. People are really pissed off.”

Andrew Speake, a 23-year-old Chinese studies student in Manchester, described what he saw as “a necessary evil”, although he added: “The best way is not violence, it’s debate and argument.” But Emily Shallcross, a sixth-form student in London, added: “The violence was frightening. It felt like it got out of hand and people didn’t expect it to get that bad. But I think it has made a big impact – not that they won’t put up fees, but now society is aware that we won’t stand by and do nothing.”

Simran Hans, a first-year English literature student from Manchester, said: “Education should be free: a rise in fees will deny people a universal right. I don’t know if my family would be able to support me if the fees were more. Everyone who is in politics now benefited from free education.”

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