Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Students protest against rise in fees; attack on Conservative Party HQ

This is quite an extraordinary story. Readers will know that the current British coalition Government will move ahead with several recommendations offered by the Browne Report, including a steep rise in fees. Fees are currently capped for British and EU students at about £3,200 per year. The new cap has looked set to be about £9,000 per year: students may well pay in one year's fees what they would have over three years previously.

It is unsurprising that students and many others are seriously concerned. But I never imagined the protests today.

One group of students even attacked the Conservative Party Headquarters in London, smashing windows and filling the inner lobby. Can anyone imagine the party headquarters of a governing Republican Party or Democrat Party receiving this treatment?

I suspect the coalition may have failed to read how deep the opposition runs to their plans. No doubt, I expect the coalition to try to use today's protests against the protesters: they have crossed a line, unreasonable and not serious, etc. But rationalizing this away will only persuade so many. The middle classes may not accept what they might perceive as yet another major cost for them to bear the brunt of.

One thing is for certain: Liberal Democrats are hoping this all blows over before the next general election.

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