Political Promise

Protests Went Over The Line Attacking The Royals

In David Brownsey-Joyce on December 15, 2010 at 9:13 am

David Brownsey-Joyce wonders why the criminals that attacked members of the Royal Family during protests against fee rises were not shot.

Last week saw what could be described as an ‘act of treason’ as criminals targeted members of the Royal Family during protests, timed to coincide with the vote in the Commons on higher education fees.

I was amazed by two things when I heard the news, firstly that the Royal protection unit allowed themselves to be drawn into a situation beyond their control, secondly that they did not open fire on these criminals who were attacking the heir to the throne, and therefore the state itself.

The political inquest into what happened has already begun with everyone offering their opinion on why this incident happened and the game of ‘pass the blame’ begins.

Myself, I have a simple idea, basically some individuals intent on violence and hijacking a protest on a subject that will affect every single young person considering going to university now or in the future, found a high profile target and lashed out.

A mob descended on two individuals who have no power to influence the decision on higher fees and thereby completely destroyed any good done by peaceful protesters, completely taking the spotlight away from those that broke pre-election promises, away from the key arguments and just destroying any hopes you had of reversing the decision.

The mob yielded to their primal nature, to blame those that are different, to lash out when angry. They showed that they belong nowhere near a higher education institution, where you should be looking to expand your knowledge, all these individuals showed was that they were animals and that they should be locked up for the rest of their lives.

Let me make it clear that I am not against the right to protest, I agree that increasing basic fees to £6,000 in most cases and £9,000 in the extremes is too much without changing the entire nature of higher education. It makes me proud to hear about anyone standing up for what they believe in, to march, hold vigils, sit-ins, to debate the issue; but it makes me cringe when anyone damages property, defaces monuments, or threatens individuals.

This minority hijack the debate and it is only by tackling these extremists that you can move the debate onwards, as was the case when schoolgirls protected a police riot van in central London during earlier protests; these were the images that projected around the world. Young girls in a human ring, standing tall against a violent minority, standing up for what they felt was right. That is an image which inspires others to act.

This week, we have pictures of a Royal car being targeted, attacked and the Duchess of Cornwall being jabbed at by a criminal with a stick. That is the defining image of these protests, a caveman attacking someone; it joins the image of a fire extinguisher landing close to police officers, having been thrown down from a roof by someone who abandoned his reason. These images make others cringe and gasp.

If close protection had opened fire on those attacking the Royals, as was probably their next option, we would be seeing a different set of pictures dominating the debate. Instead they look measured and the victims, of course there will be resignations to go with this episode, and a formal enquiry is happening to make sure that it never happens again; but really it was the individuals that chose to act.

We are all responsible for our own actions and whilst you may be angry at those that curse future generations to crippling debt before their working lives even begin, you choose how to make your point; will you choose to do it through logic or will you choose violence as your medium?

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  1. Thought I do share your objection at the Royals being a (sudden) target by a bunch of randoms who were part of the fees “protests,” I would not call them criminals, just yet. I saw some re-runs of the incident and some did chant “off with their heads” which I think will have legal/prosecution consequences for probably 2 reasons 1) threat of death and 2) disturbing the peace since the target is the heir to the throne.

    I think Simon Jenkins article in The Standard the previous night said it all. Jenkins basically dismissed the protesting students as having no justifications for protest. I agree with his view. As I am more informed about tuition fees, it seems like the story is along the lines that yes 9,000 pounds, but people won’t start paying it back until they start earning 21K and above? I need to confirm that, but that seems like an acceptable and workable deal, in this economic situation.

    I think attacks on Parliament (The Commons side) and HM’s Treasury can be legitimate when the justifications are there. I am opposed to reckless (European style) destruction where private properties are targeted and torched like in Rome (usual setting) or not so long ago in Paris (another usual place).

    Ah, back to the Jenkins article he said that the student protest was not to be treated as some kind of serious threat that would require some sort of exceptional police “review” in order to hatch out more robust responses. I agree. I think those security consultants and Met Police should shut their faces about “more” security and wanting to use all sorts of hideous control and riot police tactics. The event in London recently was nothing compared to what happens elsewhere in the world when it comes to riots.

  2. I am amazed that you advocate for the perpetrators to be shot. You propose lifetime incarceration (in this context) for “anyone who damages property, defaces monuments, or threatens individuals”. What, I wonder would be the punishment for murder and rape in your ideal society? As this deeply unedifying article progresses, it seems that the social ideal is intimately based on the precedent of Ivan the Terrible and the ramblings of Benito Mussolini.

    • Aaron,

      I do state that the close protection for Prince Charles could have opened fire should they have felt that his life was threatened.

      I do not at any point advocate any form of sentencing with regards to any other action within the wider context of the protests in this article but rather point out that the defining moment for the protests will now be a negative rather than a positive action.

      Kind regards,

      David Brownsey-Joyce

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