Simon Szreter: This is a show of disrespect for the people in defence of a duplicitous government

It has been this new politics of bare-faced lying to the electorate, led by Nick Clegg, whichhas led to the level of outrage and the volume of protesters

Share
Related Topics

Kettling is illegal elsewhere and it certainly should be here. I speak as someone who was kettled in Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge last Thursday, one of several thousand people held for nine hours at zero degrees without food, water, heat, toilets.

The widely reproduced photograph of a youth urinating against the plinth of Winston Churchill's statue during the protest over tuition fees provides a disrespectful image, but kettling represents disrespect on a premeditated, industrial scale: degrading conditions of confinement enforcing the shame of performing one's natural functions in public. Put in the same position, where exactly would the Chief Constable have urinated?

But then no police force should be called on to defend a patently duplicitous government against its own protesting people.

The vote to triple tuition fees would have failed if 28 Liberal Democrat MPs had not allowed the scent of power to overwhelm their moral judgement. The fees hike pays for an 80 per cent cut to university teaching budgets – four times the average of other departmental cuts. Not in any manifesto, this is a nakedly ideological decision, not a necessity. It was made by a Cabinet of millionaires whose own children will never have to experience its consequences.

Solemn pledges to the electorate to do the opposite – to phase tuition fees out – which won marginal seats for the Liberal Democrats and put them into this Coalition in the first place, mean absolutely nothing, apparently. Indeed, manifestos mean nothing.

The Tory strategists believe they have discovered a kind of political alchemy. The "need for cuts" licenses any amount of ideologically satisfying destruction of our public institutions and services, while the need to work in coalition means the manifestos that each party was elected on can now be discarded and ideological policies which would never have got past voters made up on the spot.

With their perfidious votes for tuition fees, these foolish 28 Liberal Democrat traitors to their own voters have provided the strongest argument I've yet heard against PR and the free-wheeling coalition governments that result. They have spectacularly cut the ground from under the policy which was their only reason and their prize for entering the Coalition. They are now, politically, a rabble.

It has been this new politics of bare-faced lying to the electorate, led by Nick Clegg, which has generated the level of outrage against undemocratic policies which resulted in a volume of protesters arriving in the capital beyond the police's resources to control.

What sort of moral example has this set to our young people? Kettling, mounted police and baton charges, and one young person lying in hospital. We are in danger of entering a downward spiral of mutual distrust and disrespect between an ideologically aggressive but politically weak Tory government propped up by the Liberal Democrats, with the police caught fair and square in the middle.

This Coalition is founded on deceit and disrespect for the electorate. It must end. We must try again. This time the parties must tell us exactly what their coalition positions are in advance of the vote, in addition to their manifestos for sole rule. And kettling must go.



Simon Szreter is professor of history and public policy at the University of Cambridge

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence