Spare me the anarchy, give me the issues


Click to follow
The Independent Online

The writer is a third year English student at the University of Leeds

The Jarrow March 2011 recently arrived in Leeds City Centre. Posters had been appearing all week to encourage students to join "Youth Fight for Jobs" in their solidarity demonstration – it's unclear how many of the 100 or so protesters who gathered were from our 30,000-strong student body, but I think it's safe to say not many. Students who returned to my Red Brick this time last year had £35m worth of cuts waiting for them. The anger is definitely there to be harnessed – we thought a vote for the Liberal Democrats was progressive and alternative, like getting your hair shaved at the sides, only to find them shacked up with Cameron.

Youth unemployment has now hit more than a million, and our siblings are having to pay triple what we did to attend university. So why is it that groups such as the Socialist Workers Party and UK Uncut have such trouble rallying the troops on campus?

Campus life is stuck in a time warp – the clothes are vintage, the music is northern soul, and student activism is still dominated by a bunch of political stereotypes even Rik Mayall would cringe over. You don't have to look far for people called Hugo telling you "the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, yah", or for fund-raising punk gigs in the back room of some grimy pub, attracting about 20 teenage dissidents wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Hurry up and die, Maggie".

That hard-core body of political students looks the same as it did 30 years ago, failing to adapt to a generation that needs more than an anarchist with a guitar to engage them. These aggressive socialists alienate the masses. The fact that higher education cuts and youth unemployment will affect every single young adult gets buried, the cause is stigmatised and your average student stops giving a hoot.

On a local level, these groups always need to raise money, whether for printing leaflets or supporting striking lecturers. If they'd just organise a club night in the city centre, offer a free WKD on entry – do something with real student appeal – they would find most do care what happens to their university, they just don't want to express it through mockney performance poetry.

So, what did you think of young writer Lucy Snow's column? Let us know at