British tuition fee protests: lecturers back 'magnificent' student rioters
Pretty much as expected from the many far-Leftists -- often Trotskyites -- teaching at British universities
Lecturers at one of the country's leading universities were roundly condemned last night for praising students who rioted at Conservative Party headquarters. Academics at Goldsmiths, University of London, justified the violence by saying it had brought the tuition fees row "media attention across the world".
In a statement branded "irresponsible" by Downing Street, they said they wished to "congratulate staff and students on the magnificent anti-cuts demonstration". It was signed by John Wadsworth, the president of Goldsmiths lecturers' union, and its secretary Des Freedman, a lecturer in communications and cultural studies.
It also emerged that a lecturer from the University of Sussex who was among the protestors is a prominent member of the left-wing socialist group Revolution, which began planning "direct action" weeks ago. Luke Cooper, 26, an assistant tutor in international relations, described Government buildings as "legitimate targets for protest and occupation".
Fifty people who were arrested during Wednesday's riot on Millbank, near the Houses of Parliament, were released on police bail yesterday as officers began the lengthy process of identifying offenders from CCTV and television news footage.
David Cameron called for the "full force of the law" to be brought to bear on hooligans who left 41 police officers injured and smashed up three floors of the building that houses the Tory Party office. Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, called for an attempted murder charge to be brought against a protestor who threw a fire extinguisher from the roof of the building, injuring two officers who he said could have been killed.
But the lecturers from Goldsmiths made no reference to the injuries suffered by police and some students as they gave the protest a glowing report. "Yesterday was a really good natured but equally angry demonstration against the damage that the coalition is doing to higher education," their statement said. "Yes, that got out of hand, but yes, it also got media attention across the world."
The National Union of Students and the academics' body the University and College Union, who organised the 52,000-strong march through London, described the violence at Millbank as "deplorable" and "despicable".
But the Goldsmiths lecturers dismissed the criticism, saying: "We wish to condemn and distance ourselves from the divisive and, in our view, counterproductive statements issued by the UCU and NUS leadership concerning the occupation of the Conservative Party HQ. "The real violence in this situation relates not to a smashed window but to the destructive impact of the cuts and privatisation that will follow if tuition fees are increased."
David Davies, a Conservative MP who is also a special constable, described the statement as "absolutely disgraceful". He said: "Anyone with views like that should not be in a position to educate young people. There needs to be a full investigation."
James Haywood, communication and campaigns officer for Goldsmiths students' union, was one of five of the college's students arrested at the scene after occupying the roof. He said: "I have no regrets. The occupation of Tory HQ was completely justified."
David Graeber, an anthropology lecturer at Goldsmiths who was among the protestors, said he was "very proud" of the students, adding: "They are going to represent us as thugs but really they are the thugs and we are representing civilisation."
Mr Cooper denied being one of the ringleaders of the attack on Millbank, but said: "We want to send a really strong message to this Government that we are not going to let higher education be brutalised. "There are a number of different Government buildings in that part of London and all of them would have been legitimate targets for protest and occupation. There was a lot of anger. There has always been the plan for.direct action after the NUS demo."
Nick Herbert, the minister for policing, told Parliament the Met would "learn lessons" from its failure to station enough officers along the route of the march, which enabled rioters to storm Tory HQ virtually unopposed.