by Phil Taylor
Yesterday, and earlier in the month when rather larger numbers caused mayhem at 30 Millbank, the young people involved in the student protests were being taken for a ride by a small number of politicised adults. Those adults are a rainbow alliance comprising mainstream Labour figures, from Ken Livingstone to Andy Burnham, through to anarchists, Green Socialists, Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party with financial backing from unions. No doubt each group think that the other groups are their “useful idiots” but are happy to be temporarily unified to fight the hated ConDems. Isn’t it great that it is not just the Tories having to take the blame for Labour’s mistakes?
A key figure in London yesterday, and at Millbank where she has admitted to being on the site, was Claire Soloman. She is a 37 year-old “student” who has spent by her own admission most of the noughties involved in left wing politics, including 4 years as a member of the Socialist Workers Party. It is not clear that Soloman has ever worked. She is the president of the University of London students union (ULU). Soloman learnt her revolutionary ways, and make no mistake Soloman describes herself as a revolutionary, at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies which is a hotbed of SWP recruitment and activism. As president of ULU Soloman was the figurehead of yesterday’s march in London. She even managed to get a free slot on the Radio 4 Today programme to promote it.
A large element of yesterday’s demos was sixth formers notionally protesting about the loss of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). The EMA is not an inalienable human right, it is a boomtime boon that was only fully rolled out in 2004/5 in time for the 2005 general election. It is not surprising maybe, given EMA’s design as a classic Brownian dividing lines policy, that mainstream left figures including Ken Livingstone, Andy Burnham and Polly Tonybee have been quick to voice their support for the Save EMA campaign. Who?
As part of its rolling news coverage yesterday afternoon BBC Television News interviewed a spokesman for the Save EMA campaign. Regrettably the BBC failed to explain that James Mills from the Save EMA campaign is a Parliamentary researcher to John Robertson MP. Sky News was similarly duped by Mills after Millbank and Mills appeared on Tony Livesey’s Radio 5 yesterday with our own Tim Montgomerie without acknowledgement of his day job. The 26 year-old is rather too old to be in receipt of EMA. It appears that Mills “devised” the Save EMA website and I think we can assume that is the extent of the organisation.
Another player in the London protest and many of those around the country they claim, is Youth Fight for Jobs. This is a campaign being run by the Socialist Party (don’t make any jokes about the Peoples’ Front for Judea). Notably it is backed with union money. Six union backers at the last count who have learnt not to rely solely on the Labour party to promote their interests.
The Greens were at it too yesterday. The BBC’s coverage of the Liverpool march identified Lewis Coyne as “one of the organisers of the Liverpool march”. It seems that Coyne stood for the Greens in Liverpool as a local election candidate earlier this year. Coyne also seems to represent Liverpool School Students Against War.
The saddest story yesterday was perhaps that of Edward Woollard, the 18 year-old who coincidentally pleaded guilty to throwing a fire extinguisher off the roof of 30 Millbank. He faces the prospect of five years in jail. I would not excuse his actions, he clearly has a nasty streak in him that he needs to learn to control. He will though now have a life and career blighted by one hot-headed action. The twenty-something and thirty-something activists who constructed the situation in which he found himself are way too smart to get caught themselves.
For me the standout voice yesterday was the quietly spoken Shamima Blake, a 16 year-old London student, who appeared on Newsnight. She stayed at school yesterday. She clearly explained to Jeremy Paxman that you only have to repay the higher fees once you leave university and earn over £21,000, declaring “I’m pretty fine with it”. Follow this link <insert link to iPlayer below> and move the slider to 25.45.
This picture taken by a Scottish Green in Edinburgh yesterday gives a pretty good clue as to what is going on. Note the green, black and red flag with anarchist symbol, the same symbol that appeared on the front of that police van yesterday. With Labour in opposition the Peoples’ Front for Judea have made peace with the Judean Peoples’ Front and the broad left is busily working away to radicalise a new generation of young people exploiting the traps conveniently left behind by the last Labour government. If a few policemen are injured and young people like Woollard have their lives blighted that will be an acceptable price to pay for the new socialist dawn to come.
I hope that young people listen to Shamima Blake and not to the rent-a-mob types that are trying to lead them astray.
Phil Taylor is an Ealing Councillor and blogger