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The Left’s lost decade Ten years ago, when Tory HQ was stormed, a new political faction was born

Students and police clash at Millbank Tower, Conservative Party HQ, 10 years ago this week. Dan Kitwood/Getty

Students and police clash at Millbank Tower, Conservative Party HQ, 10 years ago this week. Dan Kitwood/Getty


November 13, 2020   5 mins

Ten years ago, I was part of a protest that stormed the headquarters of the Conservative party in Millbank Tower. A ragtag group of school, college and university students, we came together to protest the scrapping of EMA and the trebling of tuition fees. People set placards ablaze and danced around the fires, offices were ransacked, and – famously – a fire extinguisher was thrown from the top of the building.

For those of us who had been attending protests for years, usually against austerity, this one felt different. It was exhilarating, and a far cry from the institutionally organised marches where we forced ourselves through the streets holding the prescribed banners and drearily chanting the prescribed slogans. At Millbank and in the weeks that followed, we were transformed into subjects with our own agency, and the chaos and uncertainty of those days was experienced as the opening of possibilities that extended beyond the protests themselves.

In Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher wrote that, “the tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again,” and this felt like one such event. The next day, NUS President Aaron Porter wrote an article in the Sun in which he described the disorder as “despicable” and that sharpened our swords against the ranks of careerist New Labour bureaucrats (a look at his subsequent CV is dispiriting; this class is still disappointingly employable).

The leftist magazine Tribune describes Millbank as “one of the most important demonstrations in British political history”, striking a blow at “the nerve centre of the British establishment”. They are certainly right that it has taken on “mythic significance”, judging by the numbers who claim to have been there compared to the relatively small number of people who actually stormed the Tower.

For the few weeks following, protests and occupations spread over the country, culminating on December 9 when the bill was passed and we were kettled on Westminster Bridge until gone midnight. There was no food, no water, no toilet, and the rallying cries passed from joy, through defiance and anger, to desperation. As we were finally released into the night, including school-aged children hundreds of miles from home, we had to walk one-by-one through a tunnel of riot police shining a light on our faces and taking our photo. Any face coverings, worn to protect anonymity, were forcibly removed. We had lost, and the government and police had won. We had been humiliated and it felt like the end.

But it was not. Tribune argues, rather meekly, that Millbank’s legacy lives on through its participants: “Many took on important roles as trade unionists, climate activists, Palestine and Kurdish solidarity workers, disseminators of alternative media, organisers of migrant and refugee campaigns, and senior officials in the Labour Party.” This is another way of saying that Millbank did nothing but reproduce the ranks of the professionally ineffective Left. Tribune should be more ambitious: Millbank’s real significance was much more serious. Though we couldn’t see it at the time, it marked the emergence in politics of a class faction that was just coming into view and is even now transforming our country: the graduate without a future.

During the dead period of the noughties, protests stuck to a tried and tested formula. We would march through central London, before gathering in Trafalgar Square to hear from Left-wing veterans like Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn while Trotskyist parties competed to sell papers and sign up the uninitiated. It was all pretty harmless, an alternative to a trip to a National Trust property for a different subset of the middle classes.

There was the odd exception. A year before the Millbank protests, in Spring 2009, I remember skipping school and protesting against the G20 summit in London. A window was smashed and a police officer pushed a bystander, the newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson, to his death. But this was on the way out; the tired tail-end of 1990s radicalism temporarily given a new lease of life by the recession, and it marked the last moment when the Left was defined by its opposition to globalisation. For the most part, rallies conformed to our cynical characterisation of them: not so much A to B, as A to Benn.

Millbank changed all that. We were no longer content to participate in ritualistic set pieces that achieved nothing. And it was also something new for many of its participants. This wasn’t another protest about Middle Eastern conflict, instead it related directly to our material conditions.

In the months and years that followed, a new class consciousness was born. Not among the idealised proletariat but among the immiserated sons and daughters of the middle class. Of this new set, the Deterritorial Support Group were the sharpest. They pranked the world media into believing Slavoj ĆœiĆŸek and Lady Gaga were close friends. They exposed Johann Hari’s plagiarism and accused him of “policing the boundaries of acceptable thought” and the liberal-left as representing the “left wing of capital.” One of their members explained to the Guardian that “without the specific historical and economic conditions I live under, I don’t feel I would be involved in this sort of thing.” Instead, he would “probably have a mortgage or something”. More often than not their agitprop stung because it was accurate.

And it spoke to the depths of our radicalisation and disillusionment with mainstream politics. The coalition government implemented the reforms but in truth they were coming even if New Labour had clung on in the 2010 general election. This was a bipartisan reform implemented by a generation who had paid nothing for their education. To top it off, the Liberal Democrats broke their pledge to oppose any increase in tuition fees. This had a prolonged effect on a generation’s trust in mainstream politics and Nick Clegg’s disappearance from the UK scene and new career as Silicon Valley executive can be understood as a form of exile – if not a particularly painful one.

Millbank was our year zero. Some of the DSG had voted for the Lib Dems in 2010, and one had even been a member. It was the disenchanted demographic to which they belonged that propelled Jeremy Corbyn to his leadership of the Labour Party and without it he may never have won in 2015. Instead it would have been Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham managing Labour’s decline.

Yet 10 years on, the movement Millbank gave birth to has crumpled. Its predictions – that scrapping EMA and trebling university fees would put off poor kids from college and university respectively – have been proved wrong. The Left has descended into internecine conflict and the policing of individual behaviour. The collective joy and mutual self-interest of those early days has gone. There is a distinct irony that this radical energy was assimilated by the electoral project of Benn’s most loyal acolyte. With that comprehensively crushed in December and Jeremy Corbyn suspended from the party he led, it is hard to see how the fragments of the new Left can pick themselves up again.

The old Left is back to where it started, too, with a few thousand members spread across a few dozen organisations. Were it not for the coronavirus restrictions, I have no doubt that they would be organising their next ‘march against pandemic austerity’, the placards would be out calling for ‘the people’s vaccine’, and the paper sellers of the Socialist Workers’ Party would be setting up their stalls in Trafalgar Square in search of new recruits…

And yet, though the more interesting elements have dissipated, something has changed. The Left is formally defeated but it remains – in its cultural form – more influential than ever. Many of those radicalised at Millbank have graduated from higher education institutions and are reshaping our national political discourse. At the expense of a playful politics of collective self-interest, however, has come the importing and regurgitating of the life-draining successor ideology from the United States, an ideology which every power we claimed to be protesting against 10 years ago has embraced wholesale.

In 2010, we felt as though we were at the precipice of something real. History was re-emerging from its long slumber and it was finally possible once again to imagine radical futures, as Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams attempted to do in the briefly influential Inventing the Future. Their book, published in 2015, seemed at the time like the beginning of a newly ambitious Left modernism. We can see now it marked the end of a short chapter. Today, the Left is shattered and poses no serious alternative to liberal, capitalist modernity. That challenge comes from the Right, while the Left is reduced to dragging cultural institutions ever further down the rabbit hole of intersectionality. What a long, strange trip it’s been.


Tobias Phibbs is writer and director of research at the Common Good Foundation


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Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago

Completely forgotten about it. It changed nothing except to confirm once more that violence is the Left’s default mode of protest. One should note that the fire extinguisher narrowly missed a passer by. Pathetic prats.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton

The whole article speaks intensley to me and my lived experience. I feel the writer is describing a universal political journey virtually all of us go on, and so can deeply empathise with…it’s called growing up.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Mate, I grew up way way back. I’m 69 and a contemporary of all the hard left wankers like that prat Corbyn who have done nothing but try to take down the country for 50 years. Politics fixes nothing and usually makes things worse. I guess so many Lefty blokes go into it as they can’t get girlfriends.

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Luckily, from my point of view, there are other ways of growing up and thus many of us didn’t have to experience what you term a “universal political journey”.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

Universal my arse. Have you ever been outside north London?

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

Old left, new left, red left, blue left – they all miss the point.
For 30 years (indeed arguably since Big Bang in 1986) an alliance has developed, by accretion, between the Big Money people on Earth and the mixed various forces of the Political Left.
‘An ALLIANCE?!!!’ you cry in disbelief.
Yes. Both share paramount objectives in the short and middle terms: mass immigration and unaccountable government.
Big Money wants cheap labour and no-one interfering with its levers of social control (e.g. social discourse networks heavily policed to prohibit awkward revelations).
The Political Left desires to see the traditional demographies of the Occident diluted, then overwhelmed by mass importation of Third World people who will (as in parts of Latin America) always vote Far Left, however much successive Marxian kleptocrats keep ruining their countries.
If anyone wants to champion the Common Man and Woman nowadays, they need to see this as the key battleground – the People versus those extremely cynical and self-serving interests.
Populism is now the politics of the true underdogs.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Exactly, and both New Labour in the UK and the Democrats in the US became enthralled with Big Finance and globalisation, utterly betraying their traditional supporters. I have just read the book ‘Listen Liberal’ by Thomas Frank on this subject as it relates to the US.

Biden was the Wall St candidate and he will tack back towards Big Finance and globalisation etc after Trump at least offered some hope and some jobs to the American working class.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Underpinning a lot of the nonsense Trump said and tweeted was quite a lot of good sense. He was on the right track in so many ways, it is a shame he was such an obnoxious git. America will regret not giving him 4 more years, after which he would have had to be replaced one way or another.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

“He was on the right track in so many ways…” name one.

Take your time, details appreciated.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

His antagonism to China, his recognition that C-19 is a Scamdemic, and his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Surely you haven’t already forgotten these achievements?

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Also: Defusing the situation with North Korea, facing down Iran, huge progress in the Middle East, record levels of employment – especially among black Americans – a booming economy (until Covid struck), and no foreign wars.
Not too bad, really.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

you missed one…an incumbent POTUS and a LOSER.

From John Adams to George H.W. Bush, ten Commanders-in-Chief throughout U.S. history have run for re-election and lost.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

What he said about Islam for one.
His real COVID three pronged strategy for 2
Getting people back to work for 3.
Standing up to North Korea for 4
Confronting Chinese unfair trade subsidies for 5
Encouraging UK to stand up to the EU for 6
Kicking the woke thought policy out of administrative bureaucracies for 7

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

what specifically did he say about Islam?

what were the three prongs you imagine he had in his Covid strategy?

“Standing up to North Korea for 4.”…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

WTF is “…the woke thought policy…”

Simon Holder
Simon Holder
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Giving the People a voice, trying to stop vested interests corrupting free speech; calling out political lies; cutting taxes; re-shoring American industries to help the American workers; standing up to Chinese dumping; achieving a peace settlement between Israel and Arab states; standing up to Kim Il Jun; forcing the Iranians to stop creating fissile material; supporting Brexit and democracy… That’s 11 off the top of my head but I could go on and on. And it didn’t take long, either.

Marcus Millgate
Marcus Millgate
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

At the top of my head..
Before Covid struck, US unemployment rate was 3.7%, amongst Blacks & Latinos it was 4.2%, the lowest for 50 years. The gap between whites & minorities was the smallest on record…
https://edition.cnn.com/201
. Trump brokered peace deals between Israel & Bahrain, Israel & UAE, Serbia & Kosovo. Israel & Sudan ensuring Israel is recognised.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

The Political Left desires to see the traditional demographies of the Occident diluted, then overwhelmed by mass importation of Third World people who will (as in parts of Latin America) always vote Far Left, however much successive Marxian kleptocrats keep ruining their countries.

Except Latinos voted for Trump in record numbers. It’s almost like they’re not mindless zombies solely out to destroy everything you value, or something.

But hey, if you want to keep insulting and alienating an ever-growing demographic, who am I to stop you? I’ll be over here trying to convince my fellow liberals to not do the same.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago

Biden won 66% of the Latino vote, the exact same number as Clinton in 2016.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago

Typical NAXALT argument:
“Not all “X” are like that”. Never convincing because nobody was actually saying that they were. As the saying goes, it only takes the vast majority…

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Except Latinos voted for Trump in record numbers.
so did blacks and perhaps gays, yet Trump still got nowhere near to majorities of those groups, either. I agree with you that these groups are not zombies, yet the left loves to attack the ones who stray from liberal orthodoxy. It’s funny, really; no one expects white people to vote as a bloc but those same people invariably view minority groups as a herd.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“Except Latinos voted for Trump in record numbers, so did blacks and perhaps gays.”

you sir are a lying sack of trump.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

“Manners maketh man”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

He wasn’t insulting immigrants. He was explaining his understanding of the rationale underlying the left’s advocacy of continuous mass immigration.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

you really need to brush up your reading for comprehension skills.

anyone who can veer from “Big Money wants cheap labour…” to “The Political Left desires to see the traditional demographies of the Occident diluted, then overwhelmed by mass importation of Third World people…” is clearly not playing with a full deck.

Big money’s desire for cheap labour is in league with the Political Left’s scheme to dilute the demographies of the Occident that is QAnon orthodoxy and certifiably looney tunes.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

May I ask, is English your native tongue?

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

so you are saying you haven’t gotten over being butthurt…you shouldn’t be here if you can’t deal with being intellectually challenged

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Is that a no?

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

“…Third World people who will (as in parts of Latin America) always vote Far Left…”

well that is just wrong…from ProPublicaby Jeremy B. Merrill for ProPublica, and Ryan McCarthy, ProPublica Nov. 12, 5 a.m. EST

“In Florida, where President Donald Trump gained crucial support among Latino voters, his campaign ran a YouTube ad in Spanish making the explosive ” and false ” claim that Venezuela’s ruling clique was backing Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“YouTube showed the ad more than 100,000 times in Florida in the eight days leading up to the election, even after The Associated Press published a fact-check debunking the Trump campaign’s claim. Actually, Venezuelan President NicolÃ¥s Maduro expressed opposition to both presidential candidates.”

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Quite right. The election of Joe Biden and the “resignations” of Cains and Cummings from Downing Street are both victories for the alliance between big business and the leftist establishment that actually runs governments. We poor, deluded voters have little or no real influence on who runs our countries or how they are run.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

“Populism is now the politics of the true underdogs.”

QAnon’s raison d’ÃÂȘtre and their justification for burning down 5G cell towers which clearly is the cause of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Stephen Williams
Stephen Williams
3 years ago

You only succeeded because the police allowed you to. So then, sensibly, you should ask why did they let you get to the top of Conservative Headquarters? The answer is the Police wanted to send a message to the Conservative Party. So as fired up and enthusiastic and idealistic as you were, actually, you were being used. Which is a shame for you and a deep Shaming of those who led the Police.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

‘They pranked the world media into believing Slavoj Ă…ÂœiĂ…ÂŸek and Lady Gaga were close friends.’

My God! The pillars of the Establishment must have been tottering!

Brilliant parody (I assume).

Rob Cameron
Rob Cameron
3 years ago

Too many mediocre students completing too many mediocre degrees with a ‘Desmond’ 2:2. Blair set a target of 50% of 18 year olds to go to University without thinking how that would be paid for. The Department of Education comes in behind only the NHS and the various arms of the Welfare State in terms of spending; it’s an enormous budget that can’t cope with the expectation. Time to stop this nonsense of a virtual 18+ education system. Cut the number of University places in half, cut the loans and the rest can study in the evening, after work, if they are so inclined.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Cameron

If only 2:2’s were that common. Grade inflation means that whilst the ability level of the average student has been in decline for at least the last 30 years, the number of firsts and 2:1s has continued to rise. I am rather embarrassed to admit that I work in higher education and I can see this for myself. Indeed, most of the time when I second mark other teachers’ marking, I feel like I am fighting a battle to maintain at least some sort of decent standard. It may be unnecessary to add that the calibre of teacher has fallen in line with the quality of the student. Maybe if people like the author of this article conceded this reality, we could have an honest debate about higher education.

Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly
3 years ago

I did read the whole piece, but was tempted to abandon at Para 2:

“For those of us who had been attending protests for years, usually against austerity, this one felt different.”

This about a demonstration in 2010 – UK Austerity was initiated in 2010!

Is the rest of the thinking in the piece equally loose?

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Kelly

New Labour was the breeding ground and Blair the father of austerity.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Really? Explain please.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

New Labour was the breeding ground and Blair the father of austerity.

that is all…

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Platitudes, more details please, and do try not to be crude, it is so unladylike don’t you agree?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Blair and Brown were the grandfathers of the most insane levels of spending – on nothing useful or effective – that the country has ever seen. Cameron was the son who made a few cosmetic attempts to rein in excessive spending at the family business, and Johnson is the grandson who will bankrupt the business once and for all.

Tom Griffiths
Tom Griffiths
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The ‘useless’ spending was the QE after the banking crash. In effect a colossal stock buy-back. The health service spending and juvenile court spending had a big impact on waiting times and the resultant suffering- for millions of people.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Griffiths

Worked so well we’ve jolly well gawn and dun it again. With knobs on.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Kelly

Whatever it may have been it was not austerity. We were still spending more than we took in, just less egregiously.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Kelly

Thinking? These people don’t think.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
3 years ago

I wonder if the author would have written the same article had the fire extinguisher hit and killed someone.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

Yes, he would have written the same article. Unless, that is, the fire extinguished had killed the writer.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

‘Yet 10 years on, the movement Millbank gave birth to has crumpled. Its predictions ““ that scrapping EMA and trebling university fees would put off poor kids from college and university respectively ““ have been proved wrong.’

They have, but not for the misguided ‘noble’ reasons you probably like to think you were fighting for at the time.

Blair insisting that the world and his wife should all go to university played wonderfully into his levelling up, ‘equal opportunities for all’ narrative in the late 90s, but it has proved, like so many of this man’s and his party’s policies, to be a disaster in the longer term for this country.

Playing into the enduring aspirational middle class obsession might well have been a vote winner back then, but it created a generation of ‘over-educated’, over-entitled individuals with forever insufficient commensurate jobs for them to go to and, far worse, a permanent, glaring, but crucial, unskilled and semi-skilled jobs gap which he and his successors would later choose (or be forced) to expediently fill by availing themselves to the max of the benefits of the EU’s so-called free movement.

Little wonder then that we also saw a corresponding explosion in bullsh*t jobs during the Blair years that depressingly continues to this day.

‘White collar’ jobs, a good many that amounted to leeching off those in the productive economy but were rarely of any practical use and jobs that frequently came at huge cost to the public purse, plus a generation of disaffected youth forced to take jobs many now saw, quite wrongly, as ‘beneath them’ due to the debt funded university education that they were reliably informed was supposed to guarantee them of avoiding such an ‘ignominious’ fate.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago

No one has defined “left” more pithily than one of the Marxist left’s foremost sponsors Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock Inc, Agenda Contributor, World Economic Forum, who spoke with feeling of ‘The intersect between COVID, Climate and Racial Justice: the three great issues of our time.’ Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t have put it better.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Sean L

“Know thy enemy”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

“They pranked the world media into believing Slavoj Ă…ÂœiĂ…ÂŸek and Lady Gaga were close friends”

Good gracious me, whatever next.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Well Zizek and Gaga make about as much sense as each other, so it wouldn’t surprise me they were very good friends.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I completely agree.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago

“Ten years ago, when Tory HQ was stormed, a new political faction was born”

RIP new political faction, then. Exactly what difference has it made to ANYTHING?

Tim Knight
Tim Knight
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton

It destroyed a perfectly usable fire extinguisher.

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
3 years ago

Haven’t laughed so much in ages. Son the greatest achievement of you and yours is an 80 seat Tory majority and the alienation of Labours traditional supporters. You really don’t get it, very few people are interested in your facile politics.

Simon Holder
Simon Holder
3 years ago

As I started reading this, I thought, “Here we go again – another smug, self-justifying Leftie trying to find the meaning of life.” By the end of the article, I was happy that he had been forced to grow up as he admits the Left is in disarray. Yet my smiles were nonetheless tempered by the fact that these moneyed, self-satisfied ‘enfants terribles’ are now part of the global Marxist campaign even (or especially, should that be?) espoused by the World Economic Forum. With cancel culture, wokism, gender politics and the assault on free speech rampant, with no recourse to debate or difference of opinion, these clueless nasties are, indeed, taking over the world. Slowly, but still… Biden is the useful idiot who is typical of this trend. Very disturbing.

Anglica Bee
Anglica Bee
3 years ago

“Today … That challenge comes from the Right.”
If only.

Robert James
Robert James
3 years ago

Couldn’t help noticing that most of this piece is written in the passive voice, e.g.

a fire extinguisher was thrown from the top of the building…

Consciously or otherwise you are distancing yourself from the events you claim to have taken part in. I wonder why.

alex bachel
alex bachel
3 years ago

I find it depressing that so many of these self-professed and supercilious people end up working for foundations or NGOs instead of doing something productive.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  alex bachel

Yes, there seems to be an endless supply of non-jobs for these completely useless people. It is one of the great scandals of our time.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
3 years ago

Hannibal kettled the Romans at Cannae.

Alexander Morrison
Alexander Morrison
3 years ago

I think Tobias Phibbs should read Peter Thonemann’s article about the protests in the TLS here. It gives a clear-eyed analysis of why the violent attack on Millbank Tower was such a terrible idea. The students sabotaged their own cause.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
3 years ago

Write a book then, start a movement, stick two fingers up to all the modern left, embrace Tom Paine or the levellers show the modern left how full of shit and corrupt it is and reconnect with decent values.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Ah the joys of youth where responsibility and reality have opt outs! I am pleased that the writer acknowledges the tuition fee policies that he and his chums fought against were Gordon Brown govt policy, albeit with bi-partisan support. Why did he not react with such destruction and violence against the person (throwing a fire extinguisher at random targets!) when the Brown govt made and published the plans to stop EMA and triple tuition fees?

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

“… the graduate without a future.”

our global future when AI joins forces with quantum computing and makes 40 percent of the global workforce redundant.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
3 years ago

The reference to Grateful Dead’s lyrics in ‘Trucking’ remind that ‘them and us’ has been going on in this country at least since 1066, yet not just the latest revolution but the one GD rode on were ephemeral. Yet another head of the Left hydra has departed its shoulders. The explanation offered is that the “Left … poses no serious alternative to liberal, capitalist modernity”. This shows the need to analyse why the capitalist model is so tenacious. Maybe expecting mass societies to work like a barter group in the Garden of Eden, where everyone knows everybody and a benign all-knowing all-loving head gardener is always on hand to smooth out the wrinkles, is just fantasy – or worse, in communist, theocratic and other totalitarian regimes. Maybe capitalism’s success lies in that it is, in the words of graffiti I saw in an underpass at Sussex University, “a system based on the denial of people” (I lie, actually it read ‘love’ not ‘people’, although maybe that’s not such a bad alternative). You might ruminate on that.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
3 years ago

Dear UH

“R Rate 0.9″ Say Official CSS ðƾ˜³ WHY Are We In Lockdown Boris?
YOU tubr /watch?v=GIBfzDy2PbU

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

Should have gone to Tufton St.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago

A masturbatory article from a masturbatory section of society.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

Re the reference to increasing numbers of disadvantaged going to university, they may be going but are all they staying? They are not.
The drop out rate amongst disadvantaged students was 2% higher at the last count according to YouGov. The drop out rate generally is 6 out of a 100 on average, 8.8 disadvantaged drop out.
Beware of looking at one set of figures and ignoring what follows.

Neil Bradley
Neil Bradley
3 years ago

I was quite taken by the way the participants eventually made a living on protest platforms. What a waste of talent.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago

‘This was a bipartisan reform implemented by a generation who had paid nothing for their education’ sorry to say it again, but it was a generation that paid nothing because they did not have access to higher education at all. Only 5% of school leavers went on to university back in the day. Those freeloaders were upper class almost to a man, and a few women. The idea was that tuition fees would make it available to all, and it has.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
3 years ago

The old argument sometimes heard from those priveleged with a modern degree education is that everyone else should pay for it, even people who have not gained such an advantage. Instead everyone else without a student loan should really be campaigning for a similar “no win – no fee” loan based on the same terms. Though it may be an indicator of the poor way in which we educate our kids in practical matters such as cooking, basic plumbing, bike maintenence and personnel finances etc. but I really hope the silent majority of kids appreciate that is not too bad a deal and give uni a try if they are so inclined.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Craddock

Yes, the answer to the problem of graduates without a future is to not go to Uni unless you’re going to gain knowledge that will help you do well at work.

There is a massive blind spot in a society which claims to be so focused on equality, yet still looks down on tradesmen & basically anyone without a degree.

While I don’t regret going to University, a school friend who had to leave after ‘O’ levels to support their family income has worked in the same industry as I do and all through the years our incomes have been very similar. Ironically that friend is currently employed at a Russell group uni and advises the academics on tech.