Originally posted on The Daily Touch
As my third year of Politics at university began I started to feel as if I had not been as involved with the student political scene as I should have. As a 50 year old man who looks back on his life thinking “What do I have to show for my time on this earth?” decides to visit his nearest Porsche dealership, I decided to join a student protest.
The particular one I joined was around late November last year, rallying against further cuts across the country. It had been semi-hijacked by people calling for a stop to violence in the Gaza Strip, but telling them to go find their own angry mob seemed rude.
What first struck me about protesting was the intense anger generated by some. The Socialist Party in particular seemed to have drawn up an intriguing list of demands. Topping which appeared to be a call to “cut off the fucking Tories’ heads”. Whilst I have studied politics I am in no way an expert on the construction of political manifestos, but to me this seems unrealistic, problematic and messy.
Those calling for the removal of body parts were in a minority however. The majority had come to show their objection to increased tuition fees and further austerity cuts.
I was not disappointed once the rally started. Being part of a protest is a fantastic thing. You are one amongst a sea of thousands, with no-one particularly knowing where anyone is heading. It is the best way to understand the term “people power”. You are a people, and you feel powerful. Roads must be shut down to allow you to walk along them; you didn’t even need wheels, let alone a tax disc or number-plate. It took all I had to prevent myself from yelling “Fuck the police, no justice no peace!”
That said, the whole thing must have had the strength of papier-mâché, as once it began to rain people fell apart from the procession in damp clumps. We had already passed the Houses of Parliament and drifted into more suburban areas. Our performance had become something of a more private exhibition as there did not seem to be more than a few passers-by to demonstrate for. Those committed to the cause stayed with the parade through the oncoming storm, and those of a more fickle nature began to desert as we passed the odd café or pub.
We were among the first to go AWOL, diverging from the protest route after maybe the third drop of rain. Our shame must have inclined us to find a place far away from everyone, as by the time we finally entered a café we were sodden. Thankfully we were not the only cowards; within a few minutes around ten other students from the protest joined to share our guilt.
We crowded around one small table over mugs of coffee discussing how everything had been ruined by the weather, it all felt incredibly British. No one had much hope of change being brought about on account of our actions. It was more a rite of passage. To go through student life without complaining about the state of our own country and being a public nuisance while you do it was unacceptable.
I do not foresee ever joining a protest again, simply because I do not yet have a cause to rally under, but I would recommend every student tries it. Standing up against the government somewhere other than the seat at your computer or the family dinner table is an excellent feeling, weather permitting of course.