This shocking, unedifying and rather disturbing picture has circled the world: the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are clearly terrorised; the windows of their Rolls Royce is smashed and the car has been splattered with paint. The Heir to the Throne and his Consort appear to be in fear for their lives in what could have been a rather bloody revolution: the Home Secretary Theresa May has some awkward questions to answer. One student was heard to shout “Off with their heads!”, and it was sheer folly for Royal protection officers not to have prepared for such a serious incident on a day of known student protests. Coming so soon after the unpreparedness of the Met when the baying mob besieged the Conservative Party’s Headquarters, policing heads indeed ought to roll.
Students daub the walls of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs with profanities, expletives and the slogan ‘Make The Rich Pay’: they undoubtedly feel hard done by that their further education will no longer be ‘free’, and it suits them to perpetuate the myth that they are all worse off, oblivious to the fact that the poorest students will pay less than they do now, and that presently the poorest in society subsidise the degrees of all students through general taxation. But students are not concerned with such inconvenient facts.
The mob sets fire to the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square; an annual gift since 1947 from the people of Norway in appreciation of British support of Norway during the Second World War. When Norway was invaded by German forces in 1940, King Haakon VII escaped to Britain and a Norwegian exile government was set up in London. To many Norwegians, London came to represent the spirit of freedom, inspiration and hope of liberation. The tree has become a symbol of the close and warm relationship between the people of Britain and Norway. Norwegians are happy and proud that this token of their friendship - probably the most famous Christmas tree in the world - seems to have become so much a part of Christmas for Londoners. But ignorant students know nothing of this, and they care even less.
They beat police horses with sticks and hurl missiles at them, as though these terrified animals were somehow to blame for Coalition agreement and the resulting legislation. These devoted creatures are loyal in their duties and faithful in their service to man: and they are given no choice. ‘A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel’ (Prov 12:10). But these students don’t give a damn about the suffering of animals. They care only about themselves, their self-interest, their egoism.
Urinating against the statue of Winston Churchill perhaps sums up the anarchic mentality. These students have no respect for one of our greatest wartime leaders and the man who, in the search for the Greatest Briton, was proclaimed ‘The Greatest of Them All’. So revered and respected was he that his state funeral saw one of the largest assemblages of statesmen in the history of the world. He was the first person ever to become an Honorary Citizen of the United States, and was honoured in 1953 with the Nobel Prize in Literature. Churchill College, Cambridge was founded in 1958 to memorialise him, but students don’t care much about that.
It is one thing to terrorise the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall;
It is one thing to daub the walls of Government buildings with graffiti;
It is one thing to set fire to the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square;
It is one thing to inflict pain and suffering upon devoted animals;
It is one thing to urinate against the statue of Winston Churchill;
But it is quite another to desecrate the Cenotaph; the nation’s memorial to The Glorious Dead; to those who died in order that these students might be free to speak their mind, to assemble with their colleagues and protest for their cause.
By tearing down the Union Flag and senselessly swinging like apes from this monument to the sacred memory of the sacrifice of millions, the primitive protestors have forfeited their right to be heard in civil society. The NUS must condemn this sacrilege; they must abhor the violent disorder; they must reject the anarchy of the minority and repudiate acts of vandalism and terrorism.
And so must university chancellors, vice chancellors, lecturers and teachers.
Protests are only effective when moral reason is maintained and national sympathies are aroused. They are won only when they satisfy the common, collective interests of the people as a whole. Those who desire fairness and justice must respect the rights of others for peace and the rule of law. The revolutionaries must tolerate the patriots: those who seek change must acknowledge those who desire to maintain the status quo, for such is the social contract demanded by liberal democracy. Harm must be balanced with care; fairness with reciprocity. There must be space for sanctity and respect for authority.
One might expect England’s élite intellects to realise and understand this.
Shamefully, they do not.