Fires burning, eggs thrown, windows smashed, activists with scarves across their faces barricaded into a marble-clad lobby after exchanging punches with police, all to chants of "Tory Scum". Feels like the 1980s here at Millbank Towers.
Protesters are shouting: "Nick Clegg, we know you, you're a fucking Tory too."
Footage of Nick Clegg promising to scrap tuition fees was met with chants of "wanker, wanker", while Sally Hunt, UCU's general secretary, led the rally in a cry of "You say Tories, I say scum."I know it's slightly irresponsible - the rightwing newspapers will feature this isolated violence as though it was common and representative - but I have some sympathy. Compared with the French and the Greeks, a few broken windows is nothing, and perhaps a useful sign of the depth of feeling about this crude and reactionary policy. (Suggestions that I'm leading the chants are unfounded - but I hope they got 'Tory Scum' from meticulous reading of Plashing Vole).
Unfortunately, it was probably orchestrated by one of the ridiculous micro-splinter-sects that gather around any demo. They probably think it's the first blow in the people's uprising, and it just isn't.
I'd prefer a mass outbreak - an invasion of parliament or something like that. A few idiots breaking windows can be used as rightwing propaganda, whereas the lesson of the Poll Tax riots is that ordinary people can be provoked into disorder if the cause is just. A meaningful attack on a well-chosen target is political - a few broken windows is little more than vandalism.
Back to the 1980s is good: the Tories and their Lib Dem butlers need to realise that they don't have the consent of the population, no matter how often they repeat 'we're all in this together'. It's clear we're not: the poor are going to suffer much, much more.