The Represent of an Event in the Media 2010 Student Protests over Tuition Fees (London)
The Facts• The 2010 British student protests were a series of demonstrations that began in November 2010 in several areas of the United Kingdom, with the focal point of protests centred in London.• Largely student-led, the protests were held in opposition to planned spending cuts to universities ,an increase of tuition fees and scrapping of the EMA by the government.• Organisers said that most of the protests were peaceful, but sporadic acts of violence and vandalism were reported by authorities; protesters and police officers alike were injured, and in some cases hospitalised.
• In one incident, a motorcade carrying Their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and Camilla, was attacked, which almost resulted in bodyguards drawing their weapons. The situation raised major national security issues.• The focal point of the first demonstration involved a number of protesters occupying , a street in Westminster that houses the headquarters of the Conservative Party, and led to clashes with police during which 14 were injured and 50 arrested.• Forcing their way past the limited police presence, approximately two hundred people broke in and occupied the building, whilst a thousand more cheered and supported them from outside. These protesters lit placards on fire, and smashed windows before occupying and vandalising the reception area.
• The Metropolitan Police Service admitted that they were unprepared to deal with the occupation of Westminster, something which they had not been expecting.• During the Whitehall incident, the police publicly defended their use of kettling in dealing with the crowd to the press, with Chief Inspector Jane Connors claiming that they had only decided to use it as "a last resort" and that "its a valid tactic. Police officers came under attack and we needed to make sure the violence didnt spread out across the London streets."[• Such a claim was however disputed by MP and leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, who brought up the topic in the neighbouring House of Commons that afternoon, stating that "there are many hundreds of students and school children who have been kettled for over four hours and are going to be out there for another several hours, according to the police, in the freezing cold… whatever one thinks of the student protest, [holding people against their will in the contained crowd was] neither proportionate, nor, indeed, effective."[• Following their actions, the police came upon increasing criticism for their use of kettling, particularly due to the fact that there were large numbers of children and young teenagers in the mostly-peaceful crowd, who were held for hours in near- zero temperatures.
The Facts- The president of the National Union of Students, Aaron Porter, condemned the attack on 30 Millbank, claiming that it was caused by "those who are here to cause trouble" and that he was "disgusted that the actions of a minority of idiots are trying to undermine 50,000 who came to make a peaceful protest.- The first person to be arrested for the violence on the day was a 33 year old Primary school worker!
Who was to blame? News coverage• Many newspapers focused on the disgusting behaviour of teenagers involved in the violence ( The Daily Mail, The Sun etc…)• Many newspapers did comment that it was a minority of students but contradicted this with the use of images of violence that dominated their front pages and articles.• Some also commented on the tactics of the police ( too violent/forceful) but these articles did not appear until a few days after the protests.
Metro newspaper – front page imageStudents Megan Thomas – protecting the policevan.
• A writer in British newspaper The Guardian, writing several hours before the government vote on the topic, noted that• "It seems likely the tuition fees bill will pass but Id still argue that – whatever your view on the merits of the new fees system – the protests have been a success at least in calling politicians to account for broken pledges, something you see rarely these days.