Joke. But it isn’t funny

Here’s an old joke from back in the pre-PC days…

“Did you hear the one about the Venusian1 who went to a drive in movie? He didn’t like the film so he slashed the seats”

1 Insert risible nationality of your choice – Irish, Andalusian etc, whoever they make jokes about in your community.

Did you see the “student protestors” in London on Thursday? They reminded me a bit of that joke – we don’t like the way the country is going so we’ll smash up public property…which belongs to us anyway, and will be repaired using public money which we can’t really afford.

Of course most of the violent ones weren’t actual student fees protestors at all, they were just professional yobboes looking for an excuse to cause trouble. Not that that totally excuses them – everyone knew there was going to be trouble and violence at Thursday’s demo, so even the “innocent” ones who weren’t there to cause any trouble were validating the trouble by their presence. And as for those who thought that the causes of poor students would be furthered by smashing up the Cenotaph and terrorising pensioners, burning public property, throwing rocks and banners at Police horses, and scattering poorly-written graffitti everywhere, I’m lost for words.

For the student fees themselves – yes, it’s tough on the students of the future. Meanwhile, the changes in public sector Ts and Cs are hard on public sector workers – those who still have jobs. Increases in VAT are going to hit everyone (although the better-off slightly harder), commuters are being hit by reductions in fare subsidies, and austerity measures are going to make life less glamorous for all of us. The pain of austerity must be shared equally among everyone – and that includes students.

And while I know she’s not representative, I can’t help quoting one student who spoke on the news last week: Following the announcement of the approval of fee increases, she complained “This means I can’t afford to take a year off before I start university”. Well, I couldn’t afford a year off after I finished my A levels, and after thirty years working I still can’t. So excuse me if I think there might be bigger problems.

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