A UK Christmas Carol for Students Past, Present and Future?


A modern tale of ‘Ebenezer’ Clegg , featuring the spirit of Student Past, Present and Future.

Abandoned by Clegg, the Spirit of Student’s Past , Present and Future warmed themselves around the open street fires of London’s tiny streets. Some took blankets, others shared food and still Clegg gave them nothing. Nothing that is, but lies.

As the World’s press gathers like old Crows on the cold, grey streets of London this winter, in the hope of some more mindless destruction, unnecessary violence and all round minority anarchic mayhem , I wonder which has done the most long-term damage to our country? Nick Clegg or the recent Student Protests?

The naivety of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats in their U-turn over student fees, can only be termed unacceptable, spineless and dishonest but it was just that, ‘naive’. Mr Clegg and the Liberal democrats were caught up in the hedonism that was all their Christmas’s Parties at once. Amidst the excitement they seemed to forget they were the ‘weight’ in a hung parliament. Distractions such as meeting some of the most prominent people in the world and opportunities previously reserved for those who had achieved their position on merits, not by default, meant the little matter of policies and manifesto’s seemed to have been afforded only lip service. As we know, unbelievably Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister. This feat would only be surpassed in Ann Widecombe winning ‘Strictly’or Wagner ‘X Factor’

In the desperation to secure this status, principles and promises seemed unimportant. You might say this has been historically true of many Politicians but Clegg and his party’s failure to stand fast on this issue is what has led to the nation’s students vying for their blood. Clegg, himself a product of British Education and a Cambridge graduate will have studied amongst friends who would have benefited from government grants and subsidies at the time.

Student Past was a well-educated, hardworking and happy student. Undeterred by a future of unemployment and the knowledge that one day Clegg would come to call, he studied hard in the hope of change.

A student at the height of the 1980’s opulence of Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher’s Government, Clegg is alleged to have been a member of the University’s Conservative Society, something he has since denied. Perhaps the former Ski Instructor would plead ‘Political Survival’ to his friends of ‘Student Past?’ It certainly seems to be a trend. Better still, depending on the wind, he might claim ‘egg on one’s face’ to be ‘part and parcel of one’s role as Deputy P M’. Unfortunately, this is certainly a bit more than egg of one’s face. It is very wrong.

‘Student Past’ would certainly have had fewer worries over the ‘repayment of loans’ than ‘Student Present’ and ‘Student Future’ . When all was said and done, fees were paid by grants or independently in advance of their learning. ‘Student Past’ certainly benefited from free education in this way and their only debts were amassed in the bar. The legacy that they left was an expectation for all and unfortunately expectation takes no account of circumstance. Equally ‘Student Past’ would have worries about Career Opportunities.

Student Present had happily studied, knowingly with a future of debt and little chance of exceptional career opportunities. He too, hoped for changed. That is until one day, when the sound of ivory met with that of oak, a man in a cape came calling – it was Clegg.

What about ‘Student Present’?

It is claimed that many of those protesting in London are the students of today and as such, they are immediately unaffected by these cuts. For that reason, it is commendable that they speak up for those, perhaps too young to do so in this way. It is also commendable that the youth of today find their voice in protest. Though the manner of some of the protesting is equally wrong.

What is concerning me about ‘Student Present’ is the violent and destructive way in which some of them have carried out this protest. It seems also that masked protesters causing this unnecessary demolition, are only visible to the media in London and it seems none of this type of thing occurs in more provincial locations. Had it not been for the case of ‘Edward Woollard’, an 18-year-old A Level student throwing a fire extinguisher into the crowd from a high-rise office block, perhaps I may have believed this to have been actions organised by other politically motivated groups. After all, historically these kind of political tactics are the domain of the working classes. Thankfully Mr Woollard’s actions did not have the effect of a similar event in 1985 when a Taxi driver was killed when a block of concrete was thrown down on his car from a bridge as he drove a Miner to work in South Wales, during the Miner strikes. Regardless of that, as people, educated or not we have not learned a thing since then.

None the less, I believe that some of the students involved in this are themselves young and may have been coerced by other protesters who may have been older and certainly should have known better. Certainly when young people see someone behaving in such a way, on occasions it makes it easier for them to follow their lead.

These actions in protest are simply not acceptable and make a mockery of free speech and regardless of who, why and what, it is a certain fact that the actions of Student Present are having a serious financial affect on our country. How many Police are deployed in these protests, how much revenue in tourism is lost, how much damage has to be paid for and more importantly, where will we make cuts to pay for this? This really is not a sensible or educated way to protest. It does nothing to effect a change for the better.

The current situation for ‘Student Present’ is that they continue to be in debt following graduation and for many years in to their career. That is of course, if Student Present is British and remains working in the UK. Ironically for none British European students, who qualify for the same loans and who return to their home country, it is unlikely the government have the necessary systems in place to recover their investment. A legacy left to us by the last Labour government, which in itself leaves us with a deficit of millions of pounds. While Brown and Blair bickered and ignored each other, money was spewing from our coffers.

In conclusion the whole mess has been a combination of mistake, mistake, and mistake, It seems Historically this is something British governments have excelled at and the British public as ever, are left to foot the bill.
Those who should be held accountable are not those making the cuts, but those who’s negligence has led to them in the first place. Nick Clegg and the Liberal democrats should hang their heads in shame for their cowardice and at very least admit responsibility for misleading their party members and voters. This cannot be an acceptable turnaround of policy in a period of what amounts to less than 5 months. The British public can not accept this. So, we hope that perhaps one day pressure will finally come for future governments to go to referendum over matters such as this. It’s unlikely the public will forget this, and the Liberal Democrats will pay the price in future elections’.

Equally, the violence and destruction by ‘Student Present’ has sealed the fate of the student fees. Students who continue to act in this manner are losing support, not just today but for ‘Student Future’ too and that is a major price to pay. This price is too high and students must find a more intelligent way to protest. This must also be a way to unite the Nation and win it’s support. Violence will never be the answer.

So what is left for Student Future?

Abandoned by Clegg, with ‘Student Past’, a distant , almost forgotten happy memory and with the days of ‘Student Present’ dwindling, ‘Student Future’ is faced with choice:

The victims of the ineptitude of the previous government, the failure of the appropriately ‘yellow’ part of the current coalition to stand by it’s principles, ‘Student Future’ will face a choice of study abroad at lower costs or pre-career debts for study in the UK.
The alternative for ‘Student Future’ may be to accept circumstance, dispense with expectation and plan your study financially in advance; the country depends on your success.

Generations of the future must bring to an end this merry-go-round of ex Westminster after dinner speaker’s. Otherwise, unlike the Dickens tale, a heart warming happy ending will not ensue and when ‘Future Student’ graduates, former Tory boy Clegg’s retirement plan of after dinner speaking and auto biographies will be in full swing and in the place of rock and roll will be coming to a Student Union Bar near you !

What becomes of Clegg, he is resigned to a haunting from the days when he denied his principles and to an old age of after dinner speaking, where he meets with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and the ‘New new Labour Lib Dem alliance is formed’. They can’t agree and John Prescott is elected as leader. Clegg resigns and later joins the Conservative party, where his is employed as Tea Boy.

What becomes of Student Future is up to you

Marley, J.

Items in bold are total fiction.

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