Published on November 12, 2013 | by Caroline Schmitt


The ‘angry kids’ outside Westminster

ALN news editor, Caroline Schmitt

ALN news editor, Caroline Schmitt [Seren Jenkins]

The newsroom is currently being swamped with stories about demonstrations and angry protesters shouting angry messages towards people in power.

Anger makes for great news and who am I to question that? For my taste though, we don’t have enough follow-ups to cover because there is not enough happening after the angry kid held up a “The government sucks!” banner for an hour and then went back to Shoreditch.

We’re protesting against everything, isn’t that honourable? We’re exposing the government’s shortcomings: the excessive rise of fees, the privatisation of fees, the ridiculously low living wage, the fact that the guy who supported Putin’s anti-gay campaigns is given a show at the Barbican.

All of that is outrageous and very protest-worthy, and we should appreciate the privilege of living in a system that not only tolerates, but encourages the freedom of speech. It just wouldn’t hurt if that ‘speech’ could be heard a little more.

Quite frankly, I don’t think we – the angry kids on the street – are doing a better job than the politicians we’re so eager to criticise with rhetorical gems like “capitalism is shit”.

So that’s it? That’s the entire debate we’re having?

I’m worried that some bloke with black curls and ‘incredible’ linguistic skills is advising the young adults of this country that the only way to influence politics is by screwing the ballot, especially as his appeal seems to be so strong. Didn’t a certain Mr. Lincoln claim that the vote is stronger than the bullet? Yes maybe, but how is that relevant in 2013?

I’m worried that nobody in power can take this generation seriously, especially one that so clearly lacks substance and perseverance to stick with an issue. People will have forgotten about that rubbish protest with its “anti-everything” banners sooner than Brand will make ‘revolutionary’ headlines again.

I’m worried that nobody in this city – or this country – gives enough of a s**t to get off their backsides.

Ladies and gentlemen, are you bloody kidding me? Is this really everything we have to say about politics? I dare to remember a generation that cared and that would defend the perhaps naive notion that a huge group of people could change society for the better.

They were hopelessly idealistic but they also weren’t afraid to establish a dialogue between people in power and the angry kids on the street. At the moment, we’re neither huge, nor idealistic, nor getting engaged in a serious dialogue.

I’m not saying stop protesting. Some of the most exciting events in history originated from protesting. Where would the Arab Spring be without uprisings? Imagine what further war crimes were prevented by students who kicked off the anti-Vietnam war movement at Kent State University?

I’m saying, if you’re serious, go a step further; a big, angry, decisive step. Get out of your cosy ‘everything is s**t’ bubble.

That may mean acknowledging that some things are simply too messed up to be changed within just one legislative period. Start making a difference, get to know the facts behind your shouts and that can also mean holding a second protest, a third, to start writing a column for whoever thinks you have a clue, and fighting to be given a platform until you succeed.

That is not going to be easy; society and politics are hard to break through and patterns are often too ingrained to be given up without some sort of political snobbery. But we live in Britain, so what do you expect?

None of that is new by any means. It is part of why democracy has always been the best of the bad bunch. If you’re serious about making change happen that shouldn’t hold you back; it didn’t hold any of the big revolutionaries back and I’m not talking about Brand here.

Sign up for Foodbank if you want to fight the prevalent injustices in this society. Get involved in a think-tank group and present new political ideas that are realistic and not the product of drunken, idealistic rants at 3am. Get involved in SUARTS, I’ve heard they’re hosting really fun sleepovers.

I dare say that the value of protesting is next to nothing if your whole strategy is to hold banners and do a fair bit of shouting because you can somehow identify with the reason for the protest, and then keep on living life as normal.

If you don’t have a clue about the complexities of political decision-making, but feel like people have a right to know that ‘it sucks’, then I can’t blame Mr Cameron for talking to his middle-aged white aides who have been presenting the same “raise the fees, privatise the loans, protect the ones who already have enough” innovations for years, instead of listening to the angry kids on Westminster Bridge.

Don’t be that angry kid. Be that angry, educated and ambitious kid that doesn’t accept the static slogans of the ‘ruling class’. Have a clear idea of what changes need to be made and how they can be implemented.

Otherwise I will kick you off our front page.

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