Since our last attempt
and the continued occupation of a university building
was not enough to sway the government away from its wicked ways, a new protest was organised (aided by rumours that Nick Clegg would be here). And in view of Edinburgh's latest meteorological surprise
it had to be billed as a snowball fight.
As usual, I showed up half an hour early. This is a very silly thing to do when the ground is covered in sleet and snow and your combat boots are no longer as water tight as they once were. Still, I was not alone.
There were at least 7 other early birds with one or two more or less family friendly banners. I did not realise the point of the star in the middle of "cuts" until I got home and started looking through the pictures. Soon after, the police showed up as well.
I found this hilarious at the time. As I said, there were about 7 protesters in Bristo Square at this time. Maybe 10. At the appointed time, however, numbers swelled quite suddenly, and in the end there were a lot of people there. Depite the snow falling.
We marched from Bristo square, up George IV Bridge, down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. It was a daring endeavour, as the road was slippery with sleet on cobble stones; and if the ones at the back had slipped at any time, I am fairly sure the rest would have fallen, too. There were drums (which really help increase the atmosphere of a march -- I see why the military find them useful) and chants.
Education for the masses,
not just the ruling classes!
They say cut back,
we say fight back!
as well as the ever popular
Nick Clegg We know you.
You're a fucking Tory too!
When we finally arrived at the Holyrood, the police were everywhere. They had marched alongside us on the way (possibly in secret agreement with the protests?), but once we arrived they did not seem to know what to do with themselves. Unless clustering in groups of three is a tactic I am not aware of.
They certainly seemed very unthreatening. I wonder whether this is why the protests here have been so different from the ones in London. Before the protest kicked off, someone handed me a flier with instructions about what my rights and obligations would be were I to be arrested. I had no intentions of ever needing this information, but it did strike me that no matter how many protests I go to, I always seem to manage to avoid the violent ones. I discussed this with another girl during the protest. She mentioned a tactic called "kettling
", which sounds distinctly unpleasant, and I can easily see how it might provoke violent confrontation. In contrast, the shy shuffling of feet and occasional bemused smile from the Scottish police seems to have helped keep things sensible.
And by sensible I mean within reason. This is a student protest, after all. There were some good speeches. I may be biased, but I thought the best came from Suzanne Trill, who works in my department. I am easily swayed by allusions to Shakespeare. There were also some less brilliant speeches, one by a woman I think was a member of the Scottish Parliament, who said the way to express frustration was through voting. Which is silly, seeing as the whole point is that voting for the apparently sensible people got everyone into this mess. And there was the obligatory call for a general strike from someone. The main, and this is where not-so-sensible part comes in, attraction seems to have been the promised snowball fight. This was not so much a fight between people throwing snowballs at each other (protesters as a group with a single focus might make that problematic?), but a fight between protesters on the one side, and the Scottish Parliament Building on the other. Fotographic evidence can be seen here
The Scottish Parliament lost.
Despite what this picture may suggest, I don't think anyone actually threw snowballs at the police. I think they were only there to keep people from following through on the calls for "occupation".
Once again, I fear I am getting old: it seemed silly to me to want to occupy Parliament. First of all, it is Westminster, not the Scottish Parliament doing all the dodgy deals. Secondly, an occupation of the building (if one did not chain oneself to something immoveable) would last five minutes or less. And while the newspapers would probably make the most of them, I find pandering to the media in that way a little tasteless. Don't ask me why I like the fact that the undergraduates are still occupying Appleton Tower. I think it has something to do with a theory-nostalgia which involves Barthes, 1968 and Paris. It draws on a history. Occupying the Scottish Parliament would be along the lines of sitting down in every intersection in Edinburgh. And I have discussed that elsewhere.
Now for the random
(although only for the uninformed observer). Having exhausted their thirst for violence by peppering the building with snow, the demonstration moved on to Dynamic Earth
. There was some positioning, some scuffling, a little snowball-throwing and general chanting. The police looked thoroughly bewildered. I was standing a little away from the crowds at this point, and I heard a policeman behind me say to the one next to him, "What are they doing? It's empty. There isn't anyone in there."
He had clearly not been following the protest-blogs
, which had suggested that Nick Clegg would, for some reason known only to himself, launch the Scottish Bill at Dynamic Earth. I am a little intrigued as to where this idea came from. Is this something Nick Clegg would do? By the time I left, there was no indication that he would show, and I could see the protesters leave soon after. Still, it gave me the opportunity of taking a picture of them with the architectural ... uniqueness of the Parliament building behind them.Their website
suggests that the meeting was moved to New College, and I seem to have missed a nice second protest by going home to dry my feet.
I wish them luck.