Rant: Who is showing a contempt for democracy?
On Friday, for the opening of the Liberal Democrat conference, student acitivists from the University of Birmingham did a banner drop from the bridge connecting the Hyatt Hotel to the ICC conference centre.
For this heinous crime they were arrested, and held in police cells over the weekend having been charged with road traffic offenses, with the police alleging that the banner drop caused debris to fall on the road – I witnessed the whole action, and did not see anything fall from the bridge. The police said at the bail hearing that no damage was done and no-one was hurt.
At the bail hearing on Monday, Ed Bauer, a sabbatical officer elected to office at the University of Birmingham on the basis that he would campaign for students, was held on remand, and will be imprisoned without trial for at least 10 days. I’ve already posted some thoughts about that disgraceful decision.
Today, the guild’s student paper, Redbrick, reported on the story, which included this quote from Will Mieville-Hawkins (sorry, I can’t work out how to do the accented e):
“The University of Birmingham Liberal Democrats respect the right to free assembly, speech and protest. However Mr. Bauer’s actions this weekend show his contempt for democracy and free association and bring the Guild into disrepute.”
This from the mouth of a man representing a party who before the last election pledged to “vote against a rise in tuition fees and push for a fairer alternative”, and then mostly voted for tuition fees. Surely this is the real contempt for democracy – asking people to vote for you on the basis of a set of promises pertaining as to how you will behave if you are in power, or what you will seek to do if you are not. (Just to re-iterate, Ed’s promises in his election were about campaigning for students, so this action does actually show he is doing as he promised – exactly what democracy is about)
The tuition fee rise was not contained in the coalition agreement, so any claims about things being different because you are in a coaltion should be laughed at.
In any case, lots of students voted for the Liberal Democrats on the basis of that pledge, and to have such a clear promise broken is the absolute height of contempt for democracy.
More broadly it is clear from the huge drop in support for the Liberal Democrats in polls – which are now running at between 8% and 10% – and at the by-elections held since the general election, which have seen Liberal Democrats get less votes than UKIP and independent canidates, and in some cases lose their deposits – that the Liberal Democrats have entered into a government which is not doing what people voted for.
A democracy is about people having governance over themselves. We have a representative democracy, which means we vote for people to rule over us, on the basis of promises as to what they will do. Many people voted for the Liberal Democrats believing them to be a left-liberal party, even thinking they were to the left of Labour. What they have got is a centre-right party, aiding and abbetting the Tories in their austerity and neo-liberal agendas.
Contempt for democracy? look in the fucking mirror Will.