(There's a lot of nonsense talked about the police but whenever demonstrations were being planned, whether in London or back in Canterbury, we found the police were actually quite sympathetic to the cause. This helped planning no end and undoubtedly increased the impact of the demonstration.)
This week's demonstration by the National Union of Students started well but got sidetracked by the atrocious scenes at Millbank. Anyone who thinks that violence is going to advance their cause one iota is seriously deluded.
There's a good post, Labour Uncut: The old cancer at the heart of the student riot, by Luke Akehurst about the problems the demonstrations have had in the past and the mentality of the far left extremists who have hijacked them. My favourite passage is this one:
They have to recruit. It's so unpleasant being a Trot – even more endless meetings than being a Labour activist, and you have to sell newspapers, and you have to split off and start a new party every time you disagree with the edicts of the central committee – that they need hundreds of new naive recruits each year to replace the ones they burn out and discard like political fag ends. What better place to find such recruits than on a demo attended by loads of young people who are passionate about politics? They can sidle up to them and tell them the big picture, the heavy stuff about the inevitable overthrow of capitalism – an enticing dream if you are an idealistic kid. Just sell these papers and nirvana is just around the corner They charmingly refer to the new recruits as "fodder" as in cannon fodder. One or two might be unlucky enough not to drop out and to get sucked into life as an otherwise unemployable full-time revolutionary "cadre".
Groups like the Revolutionary People's Popular Purified Revisionist Orthodox Socialist Communist Marxist Leninist Stalinist Trotskyist Maoist Are-You-Still-Following-Usist Workers' Front of Purley (sorry but Tooting has changed too much in the last three decades for that to still work) and other such fractions have achieved very little other than generating some business for glaziers. But they have also wrought fear and destruction, with many innocent people caught in the midst of this (Millbank contains many businesses and organisations, not just the Conservative Central Office).
Condemnation of these actions is insufficient for the NUS - the leadership must do everything it can to root up such militants, including expelling any and all officers who took part in the violence.