What's Left for the Left?
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In 2010, the coalition’s decision to raise student fees to an unprecedented £9,000 sparked nationwide protest. Students from all backgrounds descended on the capital to voice their opposition to this move, denouncing the coalition as a bunch of Janus-faced traitors. Yet the rewards for this display of solidarity were few and miniscule. The groundswell amounted to little more than a light tremor. Despite solid numbers and mass media attention, the Government remained resolute in their decision. In fact, the only real achievement of the Millbank protest, as it will no doubt come to be known, was bad press. It was as if there were no dissenting voice in our country that anyone in power was prepared to listen to. But why are protests today so notoriously ineffective? An independent survey revealed that over half of students believe campus protests are poorly organized. Impact’s Daisy Mash, however, resists blaming poor attendance on logistics and suggests that students, by and large, are an apathetic bunch. That’s a generous description. A demonstration held at Nottingham University in November 2011 attracted approximately 60 protesters out of a student body approaching 32,000. All of which begs the question, are protests an effective platform to address social and political concerns?
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