It couldn’t have happened to a nicer Minister for Higher Education. David Willetts was shouted down at a lecture at Cambridge University by protesters. Some writers on the left have opposed their actions:

we were subjected to a tedious monologue by a bunch of self-satisfied protesters unwilling to listen to any point of view other than their own. A supporter of the protest, Lawrence Dunn, said afterwards that beause the government had ignored previous protests “it was therefore time to ignore what Willetts had to say”. He is of course at liberty to ignore Willetts. But the people who were ignored last night were the majority of the audience who had come to listen to — and challenge — the minister. Their views and wishes were swept aside by the actions of an immature and intolerant minority. No doubt they genuinely care about education. But they appear to have no understanding of or interest in the process of democratic debate.

I would argue, as some other commentators below that article have, that he and his Tory ilk have been shown beyond any doubt to be utterly disinterested in the process of democratic debate. The time to be polite and ‘tolerant’ of them is completely over, and I couldn’t salute the student protesters more. As the Guardian reports:

Student James Jackson said activists from Cambridge Defend Education read out a prepared statement which was repeated sentence by sentence by other demonstrators in the audience – a technique used by Occupy activists.

Making reference to recent student protests in which the Metropolitan police said baton rounds could be used to prevent disorder, the statement said: “You can threaten to shoot us with rubber bullets; you can arrest us; you can imprison us; you can criminalise our dissent; you can blight a hundred thousand lives … but you cannot break us because we are more resolute, more numerous, and more determined than you … Go home, David.”


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