Today, the morning after the crazy day before, I imagine that NUS President Aaron Porter must be wondering whether he's about to follow one of his predecessors (Phil Woolas) into political career oblivion. He was, naturally, very quick yesterday to run down to the Millbank TV studios and condemn the so-called "tiny minority" (numbering many hundreds) that were taking The Damned's "Smash It Up" just a tad too literally, however, in the cold light of a new day, is it enough?
If you organise a protest, if you put the permission forms in and you sign them yourself, then you are responsible for what happens on the day and the organising you do. As yet, part from saying that the people that kicked off were despicable, we're yet to see any sign from the NUS that they'll even acknowledge they themselves have a role to play in casting the blame around.
Yes, undoubtedly the Police were unprepared, but the question that needs to be asked is why? Why is it, that the Metropolitan Police, a force that is used to dealing with anarchist and trotskyite nutjobs, so hopelessly prepared for a possible trouble at a protest with at the very least 25,000 people present?
Was it sheer incompetence on their part? Or were they misled about the scale of the protest by Porter and the NUS? If they were misled was it deliberate or simply incompetence on the part of Porter and his organisation (I prefer the latter option)? Can the NUS really claim ignorance of what appear to be violent extremist factions within their organisation?
We now know also that, the Tory Party Chairman, and Minister without Portfolio, Baroness Warsi, was in CCHQ during the time of the rioting.
That's a member of the Cabinet who, if I recall correctly, would be afforded some sort of Special Branch protection. Were Special Branch even aware of the potential threat before it occurred? If not, was it because the Met just forgot to tell them a march of students was walking past the front of the office, or was it because the Police were not properly informed by Porter and the NUS?
Perhaps I'm not being fair here, but I'm finding it difficult to believe that a force as experienced in crowd control problems in London as the Met would be so unprepared. After all, we normally hear that they're too heavy-handed, not that there's not enough of them. This begs the question of whether the were so unprepared because Porter and the NUS failed to engage with them properly in the first place?
If that is the case, then Porter might have to fall on his sword before the day out.
Update: More from Tory Bear who asks another question. "Can Aaron Porter be sure that no NUS hacks were involved in the destruction of Millbank Tower and 30 Millbank?" If anything appears that implicates NUS people in the violence then Porter is screwed.
Image listed from Guido