Friday, 10 December 2010

The Prince & The Paupers

Yesterday (9th Dec 2010) was a remarkable day. Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, was attacked in his car whilst travelling to a charity event with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.

This was in a busy Regent Street, which was filled with Christmas shoppers at the time. The attackers were not terrorists but youngsters from a group of 100 or so protesters who had been prevented ( by the police) from joining the demonstration against increased tuition fees which was taking-place in Parliament Square. Police had sealed-off the square, for some hours, and no one was permitted to enter or to leave.

Under no circumstances can such an attack on innocent motorists be condoned, whoever the occupants of the car might be. The Prince & his wife were clearly badly shaken by it, and so would we all be if we found ourselves in that position.

However, with that strange fortuitousness that sometimes occurs, this unplanned meeting between a Prince and some relative 'paupers' perfectly illustrates why people are so angry about the attitude of this Conservative ( in all but name) Government.

Here is a man, born into great wealth and privilege, who received his own university education free-of-charge, as did his siblings and his two sons, William & Harry. On a day when youngsters who have none of his advantages were taking to the streets in protest at the restriction of the access to University education to only the rich and privileged ( or to the poor, with the accompanying monstrous debt to re-pay over 30 years) - here was the epitome of privilege and power (personified in Prince Charles) making a stately progress to the theatre in an absurdly grand 1970's Rolls-Royce !

A political cartoonist could not have done better if they had been asked to come up with a single image to illustrate the yawning chasm of understanding and life-experiences between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' in this once great country.

My own daughter has just had a potential four and a half thousand pounds stolen from her - at a stroke - by this odious coalition of the 'privileged' which makes up our current government. She was looking forward to getting her 30 pounds a week Educational Maintenance Award to continue in education for the next few years. It has summarily been removed - no discussion, no explanation.

The 'gulf' of understanding arises from the fact that although 30 pounds per week was vitally needed and appreciated by poor students and their families, to David Cameron and his ilk it represents no more than the cost of a couple of sandwiches from Selfridges or a glass of Bollinger at the Club.

It is not, perhaps, that these policy makers are wilfully 'evil' ( although that could be the case) but, rather, that they have no understanding nor interest in how ordinary people live. They have always been enclosed in a bubble of privilege and , I suspect, they always will be.

David Cameron is, I believe , a self-confessed fan of ex-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, so we must prepare ourselves for ' Nightmare On Downing Street : Part Two ! '

I, for one, have never been a fan of sequels - they often have all of the faults of the first incarnation and none of the freshness. Regrettably, we face 5 years of living with a Government of re-warmed left-overs and I, for one, am already feeling a little sick :(

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