Yesterday I took part in my first ever tweet storm.
Together with several of my followers and followees, I tracked and quoted my way across the landscape of the fees debate, the vote and the demonstrations.
For hours we pulled together quotes, opinions and live updates from MPs, demonstrators, observers and journalists into multiple feeds which attempted to assemble together the ground up and top down views of the event.
From views we agreed with to views we found despicable, the tweets flowed in.
The topics of discussion ranged from clashes with advocates of violence against the protestors, to concern for those trapped and held in the kettles, to choice sound bites from politicians. Gradually, events unfolded in a glut of information, opinion and action.
When it came time for the vote, my twitter world held its collective breath, though few held out much hope that the vote would come out in favour of the students.
They weren’t wrong.
Support for the proposal was slashed, but the vote passed the motion with a majority of 21, with 25 abstentions.
The clashes between police and protestors had been escalating all day. Alarming was spreading as the tactics used by the police become more and more questionable. Protestors, peaceful and violent alike were being held in kettles by the police, panic spreading through the crowds and injury reports flowing in. Fires were being lit and property was being damaged. Mounted police were charging the crowds, sending people fleeing for their safety, in scenes that sent shockwaves of horror resonating through observers.
After the results were announced, things seemed to be get worse. Protestors were held in kettles for extended periods of time and then funnelled through identification check points. Violent minorities began to really lay into private property and the tweets about police preventing medical treatment began to catch our attention.
Then Charles and Camilla arrived - wrong place, wrong time. A tiny number of violent demonstrators saw a target and took aim.
I woke up this morning fully expecting the press to be awash with clashes between protestors and police, reports about damage to property and condemnation of violent action, but I genuinely believed the focus would have been on the vote. Go on, call me naïve again.
However, I was shocked by the general decision by the press to lead with Charles and Camilla.
No headlines highlighting the broken promises of the Liberal Democrats and their failure to represent the liberals and the youth vote that had put them in power.
Neither was there any headlines highlighting the disproportionate use of force by the police. The disabled protestor pulled from his wheelchair, the bloodied heads, the charging horses, the kettling.
The head of the Met claimed that these measures were in response to protestors not sticking to the agreed route, but who had agreed this route? The NUS? This wasn’t an NUS protest, this was a diverse group of people, teachers, parents, students, objectors that had come together to show their condemnation of the coalition governments proposal.
In my opinion the media has missed the key message of these events. It has played down the actions of those that are supposed to protect the public but have protected the government, choosing instead to focus their coverage on the actions of the violent few who could no longer contain their anger and disappointment.
I am not going to apologise for this minorities actions.
I do not and will never condone violent action.
However, please, for the love of everything this country is supposed to hold dear, tell the story of the protestors.
Tell us the stories from the people inside the kettles, held against their will, without charge, for hours in the freezing cold.
Tell us about how peaceful demonstrators were denied medical treatment and funnelled through identification check points.
Tell us where the student representatives were. What was there part in these protests? Where was Aaron Porter?
Tell us about the abstainers who could have swung the vote.
Tell us about the broken promises of the people that we trusted and voted into power.
Tell us about the commendable actions of the many, instead of focusing on the deplorable actions of the few.
Don’t tell us about the brief involvement of icons of a generation that is no longer relevant.
Above all, tell us about how the Liberal Democrats have sold out to gain power and sentenced the next generation to crippling debt and an education system that will be even more class based and inaccessible to those from low income backgrounds than it already is.
Tell us about how this is going to condemn our children.
The children of the conned liberals.