December 13, 2010

The Prince and the paupers

Letter to the Independent:
Last Thursday was a remarkable day. Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, was attacked in his car while travelling to a charity event with his wife.
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.
Under no circumstances can such an attack on innocent motorists be condoned. The Prince and his wife were clearly badly shaken by it, and so would we all be if we found ourselves in that position. However, 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. 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 repay 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 1970s 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 was looking forward to getting her £30 a week Educational Maintenance Award to continue in education for the next few years. It has summarily been removed – no discussion, no explanation. Though £30 per week was vitally needed and appreciated by poor students and their families, to David Cameron and his like it represents no more than the cost of a couple of sandwiches.
Stuart Fretwell
Portland, Dorset
Very clever. Obviously university educated.


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