The origins of this idea came about not so much because I saw something that inspired me – rather, I felt it almost like a moral duty. Last year on the 10th November, a huge student march took place in London to protest against the rising tuition fees, and the scrapping of the EMA system. A few left-wing extremists managed to influence the many students who were down there originally for peaceful purposes, and lay waste to 30 Millbank – home of the Conservative Party HQ.
I was down there myself, filming a piece by which I would use to experiment and explore the genre of documentary. Little did I realize what I was actually filming. This was the start of something big – this was the start of a demonstration of the power of the internet. Being students, we had used it first – we’d got organized, and we’d rallied in numbers in excess of 50,000. We showed the country that striking collectively and in solidarity was possible through online platforms, by way of online media and the social network.
Nowadays, that one strike has set in motion a gathering of people, from those who are old and being affected by pension cuts, to those who are ill, and being affected by NHS privatization.
The recession has hit the country hard – Prime Minister David Cameron has tried to get us out of the recession by way of extreme cutbacks across all fronts. However, it has become increasingly apparent that there is corruption in the highest ranks of parliament, and what has been described as ‘back door privatization’ has been seen as the last straw for many.
Privatization, in the simplest form, is when a company goes from public ownership to private ownership. Businesses are then no longer sanctioned by the government – usually they are guided by public sector law, but privatization effectively allows them to charge for services that were previously free, or charge more for services that were originally cheaper. It is what the Conservative government stands for the most – Thatcher used this method in the 1980s, and created some of the most infamous riots to ever occur in this country’s history. The shutting down of the mines and the increase of job losses united an entire country against her own parliament with devastating results. However, these days the left-wing parties are drawing comparisons not the 1980s riots, but more to the 1930s recession (namely, ‘The Great Depression’).
These current riots will also be the first time the internet has come into play with social revolution. This is a very interesting and unpredictable time for the media – the internet cannot be regulated. However, it can be monitored. It seems that the more people the government strike out towards to make examples of, the angrier the country gets. Every move they make is spread across the internet like wild fire – every action deemed as inappropriate or unjustified is added to fuel a fire that is aimed squarely at the heart of England itself.
I went down to London last year to simply find out student’s voices and ideas. What I got was a clear message – students were upset, and although a peaceful and violent protest both occurred, only the violent one managed to make the protest headline news. I made my little movie and reflected upon how to construct a documentary, but whilst I busied myself with university modules, the violence in London started to escalate.
On the 26th March 2011, the second infamous riot happened, this time targeting (among other places) the Fortnum and Mason department store. This time, it was a campaign of 500,000 people alongside the students. The violence continued long into the night – evidently, the protestors were getting more organized. Then in August, riots occurred again – all over the country this time. The number of people uniting against the government cut backs seemed to be growing – anarchists, hoodies, chavs. Perhaps the few trouble makers that government had told us all about had been the driving force behind all of this …but surely not.
This was when I started to wonder who was actually behind it all. There must have been a driving force behind these actions. People were too synonymous for these protests to be organized by a group of left-wing thugs who just wanted to trash places. I wanted to know what was really going on – what were the official stories not telling us? Was there some sort of leader to these campaigns – if so, who was it?
My investigation took me around the internet in search of answers, and it wasn’t long before this logo started to show up frequently:
This is the logo of a party called ‘UK Uncut’. They admit to being the driving force behind the protests that effectively turned the peaceful student march into an anarchical situation. They were the instigators of the Fortnum and Mason sit-in protest, and also have many other riots scheduled in plain sight. The leader – a collective or individual simply called ‘Anonymous’ – seems to be the one rallying the troops. And by ‘troops’, I mean every party in the country.
Anyone who is politically active is part of a society. In recent times I have realized that these parties are all uniting under one banner. This is why the number of people going to London is increasing. I decided that for my Final Major Project, there would be nothing more potent or important than to tracks down representatives of these parties – or even UK Uncut itself – to give them a voice, just like I did with the students a year ago. I can consider myself familiar enough with a riot situation, and I know how to conduct interviews in those sorts of environments.
I want these people who are rioting to represented for who they truly are – if they are indeed extreme-left wing anarchists, then that is what I will ultimately end up filming. But something tells me they’re not. Something tells me that there is a unity occurring in this country that has probably never been seen before since the start of history. This is an era of the internet, which has the power to bring people together and unite us, whatever we may be fighting for. As the Arabic proverb goes, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. How extreme are these people who are uniting against the government. Are they really driven to create a better future for the country as a whole, or are they simply lashing out at a power elite they believe to be unjust? Within this documentary is probably one of the most relevant stories any of my generation of film makers will ever see in this country during their lifetime.
What is the truth behind these photos? Are the police really instruments to enforce the power of a dominant and corrupt bourgeois that is assaulting and cheating the working classes of our society? Or, are the stories of thugs and vandals destroying London aimlessly in pursuit of a misguided ideal true? Time will surely tell.