Whatever the potentially innocent reason for choosing such a banner, it is clear how some students and others intent on trouble would have interpreted it. And that is what they did at Millbank – demolition.
When 2,000 students broke away from the main protest and headed towards Tory Party HQ at 1.30pm, there were no more than half-a-dozen police officers to defend the premises.
Demolition: When 2,000 students broke away from the main protest and headed towards Tory Party HQ, there were no more than half-a-dozen police officers to defend the premises
Despite 24,000 students pre-registering with the NUS to go on the march, the night before the protest, police were still denying the demonstration was going to be significant and lined up just 225 officers against an estimated 50,000 students.
So what went wrong and what should have happened? After the Notting Hill Carnival riots in 1976, the Metropolitan Police invested heavily in public order policing, especially in training and equipment. It also trained senior officers to form an elite cadre of public order officers, of which I was proud to be one.