The Privelege Gap
The photo of Prince Charles and Camilla looking horrified as students attack their car during protests last week flashed around the world.
It's an interesting one and open to a variety of interpretations. The first, official one is that the royals should have been better protected and that they were under threat from "anarchists".
However, the image also lends itself to an alternative interpretation where Charles and Camilla represent a privileged elite cushioned from the realities of the ongoing global recession.
Not only are they privileged through class and wealth, but they also represent the older generation for the protest about rising university tuition fees and cuts to grants for students to stay on at college. It is symptomatic of wider anger among young people that they are being landed with picking up the tab for previous generations' relatively comfortable lives and short-term thinking.
It is not just that they will they have to pay more to continue in higher education , but there are very few jobs around for them, they will have no pension to speak of and they will be unlikely to be able to afford their own homes for decades. If that weren't bad enough the talks at Cancun highlight the long-term picture for them and it's not good.
Part of the UK students' anger is that they were galvanized to vote for a party, the Liberal Democrats, because they wanted to get rid of tuition fees. That party, now in government, has done a u-turn and not only not abolished fees, but raised them to £9K a year, although they only have to be paid once a student begins to earn over £21K. Students, often described heretofore as apathetic, feel their vote has been wasted. They feel betrayed. It will be interesting to see how that disillusion manifests itself in political terms in the long term. Will it bring further disengagement or more activism to change the system?Continued on the next page