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The student occupation at University College London - to which I delivered my daughter's sleeping bag last night - didn't look like fun.  That's because, unlike the occupation I was part of in 1968, it wasn't fun.  It was serious, and undertaken from a sense of duty.

 

A big room - the Jeremy Bentham room - with a dozen or so big round tables, each of them with ten serious-looking students round it, each table engaged in a clearly serious seminar.  "Death by committee" one occupier told me as he left, but he added that he was coming back.  Outside, a lone security guard fiddled with his mobile phone.

They'd carefully chosen a room with toilet facilities and an adjacent kitchen, and it didn't look like a room the university was going to miss much for a few days. 

At 5.50 one of the leaders took a microphone and asked politely if anyone minded having the six o'clock news on the big screen, just in case they were on it.

I left for the teeming streets outside, where excitement and danger lurk.

But I left with nothing but admiration.  Unlike my freinds in 1968, they were there with a real purpose, and were causing just enough disruption to get some much-needed publicity. Unlike my friends, they weren't having a lot of fun. 

And, most important of all, unlike my friends, they weren't after anything that would do them any good.  Their concern was for the next cohort, and the next - the students who will have to amass an even bigger load of debt for their degrees than my daughter and her friends have had to amass; and who have now been deserted by all three mainstream political parties - shamefully betrayed by New Labour, and now by the Liberal Democrats.

I'm glad I delivered one of them a sleeping bag. I wish I could do more.