In May 1972 school students all over Britain went on strike over their conditions and future prospects. Although largely forgotten now, the Schools Action Union was front-page news, and as one of the six members of the committee that ran the SAU, seeing school students join university protesters in the past few weeks has been nostalgic.
Of course, age and experience brings wisdom. After nearly 40 years I would like to say this to the youngsters expressing their frustrations on the streets today: You probably think, as I did so long ago, that adults have ruined the world, accepted compromise and allowed a situation to develop that you are going to suffer from. You probably think that you are ignored, taken for granted, and expected to conform to a system that has ruined the ecology and which you will be expected to clean up. You may think that you have inherited a financial world system that you had no say about but which will direct your entire lives. You probably think that you are justified in breaking windows and shaking police vans – that’s what I used to think in 1972. You are absolutely right. I apologise on behalf of my generation of activists for not doing enough, not trying harder, for letting everything (except rock music) get progressively worse, and leaving you to run the revolution for us. Just try not to get nicked – it takes you out of action for too long.
SAU executive committee member 1971-72
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