The scenes on London last night were a parody of a carnival. The Lords of Misrule who hijacked the student protest and turned it into a riot have totally destroyed the student cause. Attacking the Cenotaph- a particularly low thing to do- setting Parliament Square, and the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, ablaze, and then attacking the heir to the Throne and his wife in their car.
We all know that there are a few hundred anarchists and leftists in the UK who would turn the country into a Pol Pot style murder state if they could, and sure enough these nutters were out in force on the streets of London last night.
However the collateral damage to the student cause is probably terminal. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the tuition fees issue, the students had their cause hijacked by thugs. The poor taste of attacking the statue of Churchill and desecrating the Cenotaph alienates the overwhelming majority in the UK who regard these symbols not as some "Imperialist Relic" but as a living reminder of the price of freedom. The violence on the streets was criminal and those who committed these crimes will now have to face the music.
Yet there is further collateral damage.
If the Liberal Democrats were divided on the issue of student fees, the Labour Party is divided on the issue of the riots themselves. After his message of approval for the last riot, Ed Miliband is now in a very difficult position. Essentially he has failed to condemn the violence of the first demo. Indeed several Labour MPs have now not only failed to condemn the second- more serious- riot, they have sent messages of support.
The trouble is that Miliband is tempted to try to squeeze more political juice from this particular lemon. He thinks reminding the Liberal Democrats and the British people about Lib Dem division on the fees issue plays to his advantage. Yet he can not play politics on this: Labour must condemn outright and completely the violence of last night. Any failure to do so lines them up with the criminals responsible for last nights outrages.
We will soon see if he falls into the trap. If he does, he will condemn his leadership to a lingering death.