Collective bargaining by riot
So, the students kicked off. Cue condemnation and jubiliation (Actually, Bone's blog has some detailed accounts from inside the riot).
Now, I've been to a few riots, and know that the police always win, even if they didn't control this one as effectively as they usually manage. There's no way that the rioters can force change, except, the cost of policing must be taken into account - as we know, the police are facing cuts as well, but making the state find non-discretionary spend to protect itself could throw a spanner in it's spending plans.
To do that would require sustained and repeated demonstrations, not one offs (the mistake anarchists and the like with their annual May Day riot made). More riots/demos by a wider movement would force some sort of discussion, but, as we've seen in Greece, if the political offices hold firm, it isn't guaranteed to work.
It remains, though, plebeian, rather than proletarian as a style of politics - plea bargaining with power, rather than seeking to recreate the conditions and world according to our own liking.
More important than rucking with cops is organising for political action - the students are threatening to unseat Lib-Dems (a good enough move in itself), but an electoral movement to use political power to control our own labour is needed.
Luke Akehurst makes some good points, though, from what I've read elsewhere, his 'few bad apples' thesis may not hold, as there may have been some genuine student involvement (but I'm sure the old lags and usual suspects may have had a hand). Obviously, where I disagree is with the use he would put political power to, but then, that's why I don't support his party...