Press release: The students are back, more determined than ever
February 1, 2011 Leave a comment
David Cameron may have hoped to see the student movement against fees, cuts and the scrapping of EMA fizzle out, but he was proved wrong by a spectacular day of protests on Saturday.
Several thousand people demonstrated in Manchester, and in London up to 10,000 marched on Parliament. They included thousands from London but also lively delegations from Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Canterbury, Colchester, Norwich, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Portsmouth and York.
The demonstration was densely packed with trade union banners and received messages of support from senior figures in unions including UCU, PCS, Unison, NUT, GMB, CWU. University and college workers were out in force, and the parents of school student protests marched in T-shirts saying “stop kettling our kids”.
Sara Tomlinson from the newly formed Stop Kettling our Kids campaign said:
We marched today in London alongside students and trade unionists. We were delighted that the march passed off peacefully and there were no attempts to kettle the crowd. The outcry against the harsh treatment of our young people has succeeded in persuading the police to change their tactics. The result was a march united against a common enemy: the government and their unfair cuts. It was also a march with minimal policing and no incidents or injuries. Kettling young people for up to nine hours without toilets, food and water causes trouble and does not prevent it.
The tone for the demonstration was set by the students who had led walkouts and occupations last term. Many took inspiration from events in Egypt and Tunisia. Demonstrators continued marching past the Tory HQ on Millbank to join a mass picket of the Egyptian embassy in solidarity with the movement against the dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Now the stage is set for a new wave of action, targeting university Vice Chancellors who increase tuition fees and demanding that Parliament overturns its decisions on fees and EMA. Activists from last term’s occupations have called for a National Assembly of Education today, which is expected to announce a new national “Day X” of walkouts and protests and to support the ballots for industrial action in the UCU.
Jim Wolfreys, President of King’s College London UCU, said:
Today showed that the determination of students and trade unionists to resist austerity remains very powerful. Clegg and Cameron are isolated and discredited but across the country there are council leaders, university Vice Chancellors and other managers who are preparing to implement cuts. Now we have to take the fight to them. UCU will be balloting over jobs, pensions and pay during the next few weeks. Today’s demonstration is a great start to this process and all of us who there feel buoyed up by it.
Mark Bergfeld of the NUS NEC said (in a personal capacity):
The student revolt has taken fresh inspiration from the revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt. Solidarity has been our watchword: parents and teachers came out to support the students, and together they marched in their thousands in solidarity with their sisters and brothers in Egypt. The fight to defend education is anything but over. Now students and workers need to unite behind a programme of walkouts, occupations and industrial action to stop the Tory vandals in their tracks.