Wednesday’s national NUS/UCU 50,000 strong national demonstration was a magnificent show of strength against the Con Dems’ savage attacks on education. The Tories want to make swingeing cuts, introduce £9,000 tuition fees and cut EMA. These attacks will close the doors to higher education and further education for a generation of young people.
During the demonstration over 5,000 students showed their determination to defend the future of education by occupying the Tory party HQ and its courtyards for several hours. The mood was good-spirited, with chants, singing and flares.
Yet at least 32 people have now been arrested, and the police and media appear to be launching a witch-hunt condemning peaceful protesters as “criminals” and violent.
A great deal is being made of a few windows smashed during the protest, but the real vandals are those waging a war on our education system.
We reject any attempt to characterise the Millbank protest as small, “extremist” or unrepresentative of our movement.
We celebrate the fact that thousands of students were willing to send a message to the Tories that we will fight to win. Occupations are a long established tradition in the student movement that should be defended. It is this kind of action in France and Greece that has been an inspiration to many workers and students in Britain faced with such a huge assault on jobs, benefits, housing and the public sector.
We stand with the protesters, and anyone who is victimised as a result of the protest.
Initial signatories include (all in a personal capacity):
Mark Bergfeld, NUS NEC
Ashok Kumar, Vice-President Education LSE
Vicki Baars, NUS LGBT Officer women’s place
Sean Rillo Raczka, Birkbeck SU Chair and NUS NEC (Mature Students’ Rep)
Nathan Bolton, Campaigns Officer Essex SU
James Haywood, Campaigns Officer Goldsmiths College SU
Steve Hedley, London regional organiser RMT
Wanda Canton, Women’s Officer QMUL
Michael Chessum, Education and Campaigns Officer UCL SU
Jade Baker, Education Officer Westminster Uni SU
Dan Swain, Essex Uni SU Postgrad Officer
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