Thursday News Review

Small minority steal the headlines

London mayor Boris Johnson said he was appalled that a small minority “shamefully abused” their right to protest and warned that those involved with “face the full force of the law”. He said: “The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has assured me that there will be a vigorous post-incident investigation. He will also be reviewing police planning and response.” National Union of Students president Aaron Porter described the violence as “despicable” and said a minority of protesters who planned to cause trouble had “hijacked” the march. The police inquiry is likely to focus on police preparation for the march, including the decision to categorise it as low risk and to draft in only around 225 officers to marshal more than 50,000 people. The tactics of public order commanders once violence erupted will also come under the spotlight after officers were ordered not to intervene as protesters attacked the building. – The Independent

The idiots who stormed Millbank Tower yesterday and threw a fire extinguisher from the roof have rightly been condemned for their violent actions. The agitators owe an apology to the primarily peaceful students who protested in London yesterday against education cuts. The media focus has inevitably turned to policing – ignoring the important issues at stake. A fair bit is known about the impact of rising tuition feesand the cuts to university teaching budgets. Much less is known about the £500 million cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). – Left Foot Forward

LibDem MPs signed a pledge not to increase tuition fees before May’s General Election. Before the violent scenes yesterday afternoon Nick Clegg, the LibDem Deputy Prime Minister, had faced accusations that he had betrayed students in the House of Commons as he stood in for David Cameron at PMQs. Last night, attention returned to the LibDems as the National Union of Students (NUS), who organised the march and condemned the “small minority” who cased the violence, said it planned to use the Government’s heavily trailed plans to “recall” errant MPs to force by-elections in Liberal seats. Liam Burns, the president of NUS Scotland, expressed concern that the march was undermined by the actions of a few. “I’m not going to defend the actions of a few hundred idiots,” he said. “Many of the Scottish students on the march travelled overnight, some for more than 17 hours. Nothing should detract from the strength of feeling across the country against the UK Government’s plans.” He added: “These proposals would have a huge impact north of the Border. Cuts will be passed on to the Scottish Parliament.” Ann McKechin, the Labour Shadow Scotland Secretary, said students had legitimate concerns. – The Herald

Over 50,000 people brought Westminster to a standstill with a peaceful march past Parliament to protest against the proposal to increase tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year. But the demonstration turned nasty when a crowd smashed its way into the Conservative Party’s headquarters in Millbank, cheered on by hundreds more outside. The ferocity of the protest ended the high hopes of a new era of consensus politics promised by David Cameron when he took office exactly six months ago. – Belfast Telegraph

Cameron says costs will go down for foreign students as costs go up for British students

During a visit to China, the Prime Minister said Government plans to lift the cap on fees for British students would mean foreigners could be charged less. British students currently pay significantly lower fees than overseas youngsters who want to take degrees here. However, the cap for British students could be lifted from around £3,000 to a maximum of £9,000 a year under planned reforms. Mr Cameron replied: “In the past, we have pushed up the fees on overseas students as a way of keeping them down for domestic students. “Yes, foreign students will still pay a significant amount of money, but we should be able to bring that growth under control. ”We won’t go on increasing so fast the fees of the overseas students.” Meanwhile, in the House of Commons, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, admitted that he and his party broke a promise to voters over student tuition fees. Standing in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Question Time, he conceded that he had “not been able to deliver the policy that we held in opposition” after abandoning a pledge to scrap university fees altogether. – The Telegraph

Ken lobbies for Lutfar

KEN Livingstone announced today he is urging Ed Miliband to allow new Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman back into the Labour party. The Labour London mayoral candidate said the decision could be based on how well Mr Rahman fares in the coming weeks and months running the borough as its first directly elected mayor. He told reporters: “I’ve talked to Ed Miliband and the general secretary of the Labour party about this. “I’ve been discussing this with virtually everyone in the party. The general consensus is that there is a lot to be said for letting this all calm down and seeing how Lutfur performs.” – East London Advertiser

Mr Livingstone today said: “I’ve talked to Ed Miliband and the general secretary of the Labour party about this. I’ve been discussing this with virtually everyone in the party. The general consensus is that there is a lot to be said for letting this all calm down and seeing how Lutfur performs.” Asked whether Mr Rahman could be reinstated, he said: “If he performs as well as I think he will perform, then we will see.” Mr Rahman was deselected after Mr Abbas submitted a dossier to the National Executive Committee, attacking his rival’s record as council leader and claiming he had been “brainwashed by extremists”. Mr Abbas, backed by Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali, was installed in his place. Recent reports have suggested that Mr Livingstone could make a bid to have Mr Rahman reinstated as early as November 30 at an NEC meeting, but he played these down, saying: “You can’t put a timescale on it.” A source close to Mr Rahman today said he was “delighted” that Mr Livingstone was “on his side”. – The Evening Standard

At national level, Ken Livingstone, not a man to pass up an opportunity to enrage his bitter enemies in Tower Hamlets Labour, has been using his newly-acquired position on Labour’s National Executive Committee to press for Rahman’s re-admittance to the party. Labour Uncut says Ken has “discussed the issue directly with Ed Miliband” though the Standard today reports Ken playing down suggestions that Rahman could be re-instated when the new NEC meets for the first time on the last day of this month. The latest from Labour Uncut is that Ken won’t be raising the issue at that particular meeting. – The Guardian

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