Posts Tagged ‘march’

Labour must be prepared to challenge the right-wing press

20/11/2010, 12:44:59 PM

by John Tipper

It was only as the march slowed on the approach to the Tate that I was able to take a good look at the crowd. To my left was the Buckinghamshire New University hockey team, who in addition to their sporting livery were wearing blue foam antlers; even then they struck me as unlikely to lead an armed insurrection, although I also concluded that if they did it would be worth sticking around for.

Directly ahead, a student had clambered onto a bin and was pleading for somebody to hand him a sign. Somebody did, apparently without noticing that it was in Welsh – cue much good-humoured speculation from the non-Celtic contingent about what it might actually say.

Amongst the forest of placards I noticed slogans bracingly direct (“Fuck Fees”) and oblique (“Would you cut a CAT? Then why cut EduCATion?”) and cursed myself again for forgetting mine.

At one point I observed a burly fellow with a beard and a Lib Dem sticker attempting a spirited if unconvincing defence of Nick Clegg – he’s got the tuition fees issue wrong but he’s a decent guy, always polite and nicely turned out etc. But not only was he pleasingly juxtaposed against a sign depicting Clegg as a weasel, I also began to suspect that his fellow Liberals Against Fees were not wholly in agreement. Some were loudly shushing, but most of them simply wore the pained expression of a pre-teen whose parents have insisted on dropping them right outside the gates on their first day of secondary school. (more…)

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The old cancer at the heart of the student riot

11/11/2010, 09:00:18 AM

by Luke Akehurst

THE SAD lesson of the hijacking of part of Wednesday’s NUS demo – by a small minority who turned it into a mini-riot – is that some of the iron laws of left politics from the last time there was a Tory PM still hold true.

The mainstream left, whether that’s the Labour party, its affiliated trade unions, NUS or other organisations campaigning against the cuts needs to know that the bad guys are not all to our right on the political spectrum.

Idealistically, we might have thought that the sheer horror of the cuts being proposed by the Tory-Lib Dem government would mean all forces on the left in Britain could unite to protest and fight to protect key public services and benefits.

Wednesday’s behaviour killed that idealistic dream as it probably killed the political enthusiasm of some of the 50,000 ordinary students on the march.

On the plus side 49,000+ of them marched peacefully. By any stretch that’s a remarkable political mobilisation. The entire membership of all the student political organisations in the UK plus non-student supporters and non-partisan student union activists does not get anywhere near 10,000 people. So 80% or more of the marchers were “real people” driven to political protest by the government, not long-term political activists.

This should therefore have been a marvellous opportunity to get an entire new generation involved in politics, inspired by participation in a powerful protest that would have got their case all over the media and put fear in the hearts of the Lib Dem MPs who betrayed their erstwhile student voters. This should have been the start of a campaign that would have seen those 50,000 marchers go back to their colleges and work to either stop a government policy in its tracks or failing that contribute to mobilising their fellow students to evict Tory and Lib Dem MPs in university seats in the next general election. (more…)

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