Via Indymedia UK
52,000 people took to the streets in London today, surged past Downing Street, devastated police lines, and occupied the ruling Conservative party’s HQ at 30 Millbank Towers, Westminster. The original march was organised by the National Union of Students (NUS ) in order to demonstrate the feelings of those soon to be, or already, studying at university with regards to the massive increase in tuition fees as well as the simultaneous funding slashes of higher educational institutions.
But the protest was about much more than that. It was about the growing discontent that began long ago, nurtured by the recession, MP’s expenses, big-bank bailouts, and finally brought to a head by a coalition government fronted by classicist Conservative party and propped up by a hypocritical Liberal Democrat party bent on cuts in the name of the ‘Big Society’.
It was billed as a march by students to protest the hike in tuition fees from roughly £3,500 per annum to as much as £9,000. Coupled with this was a cut in the funding that universities and other HI education bodies would receive, resulting in fewer courses, less contact time between students and lecturers, more redundancies, and even closures.
In reality, it was a broad cross section of society demonstrating its frustration at a status quo willing to hand over billions in tax payer’s money to financial institutions, only for George Osborne to turn around and say; now you must get used to ‘austerity’.
According to the Guardian Online , the march numbered at 52,000, more than double the NUS ‘s estimate which would seem to point to people other than students taking part. Indeed, the NUS ‘s president, Aaron Porter, has already distanced his union from the day’s events by “absolutely condemning” what he calls violence at the hands of a “minority” of “splinter groups”.
But in watching the footage which covers the news channels, it is hard to believe that this was anything other than a determined cross-section of people who felt a common purpose, a shared goal, a true example of Mr Cameron’s “Big Society”, to make their opposition to the government’s will noticed.
From within the occupied Tory HQ, activists have released this statement;
“We oppose all cuts and we stand in solidarity with public sector workers, and all poor, disabled, elderly and working people. We are occupying the roof in opposition to the marketisation of education pushed through by the coalition government, and the system they are pushing through of helping the rich and attacking the poor. We call for direct action to oppose these cuts- this is only the beginning of the resistance to the destruction of our education system and public services.”
So in the coming days the coalition government will likely gloss over the fact that this was a demonstration of a disaffected public, and paint it as a violent skirmish by a radical few. But we must remember that the reality was thousands from all walks of life rallied against a common enemy, and we must continue to do so.