Posts Tagged ‘student protest’

Gordon Brown on the student protests

4 December 2010

From an interview in The Guardian:

Brown has sympathy for the students protesting against the government’s decision to raise fees and cut maintenance allowances. “Of course I understand why they are doing it,” he says. “Educational opportunity is the key to the future, yet 2,000 people were turned away from my local college, despite having the qualifications, because grant support is being cut.”

As chancellor, he introduced educational maintenance allowances to provide financial help for those aged 16-18 in order to persuade them to stay on at school. These, to his anger, are now being cut. “I feel passionately that there should be no barrier to children staying on at school.”

Police vs. protesters, Benny Hill style

1 December 2010

From yesterday’s student protests in London: students one step ahead of the Metropolitan Police, determined to avoid a repeat of last week’s kettle experience. I guess the police didn’t expect the students to learn

Lewisham protest tonight

30 November 2010

Police tonight arrested several people outside Lewisham town hall in south-east London as demonstrators tried to force their way into a meeting where councillors voted to cut the council budget by ¬£60m. (…) Sue Luxton, a former Green party councillor who was returning home from work at 6.45pm, said she saw 200 to 300 protesters, including a large number of students from Goldsmiths College. [The Guardian]

 

Tony Benn

29 November 2010

Following on from Barnaby, here is what the older generation had to say on the matter at the Coalition Of Resistance conference:

Student protest, parent protest

27 November 2010

The second day of national student protests is called for Tuesday, 30 November, and the third one for Sunday, 5 December, so parents can also attend.

Mounted police vs. students

26 November 2010

Okay, a ‘horse charge’ is quite a specific term, as a spokesman for the Metropolitan police said yesterday, claiming that “Police horses were involved in the operation, but that did not involve charging the crowd.” A YouTube video has now however emerged, so you can judge for yourself, whether the mounted police had charged at the students or not, and whether this action was entirely necessary (horses make an appearance at 1 min 10 sec):

Here is the background story from The Guardian.

Update: [27 Nov. 10]

The police have now issued another statement, saying “The police horses were trotting,” not charging. It seems that ‘trotting’ was still sufficient to terrify some children, young people and a pregnant woman, and make them flee and break down crying, as the video shows.

Violence against windows and property

15 November 2010

As I hinted at it in my previous post, one debate about the appropriateness of the direct action of student protesters in London on 10 November 2010 emerged around the distinction between violence against inanimate objects versus human beings, in this case the police. Some observers though have condemned both forms of violence, such as the NUS president, the UCU’s official spokesman, as well as Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and Prime Minister David Cameron. However, it appears that Alan Whitaker, national president of the UCU, together with a third of the union’s national executive, has broken ranks with the official line to make yet another distinction, namely that of violence against nonhumans versus the ‘symbolic’ violence of a policy (and the corresponding state apparatus) against humans:

We will not side with those who condemn the violence against windows and property but will not condemn or even name the long-term violence of cuts that will scar the lives of hundreds of thousands by denying them access to the education of their choice.

Many have pointed out the irony that Johnson and Cameron were both members of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford, smashing, among others, shop windows not for political reasons but for mere enjoyment. Here is a video that sums up this point:

An object-oriented protest

12 November 2010

It is not every day you see British students trashing the Conservative Party headquarters in the heart of London. Watch the video on the Guardian website. Indeed, everyone (including the police) expected a happy-clappy march, where humans did the talking (chanting, shouting, singing), while the non-humans (placards, banners, flags) played a supporting role. While that was happening, this event merited about a 20 second coverage on the UK news channels, as news number 3 or so. However, as soon as the protest became more object-oriented, in this case human physical action (using the aforementioned placards, banners etc.) oriented towards 30 Millbank, the building housing Tory HQ, the news channels switched to broadcasting live for several hours, sending a number of reporters and camera crews as well as helicopters to the scene. There was literally no other news reported on BBC News 24 and Sky News for several hours, not even Prime Minister David Cameron’s trip to China.

It is clear even from the Guardian video that the trebling of the tuition fees was not the only issue that exercised the students. It seems that the budget cuts in general have also played some part, as well as the bank bailout, and even the Iraq war was mentioned. Another interesting point is that these protesting students actually won’t be themselves affected by the higher education cuts and tuition fee increases, as it will all kick in after they will have all graduated. So they are representing others, such as their younger siblings but also more generally the future generations. It seems the students have become the conduits for many other issues that have been pre-occupying the Great British public (namely their parents) but about which this public has so far remained surprisingly calm and quiet (compared to protests and strikes seen elsewhere in Europe in recent weeks and months). It has all changed now. Indeed, the students are already planning a second, much bigger, nationwide protest in two weeks’ time, on 24 November.

Coming back to the role of objects. The storming of 30 Millbank was evidently a very effective mode of communication on the part of the protesters, to make things public, judging from the response of the 24 hour news media, who were mesmerised by the spectacle. However, it was a pity that the protest at one point turned human-oriented, namely that missiles were hurled at police officers, injuring them, with one particular idiot throwing a fire extinguisher from the roof of the building at the police. As it happens, the police are themselves facing cuts  (budget cuts, although unfortunately a number of them also suffered cuts to their faces at this event) and redundancies. Probably many Рif not most Рof them are themselves coming from humble backgrounds, thus their children will similarly be affected by the higher education cuts and tuition increases. The object-oriented protest got the students the national attention they wanted and needed, however they probably lost some public sympathy when the protest turned human-oriented.


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