Socialist Worker

20,000 students on fees protest

Issue No. 1675

'WICKED!' That was how one student summed up last week's national NUS demonstration against student poverty that saw up to 20,000 students march through central London. Despite this magnificent turnout none of the national press saw fit to report the protest.

Coaches travelled to London from all over Britain, bringing medical students in white coats, student nurses in uniform, and students from sports societies in their kit. 'This is the first march I've ever been on,' said Laura from Loughborough University. 'It's been fantastic, brilliant. 'We've just got to do something about what this government is doing to education.'

Thousands of students joined a sit-down on Waterloo Bridge and then tried to break through the police lines that were blocking the march from going to parliament. There was chanting and dancing as the police, with horses, looked on, terrified that the students would succeed. 'We'll block something else!' students cried when turned back by the police, and a breakaway march of up to 3,000 then wended its way to south London.

There it rejoined the rest of the march at Kennington Park where Labour NUS president Andrew Pakes was booed and jeered when he spoke. Protesting students felt he has not done enough to build a real fight against the tuition fees his party has introduced. The biggest cheer went to NATFHE union general secretary Paul Mackney when he urged students not to be 'too reasonable' in their fight.

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Sat 4 Dec 1999, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1675
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