Socialist Worker

Students ignite the battle against the cuts

Issue No. 2227

Students in the courtyard at the Tory HQ, 30 Millbank (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Students in the courtyard at the Tory HQ, 30 Millbank (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The anger against the assaults on workers, students and the poor crashed down on the Tories on Wednesday.

It was the biggest demonstration against the government since David Cameron went into Downing Street.

It was brilliant to see so many students and lecturers take the initiative and give a focus for the hatred millions feel about the Tory cuts. Militant protest is the way to push back the attacks.

The 50,000 students, lecturers and other protesters who took to the streets were fighting £9,000-a-year tuition fees that will close university education to most working class students. They are also fighting against the cuts in courses and staff, and the ending of the Education Maintenance Allowance.

The mood of anger that has swept Europe arrived in London. The lively protest was filled with anger as protestors chanted “Tory scum”.

But they were also revolting about much more too. The demo—and the occupation of the Tory headquarters in the Millbank Tower—were a sign of the fury against the Tories pampering the rich while assaulting the poor.

And it showed the anger at a society where profit comes before any human need.

Tory headquarters at Millbank is the symbol of all that.

As the demonstration marched past, a large group broke away into the building’s courtyard. Then some occupied the foyer.

More and more joined them until up to 5,000 students and lecturers were protesting against the Tories blocking the road outside.

They brushed aside the few police officers defending the Tory tower.

Protesters lit bonfires in the courtyard and chanted against the Tories.

One student told Socialist Worker, “We got a few police helmets and threw them on the fires.”

Some demonstrators smashed several of the building’s front windows—to massive cheers. And protesters on the pavement sat on office chairs, and a sofa they’d removed from the building.

Students burned bright red flares in the courtyard. Some demonstrators appeared on the building’s roof, waving banners.

It was nearly an hour before a unit of riot police turned up and blocked the doors to stop more people entering the building.

But the carnival atmosphere outside continued.

The riot police were pushed back on several occasions by the sheer number of protesters. Eventually, using brutal force, the police were able to drive the protesters out.

We know that breaking a window won’t stop the cuts. But that wasn’t what was important about the events at Millbank.

The main point is that it showed the willingness to take the struggle to the Tories—to resist rather than surrender. That’s exactly the right attitude.

Socialist Worker stands with the Millbank protesters.

The leaders of the NUS were wrong to condemn them.

Wednesday showed that we don’t have to wait until the TUC’s planned demo next March to get on the streets and rage against the government assaults.

Every student should go back determined to build a bigger, more powerful and more combative movement to defend education.

And everyone should be encouraged by Wednesday’s events to start radical fightbacks of their own.

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