Hundreds of school, college and sixth form students from across Barnet in north London marched to the local Tory Party HQ in Finchley last night chanting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!”
Finchley & Golders Green has a Tory MP. The local council—Barnet—is runs by Tories who think that cheap airline Easyjet is the model for local services. Margaret Thatcher was the MP for Finchley for 33 years.
But last night anger at the Tories’ plans to drive the poor out of colleges and universities was palpable among the 300 teenagers who took to the streets in protest.
A cacophony of whistles mingled with chants. School students sang, “We all need an education, we all want to get degrees” to the tune of Pink Floyd’s 'Another Brick In The Wall '
One homemade placard denounced Tory education secretary Michael Gove as a “miserable pipsqueak”. Another read “Don’t cut our future” and a large banner proclaimed, “They ripped the shirts off our backs”.
A student at the head of the march waved a large homemade red flag.
Alex Clayman, 16, addressed the students with a megaphone saying, “Rich people support the cuts. One protest isn’t enough. We needs loads more, one in every borough—this is just the first.”
It was a sentiment that was widely echoed. Amy Hetherington and Amy Matthews, who both attend Barnet College, told Socialist Worker, “Everything’s for the rich.”
Their friend Adeo Ferndandez, from Southgate College, added, “I’m going to uni next year and more fees will make it much more difficult. Other students need to have protests like this.”
Trade unionists from the GMB, Unison and the local trades council provided stewards for the march after the police got wind of it and insisted on a police presence.
Local Labour councillors also addressed the students.
Alex, who initiated the protest, told Socialist Worker, “I organised the demo because I don’t want to pay £9,000 in fees.” He started a petition and used Facebook. Word spread across the different schools and colleges in the borough.
The students handed in their petition. But this didn’t express their full contempt at the assault on education. So, taking inspiration from the “They ripped the shirts off our backs” banner, they symbolically threw shirts onto the concourse outside Finchley Conservative Association.