Socialist Worker

Students inspire the battle against Tories

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2229

Students across Britain are in revolt—and the government should be worried.

As Socialist Worker went to press, school, college and university students were planning to converge on city centres to hold rallies and mass civil disobedience against the government on Wednesday—in what has become known as “Day X”.

The march by over 50,000 students on 10 November in London, and the militancy and vibrancy of the occupation of Millbank, home of the Tory HQ, has given a big lift to everyone who wants to fight the cuts.

It was the beginning of a movement. There have been further occupations and protests since then (see page 2).

The Tories are ripping up education at every level. Tuition fees of £9,000 a year will keep the poor out of universities.

Staff cuts and course closures mean everything is being cut to the bone—and beyond.

And the vital Education Maintenance Allowance, which helps poorer students get through college, is being abolished.

In Sheffield, where deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is an MP, university students are enraged at the Lib Dems’ treachery over fee rises.

“It’s shaping up to be a pretty significant day here—and rightly so,” Max Bophey, a first year philosophy student at the University of Sheffield, told Socialist Worker.

Friendly

“There are going to be school walkouts. Students from Barnsley College and other colleges plan to join us.

“The student union wasn’t very friendly at first, but then they supported a march from campus to the town hall.

“Lecturers have come to organising meetings and been really supportive.

Students visited the BBC workers’ picket lines when they struck earlier this month.

“I hope Day X is a signal to workers that now is the time to push forward for strikes,” said Max.

In the north east of England, students at Heaton Manor School, Gosforth High School, Longbenton Community College, Newcastle College and Gateshead College planned walkouts.

They organised together as Students Against the Cuts and released a statement saying, “We are here to fight back and defend our future.”

In the south of England, students from tens of schools, colleges and universities plan to converge in Bournemouth and march on the town hall. Sixth formers and college students are using social network website Facebook to coordinate their plans.

The mood around the country is electric.

The numbers of school students organising to walk out and protest is impressive—and on a scale not seen since 2003, when thousands of school students walked out in protest at the Iraq war.

Rizzvi, a college student in Bournemouth, told Socialist Worker, “Some of us came to the London demo earlier this month.

“When we came back everyone had seen it on the TV and wanted to be part of it.

“It’s been great organising with the other schools and colleges—people feel like they’re not alone.

“And the university and school students want to join us too so we’re all together on this one.”

Francesca Byron is a student at Liverpool John Moores University.

She told Socialist Worker, “The Millbank occupation gave people confidence.

“Lots of workers have said that they are glad someone is standing up to the cuts.

“Many of the students who didn’t go to the protest wish they had after hearing about the occupation. It has definitely drawn people into the movement.”

The rising militancy of the student movement is one of its greatest strengths.

The meetings to organise the protests and walkouts have brought together an important cross section of the working class.

The students are an inspiration to everyone fighting back.

But workers cannot leave the students to fight alone.

Whether in education, health, transport, housing, the councils, manufacturing or the arts, we need to fight together to stop all the cuts the bloodthirsty Tories want.


Where next

A national co-ordination meeting of students will take place this Sunday 28 November to bring together representatives from every city and campus to discuss the fightback.

This has been initiated by the Education Activist Network (EAN), which welcomes all students fighting the cuts. It will take place between 12-5pm at Birkbeck College in central London.

On Sunday 5 December EAN has called a national teach-in on “Education for the people, not the market”, which will bring together academics, artists, musicians, writers, trade unionists and students.

For more information go to http://educationactivistnetwork.wordpress.com


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