The student protests very nearly defeated the coalition less than six months into its rule. MPs voted by 323 to 302 to allow fees to rise to up to £9,000 a year. A coalition majority of 80 fell to 21.
Tens of thousands protested in London on Thursday, and thousands elsewhere. This is not the end, but the beginning of a new phase of revolt.
Students, their parents and many workers will feel a deeper anger now.
A cabinet of 18 millionaires has wrecked the future of millions of young people. It wants to move on to do the same for those who rely on Education Maintenance Allowance.
A policy based on lies, which the Lib Dems pledged not to introduce, was pushed through in the shadow of mounted police charging students.
They seriously injured some and could have killed people. What a travesty of democracy!
The main streets outside parliament daubed with graffiti and littered with rocks tells their own story
The police complain that some students “were violent”. But it was the police who spent hours attacking wholly peaceful protesters.
The government “winning” a vote is not the end of the matter. The main protests over Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax in the 1980s took place after the law was passed—and our side won.
In France in 2006 the government pushed through the CPE law aimed at slashing young workers’ employment rights. It was met with huge youth mobilisations, but parliament voted it through.
The revolt spread to workers, inspired by the young people’s fightback. After a month of strikes and mass protests the government withdrew the law.
The political crisis of the Coalition will be worse after this vote. Lib Dems voted three different ways—and even some Tories rebelled! They feel the breath of furious voters on their necks.
The student movement has transformed politics. It has shattered the myth that people are too ground down, or bought off, or apathetic to resist.
It has unmasked the fake radicalism of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.
One protester after the vote was announced said, “A few months ago I was in Parliament Square trying to get the Lib Dems into government. Now I’m here trying to get them out. It’s a sell-out.” Such feelings will get stronger.
Now it’s time to prepare for the next round of protests, to build for occupations, strengthen the unity of university, college and school students—and to make links with workers.
Cameron and Clegg were pushed to the edge tonight. Stepping up the battle can bring them down.
6pm, Friday 10 December, Hong Kong Lecture Theatre, Clement House, London School of Economics, Aldwych
Day of Action to defend EMA
Monday 13 December,
—4pm: after school protest at Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, 1 Victoria St, London SW1H 0ET.
—6pm: Unkettle Education! public meeting, Central London.
Called by Education Activist Network, supported by London Region UCU