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Now we need mass action to beat the fees

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FURY ERUPTED among protesters outside parliament on Tuesday night.
Issue 1886

FURY ERUPTED among protesters outside parliament on Tuesday night.

As news of the fees vote spread, the chant of “shame, shame” went up as hundreds of students pointed at parliament.

Emily Randall from Manchester told Socialist Worker, “The vote is absolutely disgraceful after so much opposition. This will give Britain a US-style education system. But the campaign is not over. We will carry on fighting. Blair is so unpopular, I don’t believe he can carry on.”

Jasmine, from Le Swap school, said, “I am really upset. Students should carry on fighting, though. Labour is becoming more right wing. This is not real democracy-it’s about whips and parliamentary parties.”

Hundreds of students protested throughout the day. Some 250 from across the country gathered to lobby their MPs. Then another 250 marched to Parliament Square from London universities and staged a sit-down protest. Large contingents of school students also joined the protests.

Helena Puig is president of the student union at Oxford University. She told Socialist Worker, “We went into occupation at 4pm yesterday. It was a way we could demonstrate our feelings. Our vice-chancellor is in favour of top-up fees. This government is privatising all our public services. I think we need a broader campaign.”

Dan Ansell, a sixth form student from Cambridge, told Socialist Worker, “This measure will put lots of school students off going to university. I don’t know anyone in my college who supports top-up fees. We can’t rely on Labour MPs.”

Paul Mackney, leader of the Natfhe college lecturers’ union, told Socialist Worker, “This demo of students represents the view of the majority of the population. I don’t think the fight is over. People will fight this in the future.”

Keniesha Miller is a medical student from St George’s College. She said, “They say this will widen participation, but they forget people will have to work out how much debt they will get into. I am on a full loan and I will be in £25,000 of debt by the end of my course.”

A group of Cambridge University students walked from their college to London. One of them, Cinar Altun, told Socialist Worker, “We have marched 60 miles from Cambridge because education is a right and we can’t just sit back. Labour MPs are not exactly renowned for backbone. If this goes through we will have a mass campaign and boycott the fees.”

Top-up fees are just the tip of the iceberg

TOP-UP FEES for students are hated because they symbolise everything this government stands for-pampering the rich and squeezing every last penny from the poor.

The fees are part of Blair’s “historic mission” to tear apart the welfare state. He wants to make people pay for public services and to force those on average earnings to fund the very poorest while the rich get away with their wallets full.

Every day brings news of more vicious New Labour attacks on ordinary people.

On Monday the government announced it wants to scrap legal aid for thousands of people by means testing defendants in magistrates’ courts. On the same day, the Joint Committee on Human Rights slammed the government’s flagship asylum proposals as “inherently objectionable as an attack on an important element of the scheme for protecting rights”.

Blair, Brown and their government are united in their determination to suck up to the City while grinding our faces in the dirt.

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