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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2011

Youth Democratic Rights Campaign

Student receives draconian sentence

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Edward Woollard, the student protester who has admitted dropping a fire extinguisher from the roof of the Tory Party HQ on 10 November 2010, has been handed a 32-month jail sentence.

Claire Laker Mansfield, Socialist Students

Although what he did was clearly extremely dangerous (and is not condoned by Socialist Students), this prison sentence is an utterly inappropriate response to what was a 'moment of madness' in which, thankfully, no one was hurt.

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

The incident took place in a very highly charged and unexpected situation, with the police behaving violently towards students - using batons and beating back the protesters.

Despite this, and the fact that 30 people attested to Edward's good character, the judge still saw fit to punish him in this way. The personal cost to Edward Woollard will be a high one, but the sentence was not aimed simply at him as an individual; it was an attempt to send a message to the whole movement.

The purpose of this long jail term, the judge even admitted, is to "make an example" of Edward and gives further evidence that the government plans to follow through on its promise to use the 'full force of the law' against protesters.

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Over 200 students have been arrested so far. Clearly shaken by the wave of mass action that broke out in the autumn, the Con-Dems are keen to quell the student movement through victimisation and intimidation. They also wish to set a precedent, preparing the ground for dealing with the mass struggles likely to develop in the next months as workers move into action against the vicious cuts agenda.

The case also exposes the enormous hypocrisy of both the government and the police. What of the police who dragged Jody McIntyre from his wheelchair and almost killed student Alfie Meadows through a blow to the head with a baton?

And what of the MPs who, whilst protected by riot police assembled in their thousands, voted to sign away the future of a whole generation?

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

There is clearly an attempt underway to put young people off protesting and fighting back. The treatment of students involved in the Millbank protest, demonstrations on 24 and 30 November and the march on 9 December, with hundreds of arrests being made, is all part of this.

We must argue for greater organisation and for elected stewards to protect our demonstrations. We need democratic, anti-cuts and Youth Fight for Education groups in every school, college and university, linked on a regional and national level, able to organise and coordinate action.

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan

Police on student demonstration - hundreds of protesters have been injured by police violence, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Elected stewards from every anti-cuts campaign would have the authority to direct and protect the demonstrations, making them as safe and effective as possible.

The Youth Democratic Rights campaign has been set up by Youth Fight for Jobs and Education to defend the right to protest. We say no to the criminalisation of students and call for the charges to be dropped against protesters.

Although the government won the vote on tripling tuition fees on 9 December, this fight is far from over. Now we need to rebuild the momentum of the student movement.

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In The Socialist 19 January 2011:


National Shop Stewards Network

Unite against all the cuts

Discussing an NSSN anti-cuts campaign


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Save our NHS!


International socialist news and analysis

Tunisia in revolt


Socialist Party news and analysis

MPs' expenses scam continues: for workers' MPs on a worker's wage

Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election: A left-wing workers' alternative needed

Wales referendum: Vote Yes on 3 March - Defend public services in Wales

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Fighting cuts in Somerset


Socialist Party youth and students

Student receives draconian sentence

Students demand - 'save our EMA'

Education Maintenance Allowance: 11 January day of action

Urgent action needed to end youth unemployment


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS members vote for battle against cuts

Strike at sweatshop DWP centres

Teachers strike against redundancies

Heinz strikes force improved offer

Cameron 'thanks' postal workers by axing their jobs and pensions

Workplace news in brief


 

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