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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 November 2006

Where now after the protests?

MEMBERS OF Socialist Students marched as a red, socialist contingent on the demonstration against fees.

Ben Robinson

Students from across the country took up our chants. We called for an end to fees, and for a mass movement to force the government to restore free university education. Now students who were there need to go back to their campuses and start building a movement in their local areas.

The demonstration's mood was to campaign and organise to defeat fees. Even NUS president Gemma Tumelty started her speech with a popular chant from the demonstration - when they say cutback, we say fight back!

However, the NUS national leadership did little to build for this demonstration, calling it on a Sunday when it would have little impact, and only campaigning for no rise in the amount that students pay, not for free education for all.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of the demonstration was clear - they were marching for an end to fees! If students are to build a mass campaign to defeat fees, huge pressure will need to be put on the pro-New Labour NUS leadership both nationally and locally.

This demonstration showed how angry students are about paying 3,000 a year fees. Now further campaigning is absolutely vital to build a movement that can defeat fees. At a Socialist Students meeting after the demonstration, the idea was raised of protests outside vice-chancellors' offices, and banks on campus.

There was widespread agreement on the need to build a national campaign against fees, starting with local protests on campus, building towards a national, mid-week demonstration that is clearly for free education for all.

Fees bring misery and debt to students' lives. However, they can be defeated by a mass movement of students and workers. This needs to be built now through a series of protests, demonstrations and democratic discussion.

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