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8 December 2010

Youth Fight for Education launch

Sunday 5 December saw the launch rally of Youth Fight for Education (YFE) - a campaign formed by Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) to help coordinate some of the actions taking place in defence of education and with the aim of giving a strategy for victory to the protests.

Michael Wrack, Westminster University YFE

The first speaker was Jethro Waldron, Youth Fight for Jobs college organiser. Jethro outlined the determined mood on the recent student protests, especially amongst college students.

They have often been the most interested in the wider questions around the cuts and the keenest to link their campaigns with workers fighting job cuts.

The attacks in the further education sector (including a 25% total budget cut, the dropping of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and attacks to the Adult Education Grant) means that many working class people will be priced out of any post-16 education.

The next speaker was Lenny Shail, who took part in the recent occupation at Warwick University.

In Warwick they were able to build a fighting anti-cuts group which united the students with staff and acted as an attractive alternative to students angry at the lack of leadership by the National Union of Students (NUS) since the national demo on 10 November.

Lenny also spoke about the potential for victories in the movement as in Scotland and Wales, where EMA has been saved. These gains should be used to inspire students across Britain and to push the struggle on.

Claire Laker-Mansfield, national organiser of Socialist Students, was the final platform speaker. Claire outlined the background to the current struggles as the most far reaching attack on young people in decades. The Browne review, the Comprehensive Spending Review, the betrayal of the Liberal Democrats, the planned trebling of tuition fees, and the cutting of EMA, have all left students with no option but to fight back.

Since the NUS demo, there have been days of action on 24 and 30 November, with another planned for 9 December when the parliamentary vote on tuition fees takes place. Claire explained that whatever the outcome of the vote it will not be the end of the campaign to defend education. The protests need to be escalated, with the aim of a national education shutdown in the new year.

There were plenty of speakers from the floor including college students, university students, education workers, and other trade unionists showing the breadth of support for YFE and the kind of unity that will be necessary to defeat these cuts.