Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/10678
Youth Fight for Education says: "student struggle must escalate"
National education shut down called
'Kettle Scotland Yard' on December 11
On November 24, 1,600 police were used to 'kettle' up to 6,000 protesting school, college and university students on Whitehall for over eight hours.
This compares with 250 officers policing the 50,000 on November 10. The police 'kettled' the demonstration and denied people their right to protest, keeping thousands of protesters, the vast majority under-18 and many younger than 16, prisoner without access to food, adequate toilets, or seating, in near zero temperatures.
It is being reported in the media that this was in response to violence, in particular the trashing of a police van.
However this did not happen until after the kettle was set up. In addition Youth Fight for Jobs had prior permission with the police for a route that would have taken protesters past parliament (see below email from the Met).
Not only were those on the protest held in the kettle, but local café owners and workers were prevented from leaving as was the general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Billy Hayes.
Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs, says:
"Despite a legally agreed route, liaison and discussion with the police, protesters found themselves kettled and trapped for hours.
"Many of those held were on their first ever protest and just wanted to make the anger they feel about what the government is doing to them known.
"This is a blatant attack on the right to protest and we want to see how the police like it being done to them.
"That's why we are planning to kettle Scotland Yard on 11 December in a peaceful protest in defence of our democratic right to protest".
24 November saw more than 100,000 school, college and university students walk out in protest at the plans to raise tuition fees, cancel the Education Maintenance Allowance and carry through massive cuts to education budgets.
24 November followed hot on the heels of the 50,000+ demonstration of students through central London on 10 November.
Youth Fight for Education calls on the movement to escalate further.
Claire Laker-Mansfield, national organiser of Socialist Students says:
"Despite the refusal of Cameron and Clegg to budge over fees, EMA and cuts, we are 100% convinced that they are rattled by the mass movement of young people and students that is developing in opposition to them.
"The announcement of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament that EMA will not be scrapped in Wales or Scotland has proved the point that young people have been making all along: the politicians are open to pressure and we can make them buckle.
"Parliament is due to vote on the proposed rise in tuition fees in the very near future. The date has not yet been set - it is a 'day X'. We are putting the call out that when the date is set for the vote, we organise for the entire education sector to shut down in protest with walkouts, strikes and mass demonstrations.
"If last Wednesday is anything to go by the protests will be larger than anything we've seen so far."
Youth Fight for Education has its launch conference on Sunday 5 December, 2pm, Christopher Ingold Building, University College London, Gordon Street, WC1H 0AJ. The campaign is being launched by Youth Fight for Jobs (www.youthfightforjobs.com) and Socialist Students (www.socialiststudents.org.uk)
Email from the Met Police sent on 22.11.10 to Ben Robinson, YFJ Chair:
Sorry about the delay, Ben.
We have just been trying to sort out the rally point for you. It will definitely be Caxton Street. So your route is: Horse Guards Avenue assembly (can't have the side street due to road works, so we're giving you the main street to form up in) Whitehall > Richmond Terrace (15 minute protest) > Parliament Street > Parliament Square > Great George Street > Storey's Gate > Tothill Street > Broadway > Caxton Street.
Samantha Lockwood | Police Constable 5475CO | CO11(1) Event Planning Unit | Public Order Branch