Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/651/10815
Reports of 'Day X' fees protests
On Thursday 9 December, while parliament debated the Con-Dem coalition government's plan to treble university tuition fees, a fifth day of angry protest took place across the country.
The debate ended with MPs disgracefully voting to increase fees to a higher limit of £9,000 a year, with 323 in favour and 302 against, and so the campaigning against this attack must now continue and be stepped up.
In central London, 35,000 students and education workers, many from outside London, marched to parliament to show their strong opposition to education cuts and increased tuition fees.
However, demonstrators were faced with very heavy policing, and again the use by the police of 'kettling', on what was a very cold day.
The recently launched Youth Fight for Education (YFE) held an impromptu rally during the demonstration, with speakers from the YFE campaign itself, London RMT regional secretary Steve Hedley, and student activists from Hull, Cardiff, London and elsewhere.
YFE promised that if parliament voted for higher fees, the campaign against this attack would go on, as will campaigning against all the other attacks on education.
Over 200 school and college students, many under the age of 16, from over 14 different schools in Coventry took the decision to strike or walk out of school on 9 December - Day X.
Many had sacrificed their EMA for the week to fight to make sure it is there next year and after.
Students made their way to the city centre, to the YFE and Socialist Students protest march through the town centre.
Workers from the UCU, Unison, CWU, GMB and Unite trade unions came out to join the students and also a teacher in the NUT union who had organised a 'school trip' for students at his school.
The students were met with applause as they marched loudly through the city centre.
A rally was held in front of the council house, where speakers from many different schools, colleges and trade unions addressed the crowd.
The students and workers responded with deafening cheers when former Coventry Socialist Party councillor, Rob Windsor asked the crowd not only to join the fight against the Con-Dem attacks but also to join the struggle to change society.
"The Rolls-Royce that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were in was splattered with paint and a window was cracked. Why does that demand the attention of dozens of front pages and spark outrage among the mainstream press? So, these unelected aristocrats were frightened by the protest. What isn't being raised is the fact that the extravagant Rolls-Royce they were driving in is paid for by the tax payer, and part of the anger which caused the violence emerged from legitimate disgust that Britain's ultra-wealthy elite are taking millions from our money whilst workers, the unemployed and students are hit with increased VAT and massive cuts to welfare, education, transport and the rest of the public sector."
There were also protests around the country the day before the vote.
The Cornish town of Falmouth was the scene of a lively student demonstration on Wednesday 8 December.200 people marched behind a banner saying "Capitalism isn't working", chanting anti-cuts slogans.
The day began with rousing speeches, including from Socialist Party member Tom Baldwin who mentioned the recent general strike in France as an example of workers and young people fighting alongside each other.
Although the demonstration was mainly made up of students, they made it clear that they were opposing all cuts.
Around 300 people marched in Leeds. The mood was angry but determined, with students from all over the city attending.
Protesters marched from Leeds Met into town before protesting outside the city council chambers where the Labour-led Leeds City Council is planning to cut around 3,000 jobs. We delivered the message that we are not just against education cuts, but the wider cuts agenda.
Leeds Trinity occupation
Activists at Leeds Trinity University have occupied a corporate suite.
The education attacks threaten the very existence of Leeds Trinity University because funding will only remain for stem courses such as maths and sciences, which Trinity doesn't offer.
If Trinity continues to recruit at the same level, even if the higher tuition fees come in - which we are fighting against with everything we have - there will be a deficit of £6 million.
Cuts are already being carried out, tutors have already been 'offered' voluntary redundancy and whole departments are under threat.
Students, with the support of university staff, will fight these attacks with all our might.
Andy Smith and Iain Dalton
Holding Carlisle's first youth demonstration for seven years in a temperature of -10 degrees made jumping to "hop, hop, hop - the cuts must stop" inevitable.
It was organised by Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) and Socialist Students and backed by the University of Cumbria Students Union, with support from the PCS, Unison and UCU trade unions.
100 university, college and school students rallied in the town centre to hear speeches from different colleges.
I spoke for YFJ. It was great to see the protesters get fired up, with some banging placards together and spontaneously chanting "Tory scum, here we come" as we stopped for protests outside the city and county council building to demand they maintain EMA.
After the march there were speeches from the crowd including an excellent statement from some school students.
In The Socialist 15 December 2010:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students