Queen Mary encampment. Photo: James Ivens
Queen Mary encampment. Photo: James Ivens

James Ivens, London Socialist Party

Student fury against the Israeli state onslaught in Gaza is crying out from encampments at dozens of unis.

Socialist Students and the Socialist Party members are there in support – camping in some occupations, organising solidarity actions for others, and discussing among students and workers how this movement can win.

It’s not good enough that vice-chancellors – earning six figures – won’t let the movement see the university’s accounts. While they take home ten times the average wages of staff, they’re dead quiet on warmongers paying institutions.

We say: disclose! Open the books to democratic inspection by elected representatives of the student body and campus trade unions. Contracts wrapped up in slaughter and occupation must be ended – with no cuts to courses and jobs.

It’s not good enough to cut back conditions for students, and thrust staff into poverty or unemployment. Fees, profit, competition – it’s just not working. Even the Financial Times says the “funding model for UK universities that has been allowed to evolve is at breaking point”!

We say: end marketisation! Cancel tuition fees and debts – replace them with living grants and public funding, for free education as a public service. Then there’s no ‘excuse’ to prop up war for cash, or make workers and students pay with cuts.

It’s not good enough that none of the main parties are saying what so obviously is needed. They back the war and marketisation because big business uses them to make profits off the rest of us.

We need a political voice

We say: students and workers need a voice in politics! We can’t leave it to the rich and their politicians to fight for our interests. Camps can lobby local MPs to explain their positions. But the bulk of MPs back the war. So we need a list of candidates in the general election, answerable to students, trade unionists, and the working class, stubbornly arguing to end war, cuts and privatisation. That’d be a step in the direction of a big new party that we can all make our own, to fight the warmonger bosses!

Right now, none of what we’re offered is good enough. The occupations show readiness to fight for something better. So did the student rent strikes starting 2021, and the waves of trade union strikes starting 2022, and hundreds of thousands marching for Gaza. There’s power in numbers.

We say: build the movement! Leafleting and campaign stalls on campus, and marches to other schools, colleges and unis, can draw more students and workers in. Campus trade unions can defend encampments – pass motions in support, demanding no punitive or discriminatory measures against those taking part. Student unions can build too – by calling open meetings of students and staff to discuss demands and how to build.

And if you’re sick of “it’s not good enough” – if you want to help build something lasting to challenge war, oppression and capitalism – join Socialist Students. Join the Socialist Party.