Scrap student fees

Kick out this sorry lot!

Chaz Lockett, Sheffield Socialist Students

There’s a part of me that almost feels sorry for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – trapped between his own dissatisfied grassroots Lib Dem members on the one hand, and the rabid Tory back-benchers on the other.

But then I remember what he did to me and my fellow students back in 2010 – he sold us down the river when agreeing to the Con-Dem coalition.

I watched him sign his pledge to abolish tuition fees (instead of tripling them!) on the steps of Sheffield City Hall.

Yet a few months later, me and thousands of my classmates in Sheffield were occupying, marching and organising on campus, having been utterly betrayed, with our futures thrown into uncertainty.

Quite rightly, Nick Clegg’s attempt to save face by apologising to students has been ridiculed. Perhaps his apology might have had a little more weight if he’d apologised for the privatisation of university education, the slashing of teaching budgets, the removal of Education Maintenance Allowance for college and sixth form students, and the tripling of tuition fees.

But no – what he actually apologised for was that he made the promise in the first place!

“There’s no easy way to say this: we made a pledge, we didn’t stick to it – and for that I am sorry,” said Clegg.

“When you’ve made a mistake you should apologise. But more importantly – most important of all – you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. And that’s what we will do.”

“I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it.”

This is a sign of a weak leader of an impotent party, desperately trying to win back support. Recent polls suggest that the Fib Dems will take only nine seats at the next general election.

But students starting courses this year, disgusted with having to pay £9,000 a year in fees, are not in any mood to forgive Clegg. Instead they’re looking to fight back and kick out the Con-Dems.

Socialist Students is meeting students across Britain who support the call for a 24-hour general strike, as part of uniting students and workers against all cuts.

Solidarity from students when workers go on strike will be returned with solidarity when we march – including the National Union of Students demo on 21 November – and when we occupy.

Looking after the 1%

Nick Clegg has said his fees pledge was unaffordable, but there seems to be plenty of money for bankers and fat cats:
  • Student loans: £3 billion a year
  • Corporation tax cuts 2010-2012: £4.5 billion a year
  • Total student debt: £40 billion
  • Total bank bailouts: £850 billion

Socialist Students says:

  • Abolish tuition fees. Write off student debt.
  • For a mass mobilisation of students on both the 20 October TUC demo and the 21 November NUS demo
  • Support the Youth Fight for Jobs fortnight of action on 13-27 October
  • For 21 November to be the start of a mass campaign of demos, walkouts, occupations and nationally coordinated action
  • For student unions to link up with the trade unions. For a 24-hour general strike against austerity that includes both workers and students
  • For education that is fully funded, publicly owned, democratically run and universally free at all levels – a socialist education system