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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 November 2014

Students march on 19 November...

Build the education fightback

Claire Laker-Mansfield, Socialist Students national organiser

Four years ago, on 10 November 2010, London's streets thronged with over 50,000 young people.

The mood was angry, but it was also electric. This was the start of a movement which gave thousands their first taste of struggle.

Two weeks later, up to 100,000 students walked out of schools and colleges. Austerity's bitter medicine, in this case the tripling of tuition fees and snatching of education maintenance allowance, was angrily rejected.

Students marching on 19 November 2014 will rightly be asking what the next steps are for our movement today. How can we rebuild an effective movement to challenge the government and end austerity in education?

The immediate task will be solidarity with university staff participating in a marking boycott and potential strike action over pay and conditions. Their fight is ours too.

But there is also the question of our leadership.


Outrageously, in the run up to the march, the right wing leadership of the National Union of Students (NUS) attempted to pull the plug. In an online statement, NUS president Toni Pearce announced she and other full time officers were overturning a decision by the union's national executive council to support the protest. "Safety concerns" were the given reason.

This is a disgraceful dereliction of duty. In the run up to a general election, with further attacks on education threatened, failing to organise or even support a national demonstration is criminal.

Should the NUS have genuine concerns about safety, its attitude should be to provide resources and expertise to assist organisers in resolving them. Better still, if official student leaders had organised the demonstration in the first place, they could easily have prevented any such difficulties.

We must not be prepared to wait for 'permission' from right wingers like Toni Pearce to organise the desperately needed fightback.

Looking back, the magnificent 2010 student movement can seem distant. It too was betrayed by the leadership of the NUS, who abandoned the fight after the first demonstration.

Combined with this, the working class - with its huge economic power - had yet to enter the arena of struggle. Despite boiling anger and a strong sense of solidarity with students, workers were being held back by a 'block at the top' of the trade unions.

These factors meant round one in the battle against sky high fees and cuts ended in defeat.


But no defeats are final. Following on from the march, we need to return to our campuses and continue to organise against cuts. This means strikes, protests and occupations to keep the pressure up on university management and students' union leaders to resist attacks.

It also means fighting for a political alternative. None of the main parties can be trusted with our education. Sitting tight and hoping for a Labour government - the party who introduced fees in the first place - is not a viable strategy.

The energy and vitality of the student movement, when linked with the muscle of organised workers - the trade union movement - makes a formidable force. The scenes of resistance in 2010 were just the beginning.

Students and workers unite!

National student demo

Free Education - no cuts, no fees, no debt!

Wednesday 19 November, central London

Assembles 12noon, Malet Street, near Euston

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 12 November 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

We can win 10 an hour

Socialism '14: infused with contagious confidence

'A magical fairyland' of corporate tax avoiders

What recovery? Thousands more jobs axed

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Afghanistan war: A legacy of death and destruction

Mid-term elections do not mean shift to right in US

Socialist history

25 years after the Berlin Wall fell

Socialist Party youth and students

Build the education fightback

Fight for our future!

Socialist Party workplace news

St Mungo's strikers celebrate victory

Care UK workers to ballot on 2% pay deal

Sheffield recycling: 'We're out until the boss is out'

Crane drivers tell HTC: It's time to pay up!

Fight JCB's 150 job cuts

London RMT: Vote John Reid

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leading Scottish trade unionists back TUSC

Leicester party building school

Reviews and readers' comments

Exhibition review: Disobedient Objects

Theatre Review: United We Stand

Little charity from high paid care bosses

Labour - the singer or the song?

Flawed maths of the bedroom tax


Heulwen Davies 1960-2014


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