Supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! were among the over 50,000 students from across Britain who came together in London on 10 November to march against the attacks on higher education announced in the government's October spending review. More than 60 students occupied the roof of the Millbank tower, home to the headquarters of the Conservative Party. Windows were smashed and effigies of Coalition government leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg set on fire in protest against the most savage attacks on higher education in decades.
The government plans to cut university teaching budgets by 40% and raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 per year - almost three times their current level.
Riot police and dogs were employed against demonstrators - a number of whom were beaten and injured. At least 32 people were arrested.
Demonstrators were very clear – we will not stand by idly whilst brutal cuts are brought upon working people and students. We did not cause the capitalist crisis, and we certainly will not pay for it. Students still inside the Millbank Tower on the evening of 10 November issued this statement:
‘We oppose all cuts and we stand in solidarity with public sector workers, and all poor, disabled, elderly and working people. We are occupying the roof in opposition to the marketisation of education pushed through by the coalition government, and the system they are pushing through of helping the rich and attacking the poor. We call for direct action to oppose these cuts - this is only the beginning of the resistance to the destruction of our education system and public services.’
Their principled, militant stance is in sharp contrast to that of the National Union of Students leadership, whose President, Labour Party member Aaron Porter, condemned the ‘despicable’ actions of ‘rogue protesters’. More demonstrations can be expected as the government continues its attacks.