Students take over Parliament Square to oppose cuts and tuition fees – London – 9 Dec 2010

FRFI student society members had contingents on yesterday’s protest, one starting at the London School of Economics and the other at University College Union. We joined forces to march into Parliament Square to oppose the government’s bill to raise university tuition fees up to £9,000 a year. Police had put up metal barricades to keep protesters out of the square, but as up to 30,000 school, college and university students poured into the surrounding road, the barriers were quickly flattened and the green taken over. Almost immediately police in riot gear, on horses and in vans blocked the entrances to the square ‘kettling’ the youth into the area. If you leave a kettle on it boils over.

Throughout the afternoon, thousands of youth enjoyed a festival of defiance. There were fires to keep warm, music to dance to, hot teas and food distributed and metal barriers were used to set up toilets. When mounted police began charging and swinging batons into crowds of teenagers and young people waiting to leave the area, the youth acted with good proletarian instincts: blocking the horses’ path with the metal barriers. A healthy disrespect was shown for the paraphernalia of imperialist conquest which adorns Parliament square. The statues of Churchill and his ilk were decorated with placards and political slogans. Others used their sound systems blasting ‘conscious hip hop’ and the crowds of defiant dancers around them to hold back police onslaughts. There was a strong sense of solidarity and unity, as youth worked together to counter-attack tooled up police – the bodies of armed men who protect the capitalist state.

The National Union of Student’s showed its irrelevance to the new movement, withdrawing support for the protest and instead holding a candlelit vigil on the Thames. Their event was poorly attended. With the apologists and liberals out of the way, there were few who attempted to divert or undermine the righteous anger of young people who are seeing their future sold out in the ruling class’s attempt to stave off the capitalist crisis. Capitalism is a system of violence imposed by the bourgeoisie against the working class. Among the 43 demonstrators injured was 20-year old Alfie Meadows, from Middlesex University who suffered brain damage and had a three-hour operation after he was smashed over the head by a police truncheon as he tried to leave the Westminster Abbey area. The violence of the oppressed is self-defence. Self-defence is no offense!

When news came through that the vote to raise tuition fees had been passed, the protestors booed and hissed and promised to fight on. Few were really surprised. As Al Capone said, ‘Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class’. The ConDem government tell us ‘we’ll all in this together’ but 23 out of the 29 who attend cabinet meetings are millionaires, as were ten cabinet members of the previous Labour government.

Inequality in Britain is greater than it has been for 60 years. The working class youth on the protest know this and they recognised the royal car carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla as a legitimate target of their rage. Likewise the high street stores owned by multinational corporations, which support the coalition cuts whilst dodging tax payments.

As the movement against neo-liberal austerity continues, an important task will be to build defence for those arrested: 34 of them yesterday and many more on previous protests. With years of experience in defence campaigns, FRFI will help to build the movement against the cuts and in solidarity with those punished for opposing them.



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