The demonstration of November 9th was a sign that resistance to the Governments reforms to Education is far from over, but showed signs that the movement has shifted from where it was this time last year. In the wake of huge strike action on the 30th of June of nearly 1 million workers, and after the riots of August 2011, the mood on the street was noticeably more angry, determined and had a sense of real unity between students and workers. This was most keenly shown in the attempts of striking electricians to join the student demonstration after their actions that same morning. (see video below)
Essex Education Activist Network took a coach of over 75 students to the protest and showed that Essex is still at the heart of the movement against cuts, fees and in defiance of the HE White Paper. The demonstration itself was nearly 10,000 strong according to organisers but was policed by over 4,000 officers including dog units, mounted police and officers equipped with rubber bullets. This ‘total policing’, informed in many ways by the riots, was a clear attempt to intimidate those who had decided to protest. The demonstration itself was in reality, a slow moving kettle and snatch squads were used to arrest any students who dared to break the police’s unspecified rules.
This shows the clear need to incorporate ideas around defending the right to protest as part of our movement.
The demonstration ended in Moorgate, again in a kettle. However, despite the lack of physical unity of students and workers as a result of the kettle, the overwhelming feeling of the day was that if we are to win this fight, unity between students and the power of the organised working class is key. It is clear that Britain is a nation deeply divided by fault lines- lines based on inequality, injustice and the destroying of an entire generations future. But, it is also a country where resistance to these faults is gaining momentum. That is why the 30th of November strikes are so important.
On November 30th, we should join together in physical unity with public sector workers, on picket lines, in solidarity rallies and in the streets as we stand together in defiance of this Government.