Mark Bergfeld

Home » Education and Neoliberalism » Where next for the student movement?

Where next for the student movement?

students-carrying-placard-007First published in Socialist Worker (UK)7 Dec 2010

We have seen another huge outpouring of student anger onto the streets of Britain this week.

School, college and university students are once again coming out in their thousands to oppose the coalition’s plans to triple tuition fees and scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance. And this week is by no means the end of it.

The vibrancy and energy behind the university occupations, school walkouts and local and national protests will not be halted by warm words—or by any parliamentary vote.

If MPs vote to close higher education to the poor, then a wave of resistance will once again engulf Britain. And it will also be about the attack on EMA, which is so vital for over half a million young people.

Energy

Students have inspired millions of workers across the country with their militancy and energy. Now it is clear that the only way we can win is by cementing those links we have forged into radical mass action.  We need workers and students to fight and strike together against the cuts.

Students have occupied colleges and blocked roads, but we need workers to bring the country to a standstill.

Our side has shown its potential strength and students have helped to set the pace of the revolt—no coalition cuts should now be allowed to go by without mass resistance.

But neither workers nor students can rely on their union leaderships. Aaron Porter, president of the NUS, backed away from his promise to support a national demonstration on the day of the vote and instead asked students to go to a candlelit vigil.

It is a disgrace that Porter and others in the NUS have turned their backs on occupying students when they need legal and financial support in the face of court injunctions and evictions.

This is not the leadership that students deserve. We must continue to build independent networks of militant students and workers who can stand firm against each and every cut.

We have no intention of going away. We must build on our strengths and resolve our weaknesses quickly over the coming weeks to be ready for the battles in the new year.

I urge everyone to come to the planning meeting on Friday 10 December and take part in the “Save EMA” day events (see activists’ diary below) to discuss the way forward.

There will be another parliamentary vote on fees in January. We will be there.

Placards will burn long into the winter months in every town and city in Britain as students and workers unite to melt the coalition.


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