Thousands of students will today descend on London to participate in a demonstration against the coalition government’s decision to increase student tuition fees to £9000 from 2012. The protest which is being organised by the University of London Union and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is expected to attract 10,000 people from universities across the United Kingdom. There are of course concerns that the protest could be hijacked by anarchists and those wishing to cause criminal damage to property as in the last student protest in November and December 2010 where significant damage was caused to the Conservative Campaign Headquarters.
The protest is almost a year since the last demonstration in which a car carrying His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall was attacked by protesters on Regent Street in the West End of London. One of the protesters made contact with the Duchess according to the Home Secretary.
Many will be particularly focussing on the style of policing used in this demonstration, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) are being led by a new Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe and Metropolitan Police Officers have been given permission to use baton rounds should the demonstration get out of hand and turn violent. The MPS have sent out 450 letters to people arrested in connection to public order offences at protests within the past year warning them against causing trouble at the demonstration. The police do expect this to be a peaceful protest which they say has been well organised with the campaign groups.
The demonstration will begin at 12PM followed by a rally at 3.30PM. The MPS expect people to disperse at 5.30PM and several roads will be closed throughout the day. You can see the demonstration route by clicking here.
Anybody participating or wanting more information about the student demonstration can follow the Metropolitan Police on Twitter here or by texting ‘Police’ to 83123 for free updates to your phone.
Young people are increasingly becoming more and more apathetic towards politics, and it is no wonder. With broken promises from politicians (of all sides) and what we are seeing from this Conservative led government young people are turning away from politics. Young people who in particular voted for the Liberal Democrats in May because of their promise to abolish tuition fees, have now witnessed the exact party they voted for increase tuition fees from £3290 a year up to £9000 a year. And the exact people who have increased the fees received a free university education in most cases.
In my opinion, the Labour government were of course wrong to introduce tuition fees in the first place and the way the party passed the Higher Education Bill in the House of Commons using Scottish MPs was wrong, and that is why a large number of English Labour MPs voting against the introduction, in the end it passed the House of Commons by 5 votes (316 to 311). It was a bad move, and we should offer as much help as possible to those students from particularly poorer backgrounds who want to better their lives by furthering their education in order to get a well paid job and do well for themselves.
As a result of this latest tuition fee increase, young people are going to end up graduating with up to £35,000 worth of debt; they are going to be paying that debt until they are in their thirties in most cases and their is no guarantee of a job at the end of it all. The Labour party needs to offer a new approach; the graduate tax seems to be the better of the two evils. The Labour party must reach out to those young people, those affected by the scrapping of EMA, the increase of tuition fees, and the scrapping of the future jobs fund. Over 20% of 16-24 year olds are currently unemployed in the UK, that figure will inevitably rise as more and more people lose their job as part of the fragile economic situation and as part of the government cuts. It is becoming increasingly difficult for younger people to be able to afford to travel to college or to university as VAT is up and train and bus fares are rising.
Surely if the government want to save money and ensure that poorer students can still attend further education, then rather than scrapping EMA as it is, surely they should replace it with some sort of lunch and travel voucher thus ensuring it is used for what it is intended for and thus stopping this EMA money from being used for nights out which I am sure does happen on very rare occasions. Perhaps a magnetic card which students could swipe onto a system to pay for a lunch or bus travel to college? I know that students must stay in further education until they are aged 18, however for particularly those poorer students I think it would be quite right for the state to offer them a hand up, some help getting to college, to buy a lunch etc. I think the idea I have just mentioned would work rather well.
It is up to us as a progressive political party in Britain to reach out to younger people, to offer a credible alternative. We need to listen to the concerns young people are facing and act; we must use it to change our party into becoming a party of the people. If we get reach out to younger people now, then there is a good chance they will join us on a journey back to power.
The protests on Thursday which left London a mess, and casualties on both sides (Students and Police) also witnessed one certain young man climbing onto the Cenotaph near Downing Street, holding onto the British Flag. That young man was Charlie Gilmour who is the son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. Charlie who is aged 21 and attends Cambridge University issued an apology in which he apologised and said he did not realise it was the cenotaph.
Surely his parents taught him basic manners and respect? I like most of the country was absolutely furious when I saw the picture of him climbing onto the sacred monument which is there for all of the service men and women killed fighting for this country. Those men and women gave their lives so that that despicable individual could walk free. I’m particularly furious because one ancestor of mine was killed aged just 18 in a war, 3 years younger than him! Not only was he involved in the cenotaph incident but pictures also show him as one of the people surrounding the car carrying HRH Prince Charles which was attacked.
I think he should go and help armed forces charities such as Help for Heros and the British Legion so that he can see and listen to just what it is our armed forces are doing. He has insulted a nation and is a national disgrace.
Could today be the day the Liberal Democrats die? Might sound daft but if Liberal Democrat MPs vote for the increase in tuition fees then it’s a possibility. Remember they campaigned and signed pledges at the general election to vote against any increase in tuition fees, in fact their policy was to abolish tuition fees. Fair enough with the economy how it is you can’t abolish the fees but you can prevent them from being raised. I’m flabbergasted that some students who are Liberal Democrat members think this policy is a good thing, how is it?! It is unfair that a university can charge up to £9000 a year for a course, it prevents poorer students in our society from going. I am ok as a student, I’ve missed this policy which comes into effect in 2012, but if my younger sister decided she wanted to go to University she’d be hit by this unfair policy.
At least not all Lib Dem MPs are going to break their promise to voters, Lib Dem President Tim Farron will vote against the rise as will former leaders Charlie Kennedy and Sir Ming Campbell. Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes said he will either abstain or vote against. Remember to abstain is a vote for the policy, Liberal Democrats need to remember why they were elected and why students supported them in May.
We’ve seen in the polls the Lib Dems hitting single figures, and let’s be clear here people in Britain do not have short memories, the Lib Dems will be obliterated come the next election, just look at local election results already, even up the road from where I live 7 Liberal Democrat Cllr’s have left the party in disgust including the leader of the council! It’s amazing what the Liberals are doing nationally, they honestly think they are doing this to get views heard, whilst most of the country thinks what a bunch of sell outs they are. Tens of thousands of student have marched and are marching at against this policy, does that not tell Nick Clegg that he has got it wrong?
Obviously and sadly we will have the Lib Dems until 2015 when there is a general election (if it’s not before) but today is the day they decide, do we want to die out or survive as a political party in British Politics. If Liberal Democrat MPs vote for this bill then I think we can honestly say
RIP Lib Dems 1988-2010.