I am proud that I marched on 10th November 2010.  I was a part of the 52,000 students from across the country that showed how we stand in solidarity against the coalition government’s cuts.  People were angry.  Off course.  People did shout ‘Tory scum’.  F*ck the fees was written on placards.  The truth is the protest was not hijacked.  Most of the students that filled the foyer and the roof of Millbank were not anarchists, they distinguished themselves from those that were involved in violence and booed the idiot that threw the fire extinguisher off the roof.  But no matter how much the media has dictated the discourse of the protest by focusing on the broken windows at 30 Millbank, the main message is loud and clear: ‘No ifs.  No buts. No education cuts.’

There was gross sensationalism and misrepresentation from the media.  How many protestors were even aware with what was happening at Tory HQ (which, by the way, is owned by the Reuben brothers, prominent party donors whose fortune totals £5 billion)?   Images of students portrayed as violent ravenous orcs, that image of a masked man kicking at one of those glass plate windows and confronting policemen was constantly shown as breaking news on the 24 hour rolling news channels, and splashed on the covers of newspapers.  It was the issue of debate on every radio show.  The worst was on Newsnight, in which Paxman interviewed both Aaron Porter (President of NUS who condemned what had happened) and Claire Solomon (President of ULU, who had actually marched into Millbank) and focused completely on the ‘affirmative action’.  The next day the London Student sent out a poll asking students whether they agreed with the actions of Claire Solomon- it seemed as though this was becoming a witch hunt.  There was absolute outrage that Goldsmith’s congratulated students.  Students were being forced to align themselves in which camp they were in, the peaceful protestors or the violent ones.  This was all divisive, and shifted the focus away from the crux of the matter.

 

Emmeline Pankhurst said that, “There is something that governments care for more than human life and that is the security of property.”  The fact that no one is questioning how the government will smash up the future of so many is perhaps a reflection of this.  Yet, the boys of the Bullingdon Club are used to smashing up things and getting away with it.  What did we expect?

But, the fight is not over.  The NUS have not recoiled, but have launched the ‘Right to Recall’ campaign.  Despite Nick Clegg’s comments in his Hugo Young lecture on the 23rd November, ‘I know that more protests are planned by students tomorrow. I make just one request of those planning to protest: examine our proposals before taking to the streets. Listen and look before you march and shout’ – students still have the bottle to respond.