December 9th day of action against cuts and fees

Middlesex University.

Tens of thousands of school and university students will walk out of class again today another national day of action against cuts and tuition fees.

Protests have seen demonstrations across the country with occupations at universities, council buildings and political party offices across the UK. More action is predicted to happen as a result of today's day of action.

Reports of police violence and attempted 'kettling' are not expected to put off protesters. Students will likely be joined by others also affected by the austerity measures such as members of the RMT, who are thought to be having a block on the student demonstration on Parliament.

We will update this page regularly as the day develops. Please post local reports in the comments below.

- The day of action on the 9th has had a long run up, with several universities such as Leeds and UCL going into their second or third week of occupation, and new occupations starting at several universities including Goldsmiths. This was also the first time that schools began occupations, with a 24 hour sit-in/teach-in at Camden School for Girls, and another one at Acland Burghley in Camden - mixed reports about what actually happened since the school was apparently closed for the afternoon, but occupiers went in anyway. We have an unconfirmed report of a sit-in at Stoke Newington school, Londonist reported that Islington Sixth Form college was closed all day Wednesday after management heard about student plans for an occupation in advance.

- 12:20pm Several thousand congregating around ULU and Trafalgar Square. Over 1,000 police on duty. 'Rolling kettle forming at ULU, 70 TSG in front' According to @ucloccupation

- 12:30pm Debate starts in parliament, early day motions all ignored by the speaker, so the vote is on in about 5 hours. Hopefully the almost inevitable yes vote may be just the start of the anti cuts movement.

- 12:35pm @directreaction: Police try to stop LSE and Kings students marching over Waterloo bridge. Many break through. Situation already very tense.

- 12:40pm Police have blocked the march at Malet Street according to @ucloccupation

- 12:49pm UCL Occupation has started a live map of the protests with particular attention to police deployments.

- 12:52pm Several people on twitter describe being 'kettled by socialists giving speeches', sounds about right for the Labour left and SWP, let them go!

- 13:13pm @PennyRed "Omg the kids just charged through the line. I can see police beating kids."

- 13:15pm First sighting in the UK of Italian-style literary riot shields http://lsjsn.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/polestyrene-books-13-00.jpg

- 13:25pm @ncloccupation 20 protesters stormed meeting with Newcastle Vice Chancellor.

- 13:26pm - Parliament Square sealed off.

- 13:34pm - Guardian reports that "three protesters have just been ejected from the public gallery in the Commons because they were chanting slogans."

- 13:45pm - LSJSN blog post this youtube video from Trafalgar Square:

- 13:50pm London protest reaches Parliament square.

- 14:23pm Protesters kettled in parliament square, which had previously been declared off limits. Six horses arrived in one corner, fences are being pushed against, six lines deep of riot police behind.[/b]

- 14:35 BBC helicopter shows three metal barriers being carried over the heads of protesters towards police lines.

- 14:45pm People blocking traffic on Vauxhall bridge.

- 14:54 Line of students has formed a human shield to prevent mounted police entering parliament square.

- 14:59 Newcastle Occupation has published photos from the protest there - lots of people, lots of mounted police.

- 15:03 Photo of fences being torn down at parliament square within the past hour.
- 15:33 Police hitting protesters with batons, someone in a wheelchair dragged behind police lines, @PennryRed reports that one of the Guardian's journalists was "beaten bloody" with a baton. Lots of paint thrown at the police. Around Holborn several students with large books trying to push back police lines.

- 15:38pm Horse charge outside Westminster Abbey - caught on BBC News 24.

- 16:30pm Wheelchair user dragged from wheelchair (and then to the ground according to the Guardian) by the police - http://twitpic.com/3ed5tq

- 16:56pm Very large bonfire lit in Parliament square.

- 17:42pm Vote passed, 21 majority.

- 18:09pm What looks like a baton charge by 30-odd police in parliament square visible on the BBC helicopter footage, no mention of it at all in the commentary.

Posted By

Ed
Dec 9 2010 10:00

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bastarx
Dec 10 2010 20:46
Samotnaf wrote:
There's a complete TV and radio blackout here in France about what's been happening in England over the last 4 weeks, including yesterday. Millbank was mentioned once, a month ago when it happened - but silence since. Is it the same in other countries?

It led the evening news on one government station here last night and was second on the other. They both spent more time on Charles and Camilla than anything else. If Australia hadn't so far escaped the worst of the crisis they might be less likely to show resistance to it.

mikail firtinaci
Dec 10 2010 21:53

In turkey there is a total silence even in the so-called democratic-lefty media. Even some stalinists don't even mention what is going on in england. For a person who does not follow anything except the turkish channels, papers, sites, it is as if everything is quite in the western european front of the class battle...

Awesome Dude
Dec 10 2010 21:58

From the Guardian

Quote:
Violent thugs? I am a 21-year-old literature student and I am a protester. I danced to music on Parliament Square as people spray painted NO on the grass, I shouted 'tory **** tory ****' with pride, I got pushed to the police front line and charged by horses on two occasions (please see footage of charges on 24th and 9th). I am not ashamed.

If you want to look at thugs then look to to the police.

I am a girl of five foot two, I was pushed several times in the face, dragged on the floor and laughed at by police when I told them I had asthma. This is why people get angry, because people were being trapped and wanted to get out.

All afternoon we were told people were able to leave from various places but this was just not true.

I asked a policeman were I could go to the toilet; he pointed at the floor by his feet.

Another shouted: "Move, bitch, or I'll squash you with my horse."

Eventually, when the protests had died down and people were desperate to go home, a group of around 1,000 protesters were finally escorted to Westminster Bridge to exit; however this was a trick. What then happened was we were held on the bridge for hours in the freezing cold. The crowd remained calm, but after hours of freezing people began to chant "let us out" and then the crowd pushed forwards. Being small I was carried by the crowd and ended up by the police line. I was tired and cold and hadn't eaten for 12 hours or had any water.

I screamed at the police not to hurt me because I was being pushed but they still went for my face, almost pulling me to the floor. A man to my right put his arms over my face, screaming, "Leave her alone, she's a girl, she's not harming you," but the police began to hit him several times on the head.

When we were finally let off the bridge it was one at a time through huge crowds of jeering officers. We were told we were being photographed in case we had damaged royal car. But how this could have happened whilst we were kettled in parliament i don't know.

What I will say is that by this stage the anarchists had fought their way out, and just lots of women and children were left to freeze.

If it's true anarchists (I'm assuming mostly male) fought their way out and left others to freeze, it paints a sad picture for us. Especially as we are most experienced with police tactics and know whats it's like being lock in those pens.

rodeo jones
Dec 10 2010 22:00

there's no mention of this here in the US whatsoever, with the exception of the attack on the prince's car. this gets me really excited though. if britain has this kind of potential, it makes me less pessimistic about the united states

Awesome Dude
Dec 10 2010 22:07
Auto wrote:
So... what now?

It's gonna be a long wait until the trade unions do their A to B's around parliament in march/april. We're going to have to defend the 'legitimacy' of direct action in the face of an extremely hostile media. We need to keep the spirit going until then. We already have a network of sorts (autonomous students network) that, IMO, we are going to have rely on to intervein in the struggles on campus and inside networks like NCAFAC against the Trots and their superior organisation. But ASN needs to be more fully substantiated and their are several proposals afoot to rebuilt local university 'anarchist' groups.

Wellclose Square
Dec 10 2010 22:11
dinosavros
Dec 10 2010 22:23
rooieravotr wrote:
As to Samotsaf's question on coverage in other copuntries: in the Netherlands the big action days got coverage, yesterday as well. Most of the attention goes to the 'violence' - the protestors' violence, that is; the scandalous police operations barely get mentioned. Today, the attack on Charles' and Camilla's car got quite a lot of attention,

Exactly the same for Greek media

Sidney Huffman
Dec 10 2010 23:16

what is absolutely boiling my piss is the complete lack of action by the unions (i know there have been isolated incidents from individuals and I saw the rmt banner on the news).

Speaking as an old fart I'm GUTTED that the unions have still not done anything to support the youth and i think they should be out there with them now not in march or april. Does anyone know how a campaign could be started to pressurise the unions to get into fucking gear now? i haven't got a clue how you'd do something like that but if anyone has any ideas i'll give it a go.

These kids are out there getting fucking battered by the cops and even attacked by fascist thugs siding with the police? for fuck's sake the wider society should be there following the kids' lead and standing with them.

Baderneiro Miseravel
Dec 10 2010 23:47

The media in Brasil mostly noted the attack on Prince Charles and that there were "violent student protests due to raise in university fees". At least people know it's going on because of that, though.

Steven.
Dec 11 2010 00:20

Black rainbow - you can't take what that person in the Guardian says about "anarchists" fighting their way out of the kettle. That person probably took the media definition of "anarchists" as being people in masks. Most of the people in masks fighting the police and destroying property were kids.

Regardless, you can't criticise people for fighting their way out of a kettle, just because not everyone managed to get out!

krink, I don't think you should expect much from "the unions" supporting this. The lecturers union, UCU, has supported these demonstrations. But elsewhere the unions have been happy to leave struggles separate. The NUJ at the BBC, the firefighters and RMT have all fought alone. Unison is doing its best to do nothing at all, and leave everything down to individual local branches.

I think that public sector pensions will be the biggest issue for public sector workers, which could lead to some sort of joint action. But I think the government will try to hope this student stuff dies out before it comes after our pensions. And the unions will probably be okay with this (not just through evil motivations, but also because people are scared for their jobs, so they are not going to just walk out on wildcat strikes in support of other people's issues, when most are too scared and demoralised to even strike for themselves).

Awesome Dude
Dec 11 2010 00:38
krink wrote:
Speaking as an old fart I'm GUTTED that the unions have still not done anything to support the youth and i think they should be out there with them now not in march or april. Does anyone know how a campaign could be started to pressurise the unions to get into fucking gear now? i haven't got a clue how you'd do something like that but if anyone has any ideas i'll give it a go.

In a way that's the biggest challenge we face. How to dislodge the trade union aristocracies grip over 'organised' workers. If we do, it might take the workers movement in a refeshing new direction. An interesting observation is how the NUS leadership (embodied in Aaron Porter) have temporarily lost control of the direction in which the radicalised elements in the student movement choose to demonstrate. It could be that a considerable section of a pissed off rank and file union membership turn to militant tactics and in the face of condemnation and crackdowns from the leadership break away from the leadership and manage to take working class opinion with them...things could get very exciting next year.

Quaramorph
Dec 11 2010 01:32

Just got this message from someone, don't really know how to respond:

"Getting accidentally caught up in it all (whoops), I was really terrified - of the students, not the police. If the police had to resort to heavy handed tactics, it's a shame that the minority of peaceful protesters had to be subjected to it. But from what I could see, most of the people there seemed quite keen to cause a riot with very little regard for innocent bystanders."

Awesome Dude
Dec 11 2010 01:51
Quaramorph wrote:
Just got this message from someone, don't really know how to respond:

"Getting accidentally caught up in it all (whoops), I was really terrified - of the students, not the police. If the police had to resort to heavy handed tactics, it's a shame that the minority of peaceful protesters had to be subjected to it. But from what I could see, most of the people there seemed quite keen to cause a riot with very little regard for innocent bystanders."

Judging from the last few demos this one was likely to end up in some sort of violence. What did she/he expect?...this is not a riot?

rooieravotr
Dec 11 2010 03:11
blackrainbow wrote:
Quaramorph wrote:
Just got this message from someone, don't really know how to respond:

"Getting accidentally caught up in it all (whoops), I was really terrified - of the students, not the police. If the police had to resort to heavy handed tactics, it's a shame that the minority of peaceful protesters had to be subjected to it. But from what I could see, most of the people there seemed quite keen to cause a riot with very little regard for innocent bystanders."

Judging from the last few demos this one was likely to end up in some sort of violence. What did she/he expect?...this is not a riot?

The strength of what seems to be happening is thast all kind of totally new people begin moving. They often do NOT know what to expect. I don't mean to say that experienced demonstrators are somehow 'to blame'. But I remember the day I caught my first whiff of tear gas. I was on my own, and felt a little bit like the person of the quoted message. Yes, I grew over that: )Experience, but also co-demonstreators taking care of each other - and friendly explanation and support afterwards if things go wrong, do help. The attitude 'what did he/ she expect' is, while logical, not sufficient. We all had a 'first time'...

Steven.
Dec 11 2010 12:17
Quaramorph wrote:
Just got this message from someone, don't really know how to respond:

"Getting accidentally caught up in it all (whoops), I was really terrified - of the students, not the police. If the police had to resort to heavy handed tactics, it's a shame that the minority of peaceful protesters had to be subjected to it. But from what I could see, most of the people there seemed quite keen to cause a riot with very little regard for innocent bystanders."

Firstly I would respond by saying that if people are kettled in freezing temperatures for hours, they are going to get angry.

Secondly, if people really had no regard for innocent bystanders, I would ask how many demonstrators were hospitalised by police? (49 at last count I believe) and how many innocent bystanders by demonstrators? (Zero, nor any reports of any even being hurt in the slightest)

Caiman del Barrio
Dec 11 2010 14:01
blackrainbow wrote:
If it's true anarchists (I'm assuming mostly male) fought their way out and left others to freeze, it paints a sad picture for us. Especially as we are most experienced with police tactics and know whats it's like being lock in those pens.

Nice assumptions - I'm gonna guess you weren't there. I also question the logic of us hanging around to offer Kettle Solution Consultancy to the ignorant plebs. On a further point, I'd like to highlight that the anarchist movement spent 10 years struggling against kettles, only for the students to crack them in 3 weeks. Moreover, I'd estimate that I saw maybe 7-8,000 people masked up in the kettle, most of whom having no tangible link to the anarchist inertia.

I got out around 3.30pm cos I have a worsening leg injury from a previous demo.

Mike Harman
Dec 11 2010 14:32

Is it me or is this demo the first time that the media have started noticing that most of the militancy is from working class kids rather than anarchists (or even 'anarchists') - there's Paul Mason's "banlieue" article, then "feral youth" everywhere else, and then Cameron's comments that "There were quite a number of people who clearly were there wanting to pursue violence and destroy property,"". I'm not really sure where that's going though, obviously nowhere good.

Mike Harman
Dec 11 2010 15:04

Just seen this - http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/12/470057.html - Network X gathering, 15th/16th January.

Mike Harman
Dec 11 2010 15:33

Video from Glasgow. (edit, no link and I can't find it now, will put it back in later if I see it again, sorry).

Mark.
Dec 11 2010 17:22
Incubus
Dec 11 2010 18:30
Quote:
Speaking as an old fart I'm GUTTED that the unions have still not done anything to support the youth and i think they should be out there with them now not in march or april. Does anyone know how a campaign could be started to pressurise the unions to get into fucking gear now? i haven't got a clue how you'd do something like that but if anyone has any ideas i'll give it a go.

I was under the impression that both the NCAFC and Coaltion of Resistance had tried to put pressure on the TUC, one of them had a demo outside the parasitical scabs HQ too....

Incubus
Dec 11 2010 19:01

AARON PORTER IS THE SON OF A COP!- Ha-ha.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Porter

Incubus
Dec 11 2010 19:04

Auto
Dec 11 2010 19:27

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179218858770566

NCAFC is calling a protest on the 20th of December.

A bit too close to Christmas?

Mark.
Dec 11 2010 19:27

From a Guardian profile of Aaron Porter back in June:

Smart suit, shiny shoes … meet the new NUS president leading the battle against fees

Quote:
Aaron Porter, 25, has just moved back in with his parents in Norbury, south London, after graduating in English literature from the University of Leicester. Not quite the profile you might expect of a man who, as the new president of the National Union of Students, is about to lead one of the fiercest political battles in a generation.

[…]

Porter might be living with his parents – a policeman who grew up in London and a teacher from Trinidad – but by day his job is as high-powered as they come. Dressed in a smart dark suit, striped shirt, red tie and shiny black shoes, he is due to go from this interview with the Observer to a one-on-one meeting with Lord Browne.

[…]

Porter remembers 2004, when he was 19 and the decision was being taken to increase fees from their original level of £1,000 a year. At that time the NUS stuck to a position opposing all tuition fees, calling instead for the reinstatement of grants.

But, he argues, the argument had already been lost and the time had come to move on. "There came a point when the debate was no longer 'should there be fees or not?', but 'how do we fund higher education?' Rather than sitting at the table, we were standing outside shouting. We weren't taken seriously: we were left out in the cold."

It was his predecessor, Wes Streeting, who fought to change the NUS from the inside, dropping its opposition to contributions from students. Instead, the organisation came up with an alternative – a graduate tax, which would see students face a slightly increased rate of income tax over their careers. It was a fight to get the union to accept it and now Porter is determined to maintain the policy. "There are some that think we should stick to the principled position of free education. But if vice-chancellors expect us to stand on the outside waving placards they are sorely mistaken."

[…]

As for the Conservatives, he talks of a "constructive" relationship with Willetts in opposition. "He surprised us, a Tory minister, and I hope we surprised him as a national union."

Indeed, the politician has been full of praise for the NUS. When in opposition Willetts said the transformation of the union and its new way of fighting was "the most powerful single way of making sure that politicians listen".

[...]

Ed
Dec 11 2010 19:42

What an utter ballbag.. roll eyes

Incubus
Dec 11 2010 19:42
Quote:
Indeed, the politician has been full of praise for the NUS.

...Indeed, the guy is such a dweeb, reminds me of Will in the 'Inbetweeners', shiny black shoes and all...

Talking of coppers, check out this pigblog to see what the thugs in blue thought of the Glorious 9th-

http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/simon-hardy-student-violence-was-self-defence/#comments

Incubus
Dec 11 2010 19:49
Quote:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179218858770566

NCAFC is calling a protest on the 20th of December.

A bit too close to Christmas?

Not too sure about this, it appears to be just one guy on Facebook, withno orgs backing him/it...but then again, that might be a good thing-

The Times today was quoting the Met as wanting to carry out pre-emptive arrests, and to use water-cannon next time round...Thought the Met had always frowned on the water-cannon option, but in terms of a graduated violent state response, they don't want to skip to baton rounds and CS/CN...

Auto
Dec 11 2010 20:02

You're right... nothing on the NCAFC website. But the strange thing about the situation we're in is that I feel *any* callout could go viral and actually take place - even if it's just started by the one guy.

I think we're dealing with some social forces that haven't been come to the fore in this country for a long time...

Wellclose Square
Dec 11 2010 20:12
Auto wrote:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179218858770566

NCAFC is calling a protest on the 20th of December.

A bit too close to Christmas?

See one of the posters on that page is calling for a blockade of oil refineries and citing the militancy of the miners.