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Will 2011 be 1968?

2011 – A year of mass struggle and revolutions
By Simon Hardy, of Revolution Socialist Youth group and the National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts. February 2011.

It is only February and already this year has seen mass protests and revolutionary movements bring down governments, defying dictators and the armed thugs that protect them. 2011 could be ‘one of those years’ like 1968 where the whole world seems to erupt in resistance to capitalism and oppression.

So why is it happening?
It all comes from class, the growing divide between the rich who run society and those of us who work, contributing our labour to create the bosses profit. In times of bounty when capitalism is booming the profits are privatised into the hands of the elite and powerful. The rest of us make do with the scraps. But when times go bad the losses are socialised, are forced upon us, rammed down our throats whilst the bankocracy bay for blood.

Everywhere the growth of inequality is apparent; it is a consistent and constant trend, the natural result of the market system that exercises such a dictatorship over all of us.

But people resist. They resist because they have to. And these acts of resistance are our response to their system, to the horrors that they inflict upon us. We fight back against the chronic problems, the poverty and the dictatorships. But we fight against the acute crisis, the recession, the cuts, the job losses and the lies of the capitalists.

The class nature of these attacks is clear – the people in power want the rich to get richer. They see it as a social good. It is part of their system – part of how they see the world and its workings that the poor must be made to suffer. They see us simply as the raw material for exploitation, not as people but as units, as objects, as parts of a machine that exists only to make them profit.

The movements that have emerged in many countries in Europe are a result of the massive austerity measures. The welfare state is under serious attack as the bankocracy and the captains of industry that run the economy and pull the strings demand that the cost of the recession be passed onto the working and middle classes. The struggles so far have won some small victories and slowed down a few of the measures but have been unable to stop the government and capitalists’ attacks. The reason for these must be debated and understood, which is why the Revolution Socialist Youth group does not shy away from criticising those who claim to lead the movement but who invariably lead it to defeat.

Yet the mood to resist has not gone away, and Europe will see more movements and strikes in the coming months. But protests and strikes can also emerge around defensive issues to do with workers rights as the recent events in Wisconsin prove. As part of an emergency budget Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has not only slashed public spending and cut jobs but has also scrapped collective bargaining for the state’s public sector employees. All of this is happening in a country where millions more Americans are on food stamps because their wages aren’t enough to feed their families.

“All dictators will fall”
Today all eyes are on the revolutions happening in the east. In North Africa and the Middle East millions of people live in conditions, which span across borders and across generations.

People suffering a lack of choice, unemployment, humiliation and a lack of dignity live in such conditions precisely because the western world lives in relative luxury. The imperialist nations suck the third world dry of resources, keeping most of the spoils in the hands of the ruling classes. This leaves the countries often under developed and unable to improve their economies substantially. There is little or no welfare, yet chronic structural unemployment. Low wages are the norm as multinationals encroach into the territories, demanding cheap labour and loose labour laws. Privatisation strips the nation of its infrastructure, the market commodifies everything and nothing is safe from the expansion and demands of capital to accumulate and control.

The conditions of life make the people restless, angry, they want change. But the capitalists can’t give it to them, not without threatening their own profits. The west sends some aid for food and other things, together with patronising charity from those with money to burn. But mostly we send aid in the form of guns and tanks.

Egypt gets $1.3billion a year. Bahrain, the poorest of the gulf coast states, gets $19.5 million a year; Yemen is given $35 million. Israel receives £3 billion, in order to police the Palestinians and act as the gendarme for imperialism in the region.

The imperialists take their futures and give them tyrannies. This is the injustice of the world we live in today – it is all transparent, it is all above board. It is signed, stamped and approved by a hundred governments. Every major world institution shapes this process and approves of the final result.

Half of the Middle East and North African population is under the age of 24. They are largely educated, but with no prospects for careers. Some try and go to the west to find work and to send money home, but the west is closing its borders tighter every year. Mohammed Bouazizi, the 23 year old graduate who burnt himself to death in Tunisia, launched the movement which toppled President Ben Ali. Bouazizi had no job, he was selling food on the street to try and make some money. He was a victim of imperialism’s brutality, and his despair drove him to suicide. How many others felt like him?

The chronic problems are compounded by the acute crisis of the world recession. But now all the discontent is connected through the new technologies. In countries that exercise strict censorship over the print media, the social media websites play a crucial role in networking, exchanging ideas, and creating the conditions for civil debate and mobilisation.

Bloggers: The new revolutionary pamphleteers
The blogosphere is the modern equivalent of the revolutionary pamphleteers of the European and American revolutions. Bloggers are the critical moles, burrowing away under the regime, spreading dissent, and daring to free their speech. They are brave, and can face imprisonment or worse. Navid Mohebbi – an 18 year old – was arrested, imprisoned and beaten for blogging on women’s rights in Iran. Kareem Suleiman in Egypt was imprisoned for 4 years for criticising Mubarak. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

But as the US journalist Thomas L Friedman said, referring to the Iranian Green movement in 2009, “Bang bang beats tweet tweet.” The power and might of the state cannot be overcome through Facebook or Twitter. Material force must be overthrown by material force – and only a movement involving millions can truly challenge the power of these military and religious dictatorships. That is what we have seen emerge in Tunisia and Egypt, the revolutions are in full flow, they have won important victories but there is still more work to do.

And the victories won so far in Egypt have given hope to millions across the region that they too can fight and win. The spread of these movements, their pace, their shared tactics and messages all stem from the shared conditions that people live under, whether they are Arabs or Persians, Muslims or Christians, on the gulf coast or in North Africa.

Every dictator trembles with fear at the thought that the protests will come to their country, bring down their regimes, and force them into exile. Everywhere they talk of security, they claim the protesters are not patriots, they mumble darkly about ‘outside forces’. This chatter cannot hide what is really happening. Revolutions are happening. This is not being conducted by the US or EU, in fact it is happening against their will. The Iranian regime will laugh at the downfall of a US stooge like Mubarak and praise the people in Tahier Square, but they will mercilessly try and destroy anything similar happening in their
own country.

The year 2011 will be a year of mass resistance and protest. It will shake the world and change it forever. Everything depends not on the capacity of the masses to struggle and sacrifice, that much has been proven already. It depends on whether a political party and programme can be developed which channels the energy and determination into a conscious assault on the very social relations which give rise to the crisis of the east and the west.

For a Fifth International
The importance of a Fifth international of workers and youth is demonstrated now more than ever. We must unite those in struggle and fight for workers power across the globe, based around a common programme and perspective. Everywhere the working class must be brought into the fight, must come to the head of the movement. This is not the idle dream of Trotskyists; it is the urgent task of today for billions. It is the difference between a world of barbarism, or one which is finally free from misery and oppression.

For more articles like these go to Revolution Socialist Youth web site: http://www.socialistrevolution.org
March with the Revolution Socialist Youth group on the March 26th  TUC demonstration.
Save Our Services in Surrey have arranged coaches to the demonstration, subsidised by Surrey Unison. Coaches are leaving from Guildford, Woking, Redhill, and Staines. Tickets are only £2.00 Rtn. You can buy a ticket on-line at www.saveourservic.es using a secure Paypal. -Or- Email:guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk
http://www.socialistrevolution.org/26march/

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Aaron Porter – This Is Your Life!

What a month it was for Aaron Porter, NUS President. The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford looks back at the lows and lows of a Tory low-life and bids farewell.

On the 29th January, Aaron Porter was invited to speak at the closing rally of the NUS/UCU “A Future that Works” demonstration in Manchester. As protesters gathered at the starting point on Oxford Road, about thirty activists from Hull and Leeds Universities accosted Porter and demanded that he justify his record. Instead of engaging with the students, Porter turned and hurried off. In true Benny Hill style, he found himself being followed by a growing number of demonstrators. Within a couple of minutes he was literally being chased through the streets of Manchester by almost half of those who had gathered for the march – perhaps about five hundred people – with chants including “Students, workers, hear us shout, Aaron Porter sold us out” and “Porter – out”. Eventually he took refuge in Manchester Metropolitan Union, protected by a heavy cordon of riot police.

Aaron Porter is escorted in to the Manchester Met University, pursued by 500 protesters

Unsurprisingly, Porter did not turn up to speak at the closing rally. NUS Vice-President and Further Education officer, Shane Chowan spoke in Porter’s place. He was drowned out by hostile chanting and pelted with eggs and was unable to finish his speech. Most of the speakers were heckled repeatedly.

After the rally, about a thousand students marched back into the city center. They were met by a huge and violent police presence, and were kettled in central Manchester’s Deangate.

The following day, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that during Porter’s pursuit through the streets of Manchester, he was subjected to racial taunts and chanting. The Mail’s article was titled: “Student leader faces barrage of anti-Jewish abuse at rally as protesters accuse him of being a Tory.”

When activists contacted the two newspapers, The Mail claimed a photographer was the sole source of their story but refused to name him. The Telegraph said there were only two sources for their story, a PA photographer, and the NUS itself. The NUS official who heard the chants, is “believed to be an aide to Porter”, an NUS Press Officer said: “We cannot allow you to speak to the person directly. There is an ongoing police investigation into the allegations, and we feel it is not appropriate to discuss the matter.”

In an email to NUS members printed in the Financial Times, Porter said; “Just before the march started, I was surrounded by a particularly vicious minority of protesters more intent on shouting threatening and racist abuse at me rather than focusing on the issues.”  On January 30th, He sent a tweet that read: “I Will not back down to intimidation, and certainly not to racial abuse”, and in a Times article on January 31st he wrote of the protest: “However, before I was able to speak to the rally of thousands, a small group of people started to chant abuse to try to intimidate me, and there were audible anti-Semitic comments.”

Porter later admitted that he had not himself heard any racial abuse “The NUS had only confirmed the story when journalists contacted them for a comment”. In a statement through the NUS Press Office, Porter said: “I was not certain what was said by those shouting abuse at me, however I was informed by others present that amongst other things anti-Semitic comments were made. I have not made a specific complaint to the police as I did not clearly hear the contents of the chants myself.”

Allegations of racist chanting or abuse have been strongly denied and contemptuously shrugged off as a highly cynical attempt to salvage a sinking political career.

Two YouTube videos have emerged since the protest. One shows the moments before Porter was escorted into the Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union. Another substantially longer one, which is largely uncut, shows most of the protest. At no point are there anti-Semitic chants, nor chants of “no to racism,” which was reported in the Telegraph article but not in the Mail.

There was a BBC reporter outside Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union where Porter was taken. The BBC news reports made no mention of anti-Semitic chants.

Like the WMDs in Iraq, this looks like noxious New Labour spin. May be the weapons will turn up and video evidence of racial abuse will be made available, but I doubt it. Although no eyewitnesses have come forward to corroborate the Mail or Telegraph‘s claims, several have come forward to say that they heard no racist abuse.

A member of the Campaign Against Fees and Cuts said on their website: “We were at the front of the crowd which chased Porter, and thus would have heard any racist chants – let alone a “barrage”! We were also in possession of two of the four megaphones involved”.

Josie Hooker, a student at the University of Manchester was about 15 metres away from Porter for the majority of the march. She also claimed not to have heard anti-Semitic chants or the chants of “no to racism”. “At no point did I hear anti-Semitic abuse and at no point did I hear anyone shout ‘no to racism,’” she said. “Due to my position on the march, I believe that if a 20 strong group of people were shouting ‘no to racism’ in response to anti-Semitic or racist abuse, myself or one of the 15-20 odd friends and acquaintances present in various positions among the protesters would have heard it.”

She also suggested that the photographer who heard the chant “Tory Jew Scum” simply miss-heard “you’re a fucking Tory too,” which was chanted throughout the protest.

Peter Campbell, a medical student from Newcastle, also claimed to have heard no racial abuse. Referring to the “Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too” chant, he said: “It is a chant of disgust at a man who has repeatedly set back the student movement. It is certainly not pleasant, it’s not meant to be. However, it is not anti-Semitic.”

Chris Marks, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, when asked if there were any anti-Semitic chants said: “Absolutely and categorically not. I was at the front of the group which instigated the protest. If there had been anti-Semitic chants we would have heard and challenged it. Anything shouted was jovial.”

Porter, kettled in Glasgow cries for the police

On the 12th February, Porter was in need of police protection again, when he was chased through the streets of Glasgow. As he left the Labour Students Conference at Glasgow University, where he had been speaking, he encountered a group of student activists. Occupiers from Glasgow University, who are battling against cuts on their campus.

The protesters crowded around the entrance as he left. In the words of one protester: “Having been sacrificed to us by his Labour bosses, so they could clear the door of the clearly terrifying mob, Aaron was kettled by us. Much screaming of “I don’t expect to be filmed!” and “I don’t want to be hit!” followed – nobody was hitting him, in fact he broke someone’s camera.- until he did a total comedy run away”. Showing uncharacteristic swift and decisive action, Porter immediately dived between one of the protesters’ legs and fled. Porter was forced into hiding somewhere on the Glasgow University campus. Even the Labour Club didn’t know where he was hiding. It’s an indictment of the disgraceful policies of the NUS leadership when even the Labour Students and Young Labour delegates appeared, to say the least, unconcerned about Porter’s wereabouts.

Porter’s recent betrayals began when he condemned the occupation of Millbank, whilst keeping silent about the much more extreme police violence. Secondly he flip-flopped, saying he had been “spineless”. He announced support for student occupations and promised he would obtain legal aid for occupiers which he didn’t do. Then he voted against NUS support for an anti-fees demo, instead choosing to back a useless “candelit vigil”.

The Daily Telegraph reported on 8th December that they have seen emails from Porter to the Government, leaked by his close associates. Trying to persuade ministers at the Department for Business to enact their planned 15 per cent cut in higher education funding without lifting the cap on fees. The NUS leadership urged ministers to cut grants and loans as an alternative to raising tuition fees. Aaron was ready to call for cuts of up to £800 million in grants behind the back of students.

In one email to the Department for Business, dated Oct 1, Porter suggested that £800 million should be “deducted from the grants pot” over four years. That would cut total spending on grants by 61 per cent. Porter also proposed the “introduction of a real rate of interest” for student loans.

In an email the following day, Graeme Wise, an NUS political officer, urged ministers seeking cuts to start with the “student support” package of grants and loans. Graeme Wise also suggested that the cuts in support could be imposed on students currently at university.The NUS’ plans also called for 2.4 billion to be cut from the universities’ teaching budget over four years, a reduction of 48 per cent.

The NUS have also been calling on NUS officers at different universities not to oppose hikes in fees, describing them as “relatively progressive” – completely at odds with what they said publicly. Another leaked memo told NUS officers to “engage” with university leaders rather than campaign for lower fees.

In response, the President of Cambridge University Students’ Union, Rahul Mansigani, said: “It is disappointing that anyone views as progressive a scheme that students up and down the country have campaigned against”.

Porter has been universally condemned by both students and NUS officers as a “sell-out”, a Tory and a careerist. He has been accused of giving into the government without a fight; spending more time condemning student protesters than arguing against the tuition fee rise; and more concerned with ingratiating himself with politicians than standing up for students

When newly elected, last summer he said in a Guardian interview, he would “define success as ensuring that a market in fees does not emerge”. Failure, he said, “would be a real market in fees coupled with cuts from the government”.

The Guardian interviewed him again on the 28th February and asked him, How then can you possibly claim to have been a success? His responses were almost delusional: “I still believe we’ve run a successful high-profile campaign. A disastrous campaign would be one that made no impact whatsoever. This made an indelible imprint in the public’s consciousness and in the political landscape. Did we get what we wanted? No, we didn’t. Would I have signed up to the proposals for trebled tuition fees? Not in a million years. But I think it would be wrong of me to say that this was not a successful campaign. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say the coalition was under real pressure.”

The VOAG would argue that the campaign’s impact was achieved not by the NUS, but by the occupations and by the protesters, condemned by Porter, who invaded Millbank Tower back in November. Had students not organised outside the NUS structures, and had they not stormed Millbank; had 50,000 students simply marched peacefully through London, tuition fees would not have developed into the high-profile issue it has become.

Many Liberal Democrat candidates signed an NUS pledge before the election that they would vote against any fee increase. The breaking of this pledge by the Lib Dem leadership became a focus for Porter. Porter declared to the guardian  “Committing them to oppose any rise in tuition fees was a master-stroke”. The journalist replied: “Well it would have been a master stroke, I agree, if the Lib Dems had felt bound by it – but in the event they just tore it up”.

“I still think that it was a remarkable campaign tactic”, said Porter. “Because the pledge meant that one of the parties could not run away from it”. “It was the most effective campaign of 2010”.

“But they did run away from it”, replied the journalist, “didn’t they”? “They did,” he conceded, without missing a beat. “The preferred outcome from the pledge would’ve been that the Liberal Democrats stuck to it – but they didn’t.”

On the 21st February, Porter announced he would not be standing for re-election in the Student Union elections in April. Porter said that the campaign over fees is “moving into a different landscape” and the union needs a new president.

In an email to members, Porter wrote: “So this new regime brings with it a new landscape, and I believe the NUS needs reinvigorating to enter into the next phase of this campaign. After considerable soul-searching, I believe there needs to be a new President to lead the student movement into that next phase. As a result, I’ve resolved not to seek re-election at the National Conference this year”.

This is only the second time in over 40 years that an NUS President has not run for a second year in office. In a guardian interview following his announcement, Porter maintained he would be certain to win the presidency if he chose to stand. “Oh, without a doubt”. He predicted the NUS will elect a successor very much in his “image” – and said his tenure “had been a terrific success”.

Regarding the student protests, he told the Guardian, “I cannot see, on the issue of tuition fees, how illegal protest is helpful.” “Well tuition fees, whilst I disagree with them, are not the biggest evil in society. It is not the worst decision that the Labour government made to introduce them, and it is not the worst decision this coalition has made to increase them.”

He concluded his Guardian interview with: “For me the question is about what next year would’ve been like. And I think that the NUS, and also me personally, need to be able to draw a line under the tuition fee debate, and I suspected that my continuation as NUS president would’ve inhibited us to move on from the tuition fee issue”.

Aaron Porter then, leaves us with a sigh of resignation for the inevitable. ‘We lost, now lets move on’.  The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford also gives a sigh, a sigh of utter contempt. What a waste of space.

There’s nothing inevitable about the education cuts, fee rises, or the implementation of the Bologna process and the marketisation of education. There is everything to play for. Education is only one area of the public sector that is under attach from the ConDem government. Workers And Students Unite is not an empty slogan,  together we can stop all cuts. There is an alternative, but we must first see the end of this government.The TUC National demonstration on the 26th March is the first step and a spring-board to develop anti-cuts groups in every town, college and university in Britain.There are coaches subsidised by Surrey Unison leaving from Staines, Woking, Guildford and Redhill. Everybody is welcome. Tickets are only £2.00 Rtn. You can buy a ticket on-line at http://www.saveourservic.es or email:guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

The Fire Brigades Union is warning that cuts to the fire and rescue service will put lives at risk, after a spate of high-profile house fires. The union advises the public to “get out and stay out” in the event of a fire and to call professional fire-fighters to tackle any blaze.

However the union is warning that cuts will worsen the service. Government figures show that average response times to house fires have slowed over the last decade from 5.5 minutes to 7.3 minutes.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “Every second counts when there’s a fire. Our job as fire-fighters is to rescue people and we aim to get to every incident as quickly as we can.

“But the public should know that cutting fire-fighter jobs, fewer fire engines and other cuts will delay our intervention. The planned cuts to the service will cost lives if they go ahead. They must be stopped. The FBU wants fire services and councils across the UK to follow the example of the Scottish government and investigate how to improve response times to house fires”.

Here in Surrey, the council is preparing to cut the fire service by 25%. Many stations will loose their night time cover. Others will see a reduction in fire engines and redundancies are planned across the board.

For example Conservative Council is shutting Staines fire station from 7pm to 7am every night, leaving Staines without night fire cover.

Residents and anti-cuts activists will be converging on Staines fire station at Falcon Drive, Stanwell, to protest against the cuts.

The protest is supported by Save Our Services in Surrey, Guildford Against Fees And Cuts, Staines Labour Party, local unions and of course The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford- as well as many others.

Your support will be very much appreciated. Yet again, Tory cuts are taking priority over people and in this case human rights. But together we can reverse the cuts.

So please try and make it to Staines if you can.  Saturday, February 26 · 11:00am – 2:00pm

DETAILS:
Assemble on the green in Falcon Drive for 11:00am
Protest down Flacon drive and turn right into Claire Road.
Protest down to Town Lane and take a left towards Staines fire station to hear talks from the unions and the labour party.

Speakers from:
-FBU
-GMB
-UNISON
-Save Our Services In Surrey
-The Labour Party

Please join the Facebook events page for more details and to show your support. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=103785973033803

Please don’t forget about the TUC National demonstration against the cuts in London, March 26th. There is subsidised coach travel leaving Staines, Guildford, Woking and Redhill. Just £2.00 Rtn. All are welcome. See Facebook event for details:  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=103785973033803#!/event.php?eid=178381258861986

To buy a coach ticket on line visit www.saveourservic.es
Or email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

 

Public Meeting: Introduction To The Cuts

21st, October 2010
Last night saw the official launch meeting of the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance at the Royal Holloway University, Egham, Surrey. It was a fantastic meeting with over a hundred and fifty people in attendance.

So many meetings of this kind never go beyond phrasemongary, “Tories are bad, they eat your kids and kill your parents” etc. But every speaker was interesting and engaging. Each speaker brought a wealth of knowledge and loads of facts and figures.

The speakers spoke about the cuts from a variety of perspectives but all made the point that the fight against cuts in education and the rise in fees must be linked to the resistance to the wider public sector cuts.

The meeting heard speakers from Save Our Services in Surrey, UCU, BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts), The Student Union’s Women’s and Equality Officer, a member from the NUS National Executive and Ben Robinson from Youth Fight For Jobs.

Chris Leary from Save Our Services in Surrey gave an informative talk about what the cuts meant for the people in Surrey. Whilst Surrey is an affluent county said Chris, “there were many pockets of poverty”. According to the government’s survey of Boroughs, the Surrey Borough of Elmbridge was the ablest in the country to cope with the cuts. Runneymede, another Surrey borough came seventh. However Spelthorne came seventieth in the table. “There are 30,000 people working for Surrey County Council (SCC), many on low incomes, so not everyone in Surrey conforms to the stockbroker commuting stereotype” said Chris.  

“There was a move by SCC, earlier this year to force all secondary schools into a federation of academies thus divesting itself of all responsibility for secondary education. There was such resistance that the Council was forced to back down, but immediately approached the primary schools with the same proposal. Academies do worse in league tables”, Chris told the packed meeting. “They don’t even generate extra income”.     

Chris spoke of other cuts planned by the Council. “With regards to young people, the SCC has published the target of achieving zero needs for sixteen to eighteen year-olds, which means all young people will be in work or education. However the council is reducing the grant it gives to the private company that runs the Connections careers and counselling service. It is going to close twenty centres, leaving only Camberley and Epsom to service the entire county. We have already witnessed a reduction in social workers and their admin support”, Chris added.

“The council also plans to slash the grant it awards bus companies to provide non-profitable bus services. It has also announced it will scrap all of its education welfare officers”.

“The council is talking of scrapping its present library service and replacing it with mobile libraries that may only visit once every fortnight. SCC also plans to shut down its youth services, closing youth centres, some of which were  only opened two or three years ago”.

“These cuts are just a few of those announced following the Council’s Spending Review and come before the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review announced a couple of days ago”. “The government announced an unprecedented 20% reduction in revenues for local councils which will further devastate communities and local services”. Chris concluded that we need to link education issues with wider service cuts and build a coalition of resistance of students, workers and service users.

Next to speak was Duska Rosenberg, Royal Holloway Professor of Information and Communications Management and UCU member. She told the meeting that “whilst all other countries are investing in education, the UK is slashing budgets and predicted some Universities may close”. “This can only harm the future prosperity of the country”, she told the audience.

Professor Rosenberg spoke about the government’s plan to ring fence STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects whilst cutting funding for the arts and social sciences. As a professor whose discipline bridges the physical and social sciences, she told the meeting how the arts earn money for the economy.

“However it’s not just about economic growth, there’s also an issue of intellectual growth and education for its own sake. We need a government that respects this.

One cannot divide technology from social sciences”, she continued. “One needs to know how technological advances affect society”.

“A recent government think tank reported that the UK needs more graduates to compete in a knowledge economy, so each University needs to be preserved. However, it’s not just about academic staff, there are also thousands of administration and support jobs at stake. They are indispensible to Universities. It’s about all of us”.

A BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts) spokesperson addressed the meeting. He called the cuts disgusting. “According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies these cuts are the greatest since the World War Two”. The cuts, he said “will devastate all communities, but black people will be disproportionately effected. Black people already suffer from greater levels of unemployment. Black people die younger, and more black people go to prison than go to university”.

“Studies have proved that in times of recession racism increases and we can already see this dynamic taking shape in the way that asylum seekers are being scapegoated in the media. 80% of public sector workers are black and for the most part work in lower paid support jobs; these are the very jobs that are being targeted for cuts”.

He concluded that students have a proud tradition of anti-racism and urged all students to emulate the French and fight against the cuts. He finished with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “A society is judged by the way it treats its poor”.

We heard from the Student Union’s Equality and Diversity Officer that women will also be disproportionately affected by the cuts. “According to studies, 60% of students who are lone parents are considering giving up their studies due to the hike in tuition fees. Women already take longer to pay back their student loans.  Domestic violence services are also going to be cut, along with homophobic and HIV services”.

Ben Robinson from Youth Fight For Jobs also spoke from the platform. “The Education Maintenance Grant will be scrapped”, he told us. He said “the government has announced plans to cut a half million public sector jobs, but have not mentioned that it will have a knock on effect of creating another half million unemployed on top of this. Already there are 2.5 million people chasing a half million jobs. One quarter of all young people are unemployed, and for young black people it’s a half”.

“Presently, anyone under 25, cannot get housing benefit for their own home, they are limited to renting a room. The government’s spending review has raised this to 35 years. This means a loss of privacy, space and independence for claimants until they are 35 years old”.

“The government is only making cuts because they can get away with it”, said Ben. “The banks, still largely publically owned, have paid 15 billion pounds in bonuses this year. The richest UK banks are paying the lowest corporation tax in Europe”.

The last speaker to address the meeting was Sean, the NUS National Executive Mature Students officer. He told the meeting that the Browne Report meant that poorer students would receive a second class education because they will not be able to afford the higher fees charged by the leading Universities.

“The government’s emphasis on STEM subjects will mean only the richer Universities charging higher fees will be running Social Science courses. These will be unaffordable to most students, so that in future it will be the students from richer backgrounds taking the lead in politics and the media in later life.

The Tories, he told us “are finishing Thatcher’s job, marketising education and the NHS and attacking housing benefits, which are due to be capped at 30%  below the average cost of accommodation. “The UK’s structural debt stands at £100 billion whilst the richest thousand UK citizens have £80billion of personal wealth.

So, he concluded, “Lets all get to the demo on 10th November and demand No Cuts And No Fees, and take this message to the Coalition Of Resistance conference on 23rd November. And LETS GET FRENCH!!!!”
Statement of the Coalition Of Resistance
Royal Holloway University Anti Cuts Alliance
Save Our Services in Surrey
Join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts on Facebook
Botom-Of-Post - Protest