Monthly Archives: February 2011

Snippet from Notts Uncut at Natwest

Police: You can’t protest because it’s private property and you’re disrupting people’s day.
Protesters: Natwest is owned by RBS, RBS is 84% owned by the public, so that technically means it’s public property. We’re not obstructing people’s use of the bank, we’re just stressing the point of high bankers’ bonuses after bankers have published losses in the past financial year and public services are being cut.
Police: Oh. Fair enough.

More to come!

Media of Willetts

Protesters standing outside with a banner reading "dumb and dumber: Cameron and Clegg" Protesters with banner with security in yellow hi-vis jackets Protesters holding the banner and security standing outside in the dark Protesters outside in the dark with a banner reading "cut carbon, not education" Security in yellow hi-vis jackets standing in front of protesters and blocking them from view

We also have video of David Willetts explaining the progressive nature of the raised tuition fees:

Here’s a quick and dirty transcript of the video:

Willetts: women on average earn less than men which is
Protester: yeah…what’re we…what’re…let’s cut that
Willetts: let’s just stick on that point for one moment. As er women earn less than men, and as these changes are actually quite progressive in that people earning less than £21,000 do not pay back at all, the evaluations show that it is men who are going to pay back more than women. Men are in the c… I mean in some ways it’s a bad reflection on the distribution of earning in our society, but there’ll be a lot of women who during their working lives never have to pay back
Protester: oh, great
Willetts: it’ll only be written off because they will never be in the [indistinct] they can pay off
Protester: I disagree
Protester: but don’t you think it’s stupid
Protester: I feel like I don’t… I want to be a social worker… I’m training to be a social worker and if I don’t become a social worker I don’t have to pay it back but so that’s brilliant for me maybe I won’t have to pay it back
Willetts: no
Protester: but [indistinct] lost out – society don’t get a social worker then
Willetts: but that’s what makes this so progressive, just like if you’re in jobs you pay

Good to see we’ve got that one cleared up.

Nottingham Students Confront Universities Minister over Cuts and Fees

A group of approximately 40 students from local universities and colleges confronted Universities Minister David Willetts MP outside the annual Lord Dearing conference on “The Globalization of Higher Education” held at Nottingham University. After trying to present the minister with a set of proposals from students about alternatives to the cuts that had been drawn on a banner, a number of the group engaged him in argument about the cuts to Higher Education and the fees being raised in universities across the country.

When confronted by female students with the charge that the cuts will hit Women the hardest, Willetts tried to argue the cuts were “progressive”. He claimed that women were less likely to have to pay back student loans, because they would be less likely to earn over the £21,000 threshold for repayment, heard to acknowledge that; “a lot of women will never earn enough to pay back their loans”. The students then politely suggested that the minister acquire a dictionary to familiarize himself with the term “progressive”. Willetts beat a retreat from the debate, at which point students took to shouting chants about ConDem policy and chased his car until it was out of view.

Students had hoped to gain entrance to the conference, but a £95 per ticket charge meant that it was inaccessible to most. Had they been able to afford entry, they would have been treated to a substantial buffet, as well as speeches from representatives of companies such as BP and Vice-Chancellors from the most privileged universities around the world. While we were unable to attend, it is clear from the list of speakers that few, if any, serious alternatives to the privatization of higher education were on offer from the speakers.

Amongst the requests made by students were calls for free education funded by the wealthiest 10%, the restoration of funding to the Humanities, and an end to corporatization of campuses.

We are not prepared to sit around and wait while expensive knife-sharpening conferences happen at our expense. We will not negotiate the terms on which we are pushed into an abyss of debt. The time for asking ministers nicely to not cut our futures is over. The time has come to create an opening for a truly progressive and democratic alternative.

Recent stuff by NSAFC

Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts has had a busy week, along with many thousands of UKUncutters, protesters, trade unionists and demonstrators. NSAFC people were at both the London and Manchester demonstrations on the 29th Jan, at the Notts Uncut protest on the 30th and at the Victoria Centre’s Student Shopping Night on the 1st Feb.

Just to make our reports from these events easy to find, I’ve collected them here. This post will be updated as more gets posted up.

Manchester demo
London demo
Report on Notts UKUncut action from Notts TUC
NottsSOS report on Notts UKUncut action and Oxford Street demo in London
NSAFC at Student Shopping Night, Victoria Centre, Nottingham
Another report from Student Shopping Night

Another report from the Student Shopping Night

Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts spent the evening of the 1st February attempting to raise awareness of the links between tax avoidance and cuts to education. On a busy night in the Victoria Centre, which had been organised and advertised as a special ‘late-night student shopping spree,’ roughly fifteen people targeted tax-avoiding Topshop by handing out subverted Topshop flyers within the store, which made explicit the link between cuts to education and tax avoidance. A game of cat and mouse around the store ensued in which security tried to pick out the young protestors from the student shoppers and remove them from the Victoria Centre. Having all been marched off the premises and with security blocking the entrances, the group managed to sneak back in through an unguarded entrance to distribute their remaining leaflets. As each protestor was forcibly removed once again, the fuss caused by security gave us far more attention from student shoppers and all the leaflets were distributed. We have to thank security and the police for finding our presence so problematic that they had to remove us, it definitely increased interest in the cause!

London demo 29th January

Students, workers and people of Nottingham took to the streets of London to stand in opposition and defiance to the cuts threatening our society. The atmosphere was quite different to the last protests; it was more optimistic, with a samba band and boom boxes providing music, Hare Krishnas providing food and even protesters wheeling a trolley of medical supplies. There was a real community spirit and as the protest was on a Saturday there were a lot more workers and families.

We marched the usual route from the University of London union, past the Houses of Parliament and then down towards Milibank. All the windows of the official buildings had been boarded up, so I guess they are getting more worried and more prepared. At Millibank there was an attempt to break the lines of polices that were blocking it off; however after a while of this the general concensus was to go to the Eygptian embassy and show solidarity with Eygptians as they fight the dictatorship in their country and to urge our politicians to call for Mubarak to step down. The protest split into lots of sections and took different routes to try to reduce the likelihood of kettling. The walk to the Eygptian embassy was probably one of the most exciting parts of the protest, with lots of cheers and honks from people in their cars as we walked through the more residential streets. It was really nice to get so much support from people and to see how much that support has grown since the first protest last November. We were not able to get right outside the Eygptian embassy as the road to it was blocked off; however people stayed in the area. While 1000s were outside the Eygptian embassy another group had taken the protest to the streets of London, running to prevent being kettled and temporarily taking over strategic areas such as Oxford Circus.

All in all, it was a good day, which ultimately showed the power we have, not only to fight these cuts and this government but to build and create better alternatives.

Manchester Demo 29th January

Thousands of unemployed young people, students, trades unionists and service users protested on Saturday in Manchester against fees, cuts and youth unemployment. Initially a lacklustre event, the day was enlivened by spontaneous action by a large contingent of the protesters.

The march was carried out in good spirits, despite the officially agreed route taking in none of the busy central areas of the city. Once, however, the march concluded at the agreed rally point (a large park away from the city centre), the frustration began to become evident. This frustration focussed on the low profile, on speeches that tended to repeat the problem, rather than advocate action, and on the lack of representation among the speakers for young people and the unemployed. The central point of contention, however, was the failure of the NUS to support students taking action that day in London, or to recognise that the groundswell among students is for radical action, not capitulation – not simply to register displeasure, but to fight and win. Aaron Porter (NUS President) was repeatedly called for to face the crowd, but failed to appear.

Eventually, with chants of ‘stop talking, start walking’, the vast majority of the rallied protesters (representing a broad cross section of the assembled groups) left and began an impromptu march through the genuinely public areas of Manchester. This new march had an optimistic, festival mood and progressed noisily and peaceably until repeatedly kettled and manhandled by police without provocation. In many areas protesters were able to break through kettles and the action continued for several hours.

In the end, the day was a forcible show of the thirst for action and determination of those engaged in fighting the government’s ideological and inexcusable cuts to our public services. It is clear, however, that union’s national bureaucracies need to become radicalised along with their members, following their clear call for action now. What is even more evident is that Aaron Porter’s position has now become untenable and that he needs to step down to make room for a leadership that stands with its members, rather than attempting to stifle them.

The students, workers and people united will not be defeated or silenced.