500 students joined a walkout and demonstration in Hereford today.
Hundreds gathered at the Folly Lane colleges and marched down Aylestone Hill into high town, to chants of ‘No Ifs, No Buts, No Education Cuts!’ Many people honked horns or clapped in support of the demonstrating students. The walkout and protest was part of a national day of action against the rise in University fees and harsh cuts to education.
About 20-30 people also joined a march from the Job Centre, against benefit cuts. This went through High Town and joined students at the Town Hall, who had headed there from High Town to hand over a petition.
There was a heavy police presence, which was rather humourless; an obvious prank ‘two man invasion of the Town Hall’ (which was doomed to fail) was soon put to an end – with a banner being grabbed and confiscated, and the two people being threatened with arrest!
Unfortunately the march didn’t go beyond an uncreative ‘A to B’ march and petition. The truth is that a petition that is supposedly going to be handed to central government will achieve very little – it will be thrown straight in the recycling bin and not seen again. After the march came to a standstill many students were also walking around asking, ‘Well what are we doing next?’ and ‘Why don’t we march somewhere else?’
A sit-down protest, or an occupation of a building such as the Town Hall, instead of just a speech from the bench outside, may have offered a more effective and lasting method of protest. At this stage we cannot rule out any tactic, and we need to be prepared to use whatever works to stop the ConDem’s attacks on the working class.
There is a growing mood of resistance sweeping the country, and today was just one manifestation of this. Over a hundred thousand people took part in demonstrations across the country; the largest in London, but also in places such as Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Brighton and dozens of other towns and cities.University occupations are currently happening in many places, from Essex to Leeds and Oxford to Warwick.
This needs to be continued and extended, as it is a struggle that concerns us all, and not just the students.Workers, the disabled, the elderly and benefit claimants, as well as the students, need to be brought into the fight and need to step up resistance – mass demonstrations, pickets, occupations and strikes – whatever it takes to get our message across and to stop the cuts!
It’s going to be a long winter, but it’s already heating up.