Thousands of students took to the streets today as part of the national Day of Action, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts (NCAFC), with the backing of Education Activist Network and the Right to Work campaign.
What made today inspiring was the fact that over 100,000 young people, according to the NCAFC, protested across the country – without the backing of the National Union of Students. If this many people can organise without the NUS, it shows what a powerful thing this movement is becoming.
Over 100 Students in Truro Protest
The demonstration in Truro involved up to 150 students, marching over 2 miles in the pouring rain to County Hall to protest against the rise in fees. Not only was this organised locally and independently, these students left the warm and dry indoors to say ‘no’ to the coalition’s unfair proposals.
For a while the main road into Truro was blocked while we marched down, showing how large the numbers involved were considering the usually politically-complacent nature of Truro. With banners and placards, chants of ‘no ifs, no buts, no education cuts’ resounded around the city, and other cities nationwide.
Regional Unison officer Stuart Roden was well received, calling for students and workers to unite to stop the cuts. This was echoed by myself when I spoke, saying ‘we are all in this together, and we are the big society’ – just not the Big Society that the Tories envisioned in their misleading rhetoric.
Both the press and the police had a considerable presence, though the atmosphere was congenial. ITV, Sky News, the BBC and local newspapers interviewed the students and seemed impressed by the size of the demonstration.
We headed into the town centre to further spread the message, supported by members of the public with plenty of waving and horn-beeping.
Though perhaps overshadowed with the dubious reporting of one police van being trashed in London, press coverage was positive. Notwithstanding a BBC Cornwall presenter going around shouting ‘these cuts are necessary’, she did concede we were peaceful and ‘good natured’.
The protest came to an end at around 3pm, and being larger than the protest on the 10th, was a great success. Students are already preparing for the next demonstration outside County Hall at 8am on the 30th November, where we will be alongside trade unionists and Labour party members to oppose the council budget which will put thousands of workers in Cornwall out of their jobs and affect post-16 funding for transport.
Students in Falmouth also staged their own demonstration, with up to 80 of them making their resistance known. We offer our solidarity, and will be joining them on the 8th as part of a huge occupation of Falmouth moor. Full coverage of the event can be found here at the Falmouth Packet.
The anger of thousands of students in the UK was reflected in Rome, too, today, as hundreds there marched against education cuts. More info at Socialist Worker.