"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Opinion: Student Movement On The Rise

By George Deacon


Mr Murphy, Tory leader of Norfolk County Council, stood in front of BBC’s Look East Camera’s and said he welcomed the lobby by students from Norwich City College against cuts to their travel subsidy.

Suggesting that perhaps a deal had been struck or that in fact the Tory’s never intended to go through with the cuts (now listening) Mr Murphy beamed into the camera and was seen shaking the hand of deputy leader of City College Student Union (Tom Hollick). What neither the benevolent figure of Mr Murphy nor the presenter of BBC Look East mentioned was that the ‘riot police’ were laying in wait in the City Hall Car Park.

It appears then that the political classes who regularly draw a stipend from the County coffers were happy to spend vital moneys from the public purse in barracking the local constabulary, kitted out in the latest riot gear and equipment, rather than pay the travel costs of working class students currently studying at Norwich City College. Further, happy to stand as he was in front of the cameras of the BBC, Mr Murphy had in fact prepared a rude awakening for the skulls of the young men and women, forced as they were, to line up in a field in front of County Hall. Such then is the scant regard Mr Murphy and his class hold for the sons and daughters of working class men and women of Norfolk. Not to be out done in this cynical act, neither Norfolk Constabulary nor the BBC itself have, it appears, any conscience over the role they are being asked to play by colluding with the political class at County Hall, by first being present and then failing to make known what had been prepared.

Rather than congratulate ourselves and the students who were on that march yesterday, for a job well done, we should cast a wary eye over what was narrowly avoided. The real story yesterday was that the Tory’s had prepared for all eventualities and were prepared to use the ‘riot police’ against innocent young people legitimately lobbying their local County Council.

If the ‘riot police’ had been used against these defenceless students what would Mr Murphy, the Norfolk Constabulary and the BBC be saying today? Instead of what they should be doing today, condemning the Tory leader of Norfolk County Council for cynically attempting to use a lobby of 16-18 year olds in a cheap publicity stunt for political advantage they would no doubt be crying crocodile tears for the death of a working class son or daughter who happened to have placed their head in front of a fully equipped mature adult wielding a truncheon.

We should reflect on this for one reason and one reason alone. Whatever sops the political classes come up with, as they nakedly jostle to buy popular support, one thing is clear: In the changed world of 2010 the Tory party are determined to carry through the most vicious attack on the living standards of the working class by any means necessary and that includes breaking the skulls of young innocent sons and daughters of Norfolk.

Yesterdays events at County Hall was a wake up call – if one was needed. The time for argument has passed and now is the time to act. The unions must call for united industrial action that is linked to a call for a general strike. The TUC has called a national demonstration for March 2011 (23rd) but for many workers faced with cuts in jobs and services that will be to late. We need action now. The students have shown the way and are in the front line but they must not be left to stand there alone. Wherever the students march the unions must march too. When the students take action and occupy workplaces and public spaces then we must join them and support them too.

Cambridge students recently ended an 11 day occupation of Cambridge University and the Guildhall facing down not only the cowardly condemnation by the local Libdem MP (Huppert) but also an attempted siege by the police. They did this by linking their fight against tuition fees with that of the fight of the lecturers and academics. They also linked their struggle with the wider fight in society against the cuts. Without this support and approach the occupation could not have last 11 hours let alone 11days. In taking direct action the students acted like a lighting rod, drawing to it, the anger that exists in society while laying the basis for future action that will be better organised and more effective than before.

We have lessons to learn and we must learn them quick. Above all we must not fight alone nor must we underestimate our enemy and their determination to carry through theses attacks.

Unite and fight and drive this government from office now!


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