Student Leaders Refuse To Condemn While Unions In Danger Of Being Left Behind.
Following this mornings press conference by the students of the National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts, it is clear that those leading the defence against this coalition Governments attacks on public services, are not those we’d normally expect to answer the clarion call and ‘lead’ the fight back.
While trade union bosses were given the opportunity to address the protesters on Mallet St yesterday, it was clear very quickly that most assembled were less than keen to listen to ‘leaders’, and more eager to get to Parliament and make their voices heard. Perhaps the message given by said ‘bosses’ wasn’t quite up to scratch.
Student movements over the last decade or two certainly couldn’t be recognised to be ‘militant’, and the lack of leadership from both the NUS and the national trade union movement appears not to have been lost on many of these young people, who seem to have suddenly developed a political fervor and willingness to take on the full force of the state.
Many of us are shocked. Not because there were scenes of ‘violence’ on the streets of London, not because windows were smashed and graffiti was daubed across buildings in the ‘political elites front gardens’, or shocked because some posh couples car was covered with paint and ‘felt the indignity of receiving a broken window’, but shocked because the students we remember over the last twenty years were about as radical as a tin foil hat and a copy of Socialist Worker.
Much of this sudden rise of welcome militancy can only be attributed to one thing and that is the Trade Union movements inability to pull its head out of the sand and lead any kind of effective counter attack against the onslaught and oppression of both the previous two governments, and now the current coalition sham who are clearly trying to destroy the welfare state and return us to a society based on pre-war philanthropy.
While the media spouts it’s drivel about ‘violence to property’ and battles between student ‘thugs’ against the police or ‘infiltration by outside elements’, the student ‘leaders’ stand resolute refusing to condemn the protesters who fought back repeated attacks and intimidation by the Metropolitan Police and firmly declare their intention to carry on regardless of the vote in Parliament.
Meanwhile there is silence from the trade union movement. Not a whisper to declare the media rhetoric as being hideously biased, not a murmur to declare support for those on the front line fighting the government to save us from the Americanisation of British society.
The students want to unite and fight with organised labour, but organised labour it seems is in danger of producing nothing other than the re-hashing of songs of the great struggles of days gone by, or the occasional dragging out of ageing class warriors of the same distant struggles to decorate a podium to try and prove they are still up for the fight.
As of 1300 today, there is still not a trade union leader who has appeared on our screens to publicly support the student movement and condemn the police for trying to stifle the right to protest.
Off your knees TUC, you are in danger of being left behind and being consigned to the history books. There is a movement growing across Europe, and you’re likely going to miss the bus.
The best the TUC has been able to muster against the cuts is a national demonstration in March2011.
And that simply isn’t good enough.
Ruahri ó Cléirigh