London and Manchester show student fight continues

Submitted by Matthew on 2 February, 2011 - 2:01

More than 5,000 students and workers protested in London on 29 January in a lively march that showed that the revolt which began in early November 2010 is far from over. Although the parliamentary votes to increase fees and abolish EMA and the Christmas break have led to an ebbing of the movement, 29 January represented a launch pad from which to rebuild.

A rally outside ULU featured labour movement speakers including AWL member Janine Booth, the London Transport region representative on the RMT Executive.

The march, called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, took protesters down Whitehall to Parliament Square, and then to Millbank. From there, defying police restrictions, a majority of the demonstrators marched to the Egyptian embassy to show solidarity with the democratic uprising. Small groups of protesters then dispersed to carry out smaller UK Uncut-style direct actions targeting high-street tax-dodgers such as Vodafone and Topshop.

A parallel march in Manchester mobilised around 3,000 people and was notable for the frosty reception given to sell-out NUS leader Aaron Porter.

On the initiative of AWL members from Hull Students Against Fees and Cuts, around 500 marchers demanded Porter justify his record. Rather than engage with them, he chose literally to run away and hid behind a cordon of riot police. Subsequent allegations that he was subject to anti-semitic abuse are, as far as AWL members present can tell, fabrications.

Shane Chowen, the NUS bureaucrat Porter appointed to replace him at the rally while he hid inside the Manchester Metropolitan SU building, was unable to finish his speech due to the amount of hostile chanting.

Following their abject failure to support their own members, and their de facto collusion with kettle and beating-happy police against activists, receptions of this kind are the least these scabs deserve.

• For more on the Aaron Porter incident see tinyurl.com/porterchased and tinyurl.com/portersmears.

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