Things will only get worse as the Conservatives cut yet more services.
The public sector needs to fight back
There was once a Conservative tradition that honoured public service – no more. When David Cameron talks of endless austerity in the service of creating a smaller state, no longer instrumentally to reduce the deficit but as a matter of belief, he speaks for the new centre of gravity in his party. If you run a school, local authority, prison, hospital or police force, the Conservatives are your sworn enemy. It is not just that they cut your current and capital spending by a degree unknown for a century, they do so with relish. You are the obstacles to wealth creation and freedom, who crowd out the virtuous private sector: you are the representatives of bureaucracy and the state. You are held in contempt.
Many of the readers of this column may think it can’t get worse: the cumulative cuts in capital and current spending already constitute around £25bn. Much of the strain in many parts of the public sector has been taken by wages and salaries in effect being frozen along with more than 300,000 job losses, although in areas like local government or policing, where the assault has been more draconian, services have had to be scaled back. But you ain’t seen nothing yet.
A new wave of college occupations has brought suspensions, arrests and allegations of police violence. Three years on from the tuition fee protests, why are students still angry?
It’s a cold and impossibly wet Thursday afternoon in Bloomsbury, central London, and not for the first time, it’s all kicking off. A pack of policeminibuses has just sped into Russell Square, and scores of Met personnel are now spilling on to the streets. Behind the gates of theUniversity of London‘s administrative offices, other officers wield metal batons, sporadically lashing out at a crowd of student protesters who have marched here from nearby Malet Street. Within minutes, the line along which the students and police face off has been established, and a succession of chants fills the air: “Cops out! Students in! … Whose streets? Our streets! … You killed Mark Duggan!”
Such is the spectacle that has erupted around a Cops Off Campus demonstration, organised anonymously via tumblr. After a torrential downpour and an ad hoc occupation of the westbound side of Marylebone Road at the peak of rush hour, the centre of events soon shifts to Gower Street, and the entrance to Euston Square tube station. Close by, 20 or so protesters have apparently been kettled. A police helicopter thrums overhead. Every few minutes, there is a flash of renewed confrontation. “We just want to say we don’t want cops on our campus,” one student tells me. “But the police want a fight.”
By davideast – 05/12/2013
Yesterday evening, large numbers of police violently ejected protesters from Senate House, making 8 arrests, including 2 SOAS students. The protesters’ demands included meeting staff demands for fair pay rises and improved working conditions, preventing the closure of ULU, and publicly opposing the sell-off of student debt. University management obtained a legal injunction against protest on the campus area. The belongings of protesters were confiscated and some still have not been returned.
SOAS Students’ Union vehemently condemns the actions of the Metropolitan Police in this incident. They have acted without legal justification and with the brutal force that we as students have seen far too much of in the past few years. The University of London management has once again displayed its eagerness to stifle dissent and criminalise peaceful protest. With the reaction to this occupation, we seem to have finally reached the point where student protest is effectively illegal.
We call on university management to explain its actions on December 4th.
A police presence has remained in the Bloomsbury area today. During a protest against police on campus, students were chased toward Euston Square station where they were indiscriminately kettled. A number of SOAS staff and students were arrested en masse with no apparent basis, as well as members of the general public, press, and legal observers. Footage has emerged of a number of incidents of police brutality. Those arrested have been taken to police stations far outside of central London. We continue to be disgusted by the excessive actions of the Metropolitan Police.
If you have any concerns, eyewitness statements or footage of police misconduct please contact David East (email@example.com), Leah Edwards (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Georgie Robinson (email@example.com).
We will hold an open meeting on this subject next Tuesday in the JCR at 5pm.
SOAS Students’ Union Executive Committee
The Pathology of the Rich – Chris Hedges on Reality Asserts Itself pt1
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig , spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
Big thanks to Robert Livingstone for his excellent pictures
Amy Winehouse sings “Free Nelson Mandela” at the 46664 Concert in London in 2008. Her album “Back to Black” made Winehouse the first British singer to win five Grammys. The 46664 concerts are a series of AIDS charity events played in honour of Nelson Mandela by South African musicians. Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1964, and was the 466th prisoner to arrive that year. “Free Nelson Mandela” is a song written by Jerry Dammers and performed by his Coventry-based band The Special A.K.A. released on the single Nelson Mandela / Break Down The Door in 1984 as a protest against the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. Unlike most protest songs, the track is upbeat and celebratory, drawing on musical influences from South Africa. The song reached No.9 in the UK charts and was immensely popular in Africa.
Dr. Patrick Treacy was part of the “Free Nelson Mandela” campaign and worked in South Africa as a doctor after Nelson Mandela was freed. The video shows the badge he wore.