Thousands of students will be converging on Westminster today to protest against tuition fees and cuts.
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) organised the event with other groups, and is part of three days of action across the country.
The UCL contingent will be meeting in the Quad at 11am, with the march beginning at Malet Place at 12pm.
Pi’s News team will be covering the demonstrations both here and on twitter. Head to @UCLPi_News for the latest updates, or stay tuned to this live blog that will be updating throughout the day.
Image credit: NCAFC
Right, that’s us done for the evening. A few protesters still remain either outside Buckingham Palace or back at Westminster. A good day for the campaign. It was mostly peaceful, had a great turnout and the speakers were a great help (when they could be heard).
Remember that there are two more days of action planned: a ‘day of action and walkouts’ on 3rd December, and on 6th December ‘marches for education in local areas’. More information can be found on the NCAFC website: http://anticuts.com/2014/11/19/build-a-movement-not-just-a-march-days-of-action-and-walkouts-in-december/
— αηιs (@theblogpirate) November 19, 2014
‘Where’s everyone going?’ One person asks. ‘No idea’ is the response.
Tamara is back at Parliament Square. ‘I think it’s over. People are just milling around and asking what’s going on.’
Got another contender.
Tamara: ‘Police are stopping more people from joining the protest’.
Tamara: Protesters are staging a sit in because someone was arrested.
Tamara: ‘The aftermath at Starbucks.’
Tamara: ‘All that’s left at BIS. The protests have moved on.’
Bennett: “No racist scapegoating at the byelection tomorrow”
Natalie Bennett has given a speech outside parliament: “Education should be free, it should be paid for by progressive taxation … We need to keep actively doing politics, let’s march and let’s make sure we all vote”
Meanwhile, outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
— Ben Jackson (@bjacksonuk) November 19, 2014
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) November 19, 2014
Lucas: “The reason the government doesn’t want you to have a free education is because they are scared of what you could do with that education”
Lucas: “I wish you could all see what I am seeing. It is beautiful.”
Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas has just run out of parliament to give a speech.
Abbot: “Anything I can do in parliament to support your fight I will. I’m in solidarity”
Now Diane Abbot is speaking.
A London living wage campaigner says “we should all unionise. Workers and students unite”
Tamara reports: ‘Ruben from an unnamed sixth form in South London managed to get over 500 students from sixth forms and colleges in South London. He spoke about the cuts made to colleges, such as the cuts to special needs education and to those whose English is not their first language’
Back at Westminster, the speeches are still going on.
A rep from NUS Black Students: “We have to organise, mobilise ourselves so that this movement turns into action not just a four hour demo … We must come out of the demo with something tangible”
Shelly Asquith, President of the University of the Arts Students Union: “This is not the last time we are taking to the streets. We will back.”
“We need to be fighting for all: citizens income, child benefit… These give students more opportunities rather than having to rely on zero hour contracts. This is just the beginning of the fight.”
Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party is now speaking to the crowd: “Our universities are running like a business rather than an institute for learning. I’m proud to be stood with you all and to say enough is enough. Education should be free for everyone. This is inter-generational robbery”
Shreya Paudel, NUS International Students Officer says “education should be free everywhere, especially in one of the richest countries”.
“This is not just a demo. We’re here for the long haul. We’re determined and we will keep going” an organiser says.
The protest has moved behind Westminster. Tamara Hopewell: ‘The stage is tiny, though. You can just about hear the speakers.’
Tamara Hopewell: Some of the march is heading away from Parliament. ‘It’s all gone very quiet just further down from Parliament Square.’
Tamara Hopewell: No evidence of large amounts of clashes between police and protesters. ‘From what I’ve seen, most of the protesters have been peaceful’.
Tamara Hopewell is at Parliament Square
Police presence has completely died down, according to Tamara Hopewell.
Exclusive: Comment from Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party:
“I’m in the middle of it but there’s such a great turn out that I think the government has to listen. The greens are fully behind the students!”
Tamara Hopewell: ‘On the home straight to parliament square. Morale is still high!’
Tamara Hopewell: ‘Lots of cheers from pedestrians, builders and motorists. The police presence has calmed down.’
We’ve found Natalie Bennett, leader of the Greens!
Precious Adesina: ‘Seeing quite a few policeman on motorcycles’. The police presence is getting heavier, she says. ‘More people seem to be making their way down too’.
My vote for best placard so far.
From Precious Adesina:
Tamara Hopewell: ‘Main chant up front is “what do we want? Free education, when do we want it? Now!… There’s some anti-Iraq stuff up as well as Free Palestine’.
Still seeing some great placards
Sam Fearnley is further down past the protest: ‘Relatively strong police presence down the Kingsway, near LSE and Kings actually’
Our reporters are telling us that the police presence is still quite low. One helicopter is circling the march.
Overheard at the march: “If I see a nice sushi place I might duck out.”
Tamara Hopewell: ‘Only two’ flares were let off.
Here is the contingent from Surrey:
Adam Saunders from the University of Surrey says: “We just need a system more like Germany or the Nordic countries – free”
Mary Newman: ‘Really middle class things overheard at the education rally: “What are they saying? I don’t want to shout too loudly.”‘
Sophie Armour: “I’m from the London young greens and we think education should be accessible for everyone. The current system is broken and doesn’t work”
‘The only way is free education’
Tamara Hopwell Barreda is in the action:
Amy McDermott from Stirling University: ‘I came down from Sterling last night. We stand in solidarity. It’s lucky for us to not pay tuition fees… Our chant is “Scotland has the right idea, cut the fees and have no fear”’
‘We are here, we are fierce, we are all Toni Pearce’ chant the students. That’s a new one.
The march has begun. Sam Fearnley: ‘There’s a lot of drumming and I think we are starting to move off now’
Even if you’re not protesting, hum these chants provided by the NCFAC while making a cup of tea and it’ll be as if you’re in the thick of it.
Education is a right, is a right, is a right
Education is a right
Not a privilege!
(To the tune of “London Bridge is falling down”)
Unemployment and inflation
Are not caused by immigration!
Bullshit – come off it!
The enemy is profit!
The demonstration has moved from UCL to Malet Street.
Speaking to the rabble, Raquel Vehlo, a second year PhD student at the Science and Technology Studies department, had this to say:
‘UCL is not a market place, it’s not a company, it’s a university. We will fight as long as there is something to fight for’
Here are UCLU’s women’s officer, BME officer and Welfare & International officer earlier on
Halls Accommodation Rep David Dahlborn is giving a rousing speech about the RENTS campaign, now.
Now teaching fellows are giving speeches in solidarity with the protestors.
Here’s what UCLU External Affairs and Campaigns Officer Omar Rai had to say on the NUS:
‘To me it seems that the withdrawal of support is indicative of a lack of a willingness to either support free education or to do anything to try and achieve it. The dozens of campuses that have been mobilising to come down to London feel let down but they will still be coming. The NUS could have done a lot more to support the demo and have sadly done very little.’
News editor Tamara says: ‘Everyone looks quite excited and chatty, but I think we will have to wait for more troops. There are currently about 100 or so people here.’
A first look at the turnout in the UCL quad:
Our comment editor, Beth Perkin, has created a petition on change.org. It currently has 1202 signatures.
It can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-abolish-tuition-fees