Although it’s good to see the NUS taking a lead here and not giving up like Porter did after the 2010 vote, I can’t help but agree with the points made by the student interviewed in the short piece in the Guardian.
Conrad Landin, a second-year English student at Cambridge University, said he planned to attend despite being kettled in Whitehall during one of the 2010 protests, when he was a sixth-former. He said: “It was one of the scariest experiences of my life, it felt like being in prison – it was so unjustified because there had been very little disorder before that point.
“It was only after people were imprisoned in a very small place that people started clashing with the police. People started fires to keep warm at zero temperatures. There was no food, water or toilets. It wasn’t just students there – there were elderly people, disabled people, young children who weren’t being allowed out. It seemed very immoral, inhumane treatment.”
Landin said he was principally protesting against tuition fees and for the return of the EMA, adding that marchers were not all backing the NUS’s official line. He said: “Motivating people to come out is difficult because of the resistance we’re still seeing from the NUS. They’ve got this slogan, Educate, Employ, Empower, which is the most vacuous thing I’ve ever heard. We’re not going to make a case for the value of education and supporting vulnerable young people unless we have some clear demands.”
Yes, there needs to be some clear demands! Some lessons from the Canadian protests are needed.
The march route is also ineffective. The NCAFC march through the City last time was a much better idea in terms of impact. A bigger number of students taking that route would have worked well. But let’s see how this one goes…
Read piece in the Guardian