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London students: Anarchists hijacked their demo

Thousands of British students protested rising tuition fees on Wednesday. The University Post has some first-hand accounts

52,000 people took to the streets of London on 10 November to protest rising tuition fees. Once the broken glass and egg yolk had settled outside the Conservative Party’s headquarters in London, the University Post got a couple of British students on the phone.

Read about the protests here.

»I am cross and upset about the idea that people won’t be able to go to university because of their financial situation. With the cap raised it will cease to be an opportunity for everyone, and become a system reserved for the elite,« says Francesca Duncan, a 20-year old student of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Warwick.

Emily Wright, a second year student of English and Italian Literature, also made the trip to London to join in the demonstration:

»I understand that cuts are necessary. The economy is in a bad state, but Higher Education has been unfairly singled out,« she says.

Students were not responsible for the violence

»Everything started off peacefully,« says Emily Wright, »but when we got to Millbank, a group of young looking people – not looking quite old enough to have started university yet – wrapped scarves around their heads and started kicking the windows in.«

As the demonstration made its way past the Houses of Parliament, Francesca Duncan was passed a leaflet that read »Follow the flags at the end of the demo to take a real stand against the cuts«. Thinking it ominous, she didn’t follow the flags, but as they reached Millbank Tower, a banner was set on fire and people started shouting.

The National Union of Students have condemned the actions calling them »rogue protestors that undermined the message of 50,000«.

»I don’t think they were students at all, but anarchists who hijacked the demonstration to promote their own political views.« says Francesca Duncan.

So will the demonstration have an effect?

»It’s difficult to say – a million people marched against the Iraq War, so it’s hard to believe that the government will listen,« says Francesca Duncan, »But I’d like to think that the [governing coalition partner..ed] Liberal Democrats will understand the people that voted for them really feel betrayed.«

Emily Wright feels the same way, referring to the pledge the Liberal Democrats signed during the general election, promising not to raise tuition fees:

»The Lib Dems have let us down. They were voted in under the false pretence that they would keep the cap on tuition fees.«

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