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Students Enter Confrontation Over UK Austerity …

  • November 11th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

student-fees-uk.jpegReaction to radical budget-cutting in the United Kingdom started to get hot this week (10.11.10). with student protests in London over a blow-out of university fees becoming rough.

PROTEST GETS WILD

Some 50000 students and university staff members paraded in Westminster, before a large rump, several thousand strong, besieged a building that houses the headquarters of  the governing Conservative Party.

Hundreds pushed to get in, glass windows were broken, fires were lit in the forecourt, and groups of protestors appeared on balconies and on the roof.

See video, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11726822

Police caught off guard sustained minor casualties in the melee, before bringing in reinforcements and making more than 30 arrests.

CRITICISM OF GOVERNMENT MOVES

National student representatives said they did not back the occupation or the violence, but condemned the Conservative Party, and especially its coalition partner in government, the Liberal Democrats.

They said the junior coalition member had opposed an attack on fees, during this year’s election campaign, and they attacked the scope of the rises, generally a trebling, on average up from  appx. A$5000 to $14000 p.a.

They’ve also condemned the biasing of changes, with steeper increases for humanities and other fields less industry-orientated.

The Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, told parliament the cuts were a “fair and progressive solution” to a difficult problem

See video, http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9170000/9170862.stm

AUSTERITY DRIVES

Last month the government announced its scheme to relieve debt, which had expanded as a cost of stimulus measures used during the 2008 recession — foreshadowing redundancies for 500000 public sector employees over four years.

The Labour Party Opposition which has supported budget reductions, but on a lesser scale, called the universities move a betrayal.

Months of large street demonstrations, sometimes degenerating into drawn-out battles with police,  have followed the imposition of austerity budgets in other European countries especially in France, Greece and Spain.

Students still with the means to study comparative political cultures might learn that neither violent confrontation, nor radical acts of government that bring it on, are customary for a Shire of the Realm.

See also, EUAustralia Online, “London, Paris: Tale of two austerity drives”, 22.10.10.

Reference

Angela Harrison, “Violence at Tory HQ overshadows student fees protest”, BBC News, London, 10.11.10. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11726822, (11.11.10).

BBC Mobile, London, “Clegg defends plan to raise university tuition fees”, 10.11.10. http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9170000/9170862.stm, (11.11.10).

Picture  BBC

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