spending cuts

Last Wednesday 100,000 students marched in protest all over the country with absolutely no encouragement from the NUS or any of the usual “student leaders”. That’s AMAZING. I helped to organise the Manchester demo, and we printed out leaflets for 800 – 5000 people turned up to march from every university and college in Manchester to the town hall (via Castlefields, as it turned out). But get this: three hours later, despite the best efforts of the police, 3000 people were still marching back down from the town hall to occupy a university building. Five hours later, 800 were still blocking the road outside MRI when the police charged us with horses (that number by a police sergeant’s reckoning). 800 people were the *remnant* of the demo.

It took nearly 8 hours from the beginning of We Will March Manchester for the police to finally disperse everyone: in the meantime we had blocked Oxford Road for most of that time, held demonstrations outside Castlefields, the town hall, University Place, the John Owens building and MRI, and been attacked by the police three times. For at least six hours of it, everything that happened was largely spontaneous, unplanned, and fuelled by pure anger. No-one, not unions, exec officers, the NUS, the Education Action Network, the National Coalition Against Cuts and Fees, has control over the student movement now. The politicians must be bricking it.

And the NUS has realised it can be with us or against us as well. Here is a video of Aaron Porter, NUS President sitting in the UCL occupation saying that the NUS has been “spineless” about supporting students and apologising for his “dithering”, which is very responsive of him:

The day of the vote on tuition fees is coming closer, and by all accounts, Nick Clegg is starting to have massive, epic kittens about what he is going to do. And who made that happen? We did.

If Nick Clegg votes to raise tuition fees to £9000, he faces losing his seat in the university constituency of Sheffield Hallam. Already students at the university have occupied a lecture theatre and sworn that if he votes for the rise, they will recall him using the legislation that is allegedly coming before parliament next year (though given who it will be used against, I doubt that law will face death by committee, in all likelihood). The protests, demonstrations and occupations can only grow.

If Nick Clegg keep his promise to vote against the tuition fee rise, his constituents will ate him slightly less but David Cameron will be very, very put out. Such a rebellion from a serving minister, let alone the leader of the minor coalition party makes for shakey confidence and a potential breakdown of the government itself. And setting aside the implosion of the government, the urtling downwards trajectory of the markets in the likelihood of such an event, and the annihilation of the Liberal Democrats entirely at the subsequent election, given the amount of effort Clegg has put into trying to convince people that he wants to lift the cap, if he does a second u-turn, he’s also going to look like a total doily.

And finally, Nick Clegg can agree to do what was negotiated for in the Coalition Agreement – he could abstain. His constituents will still be angry, but the current line “we lost the election, we can’t do everything we promised” washes a bit better. The problem is, with the Liberal Democrats abstaining and some Tory MPs planning to vote against the proposals (133 voted against the rise to £3000, and some will again), David Cameron can’t guarantee a majority in the vote, which means loss of confidence, potential destruction of government, drop in markets, annihilation of Liberal Democrats etc. And again, second u-turn = total doily.

So Nick Clegg finds himself in something of an impossible position. I don’t know about you, but I’m quite happy about that. And I am also just a little bit proud that I have done what I can to put him there, along with you and what must now be hundreds of thousands of other people who have written to their MPs, confronted politicians wherever they go, marched, lobbied, broken windows, and made it clear that we are fucking angry. What else should we do with politicians who spent years courting our votes with promises they threw out the window as soon as they saw their ministerial car?

The next national day of action is tomorrow. Tomorrow, the significant thing that happens will be happening. Tomorrow, I will be at 12pm outside University Place in Manchester to march again for my friends’ futures, and I hope that every Manchester student and resident will join us.

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This blogpost is the last part of a four part series.

A Lib Dem sign with a

Liberal Democrat polling is at its worst for 13 years.

I have now devoted some 4000 words to why I have left the Liberal Democrats and how the coalition government is literally a matter of life and death for some people. The response I have had from my decision has been massive, but a significant part of it has been suggestions of other parties that I might be interested in joining. So I thought I would write a little bit on why I don’t think that is a good idea.

For all that I have said previously, I’m not going to say that there aren’t things I do quite like about the Coalition over their predecessors. The scrapping of the National Identity Register (though not for foreign nationals…). The scrapping of ContactPoint. Supporting the autonomy of home educators. Not spending £800 on a Christmas tree. Telling the EU to get stuffed when it asks for more money. That’s cool.

But do you remember the part where people are going to die…? Is a higher personal tax threshold really worth the increased poverty of millions? Please, coalition supporters, tell me how you can live with yourselves, because I am stumped. Would I give up my £700 a year to keep my friends with mental health issues on community support programmes and out of psychiatric wards, hospitals and graveyards? I’d give it up in seconds.

Many people have suggested that I join the Labour Party. Several of my friends have now done so in the wake of the election and the black-haired Mr. Milband taking the leadership. However, to those who seem to think that the Labour Party will save us all from the clutches of the scissor-wielding George Osborne, I can say only one thing: have you forgotten?

A tank burns after a ambush in Iraq.

A tank burns after a ambush in Iraq.

Have you forgotten Iraq, death of David Kelly, the millions of Iraqi dead, the protests of a million people ignored? Have you forgotten 90 day detention, 42 day detention, detention without trial, control orders, extraordinary rendition? The National Identity Register, the ContactPoint database, the Forward Intelligence Team, the Independant Safeguarding Authority, NHS spine? Tuition fees, academies, the slow but steady abolition of special schools? The expansion of prisons, prison sentences, and reactive legislation (Labour created one new offence a day, every day, for 13 years)? The privatisation of everything they could possibly justify, including health, transport, education, and the post office? The handover of sovereignty of Europe and refusal to hold a referendum that they promised us? The emphasis on political expediency over evidence-based policy (drug policy, introduction of “alternative therapies” on the NHS)? That whole deregulation of the banking sector thing?

Post office workers on strike.

What has happened that no-one found it odd that the post office union had to strike under a Labour government in order to protect their jobs and prevent privatisation?

Have you forgotten just why Labour lost its majority? It’s because they did the Tories’ work for them. How can anyone tell me that Labour are the answer when they were the problem until May this year? Do you seriously believe that a man who has been at the heart of government since 1997 and who has a cabinet made up of people *responsible* for the creation and implementation of these policies are suddenly going to become lovely, fluffy social democrats without a war-mongering, authoritarian, privatising bone in their body? I don’t think so. People tell me to join the Labour Party – I can only reply that they have very, very short memories.

The Green Party logo.

Hi! Vote green for fiscal irresponsibility based on middle-class outrage!

People who want me to join the Green Party, however, are assuming that what I am looking for is an even whiter, even more middle class organisation. But while I care about the environment, I’m not prepared to deal with “the welfare problem” by putting everyone on it, giving everyone in the country £5000 a year and shutting down all private alternatives to public services. Here be authoritarian paternalism… The Green Party’s major priority seems to be, not spreading their message or persuading others of their policies, but getting the voting system reformed so their party can get more people elected. Somehow, I find that rather suspect. And what is up with that banning stem stell research thing?

A screenshot of Life of Brian.

Brian from the CPGB tries to explain why supporting war credits in Germany in 1914 is *crucial* to current revolutionary struggles...

I’m not joining any of the spectrum of the right wing parties on account of the fact that they are cheerleading on the kinds of policies that made me quit the Liberal Democrats in the first place. Been there, done that, sold out people worse off than myself. The left-wing parties I think are more thoughtful, but useless. I appreciate that socialists and communists are fundamentally concerned with human beings rather than money, but on the other hand I have far better things to do with my time than argue over the shades of theories of documents written in 1926 (you think I’m kidding…). No revolutionary system can be that detailed because no-one’s going to agree to implement it.

As for me, I think I am largely done with party politics now. But right now I’m pretty open-minded on where I go next, so feel free to leave a comment if you adhere to a brand of politics worth looking into. And by that, I mean one that doesn’t shrug at the potential death toll of thousands of people in favour of some vague idea of “fairness” that stops being meaningful the second you have the chance to do something about it.

See also:

Who’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 3

Death to the Liberal Democrats! Or, Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 1

What’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 2

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Who’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 3

October 25, 2010

This blogpost is the third of a four part series, and the fourth part will be published tomorrow. So, my friends, we established yesterday that the systems are going to be taking something of a hit as a result of coalition government. What about the people who depend on the state? What has the coalition […]

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What’s Affected by the Cuts?: Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 2

October 25, 2010

This blogpost is the second of a four part series, and the third part will be published tomorrow. Many Liberal Democrats drunken on power seem to be getting all misty-eyed over an AV referendum and the pupil premium and entirely forgetting about things like, say, the cutting of social care for the elderly by 30%. […]

5 comments Read the full article →

Death to the Liberal Democrats! Or, Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People Part 1

October 25, 2010

This blogpost is the first of a four part series, and the second part will be published tomorrow. Further to my rage-fuelled spontaneous combustion last week, I thought I would write a somewhat more thought-out explanation as to why I was planning to leave the Liberal Democrats even before I was so offended by the […]

6 comments Read the full article →