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You say cut back. We say fight back!

By 12/04/2010 September 9th, 2014 All Posts, Celine's Posts

Check out Andrea’s December post for more on the UK protests.

The UK is in the throes of the largest student movement this country has witnessed in a generation. As I write, 20 universities are occupied (including, as of a few hours ago, my own school, the London School of Economics).

A hundred thousand people have been involved in protests and non-violent actions across the country over the past three weeks.

Sea of Students

Amena Amer via Flickr – Stationary Nomads

revolution tag

(Source: http://theaimresistance.blogspot.com/)

Last October, the new coalition government headed by Tory-leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, unveiled a plan to cut some £83 billion in public expenditures (little under $130 billion). Many believe these measures will have deeper and longer detrimental effects on British society than Margaret Thatcher’s historic reforms.

Some of the cuts include  (bear in mind there are many more):

  • halting the £50/week allowance for the  1 million people who claim disability insurance;
  • cutting spending on public housing by over 50%;
  • eliminating life-time affordable housing for Britain’s poorest new tenants

The “Big Society” –– a conservative call for ordinary citizens to roll up their sleeves and transform a “broken Britain” into a “fairer society” –– is being launched with a 28% cut to local government over the next four years.  Most affected are the country’s most vulnerable as vital frontline social services are the first to be hit.

Even police budgets will be slashed by 20%.

It is estimated that half a million people will lose their jobs, and that more will follow if these actions trigger  a double-dip recession, as some have predicted.

There really isn’t a flip side to the current proposals.  No real job creation program are on the table.  There is no serious strategy for how to keep the economy going –– just for the private sector to pick up the slack by hiring more people.

Britons are bracing themselves for the worst.  Local authorities are preparing for a spike in homelessness, joblessness and a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people  who will no longer be able to afford to live in city-centers. In London alone, there’s talk of 200,000 people being pushed out of the city as affordable housing benefits get scraped.

Things are bad. But many people are finding new hope in the growing student movement that is shaking the coalition government’s plans for education.

Fund Our futures

Amena Amer via Flickr – Stationary Nomads

Over the past three weeks, students, teachers and parents alike have taken to the streets to express their anger over education cuts which include:

  • 40% decrease in higher education spending by 2014;
  • Tripling tuition fees (from a little over £3,000 to £9,000 a year for undergraduate students) NOTE: tuition fees were only introduced in the UK in 1998;
  • Elimination of education allowances which currently provide financial aid to 620,000 disadvantaged 16- to 19-year-olds;
  • £1.1 billion cut to further (continuing) education.

Additionally, the government is talking about cutting spending for university teaching by 80% (YES, 80%) and eliminating all direct State-funding to the arts and humanities, in order to target “priority” subjects (medicine, science, engineering and modern languages).

you're cutting our arts

Amena Amer via Flickr – Stationary Nomads

arts student protest

(Source: http://thegreatunrest.files.wordpress.com)

On top of all this, many Liberal Democrats backed down from their election campaign pledge to vote against a rise in tuition fees. This backsliding is a particularly sore point for people who voted for the LibDems and is proving to be an important point of leverage for the student movement.

Thanks to the pressure brought on by students, there is now a four way split in the government’s vote on the tuition fees bill on December 9, some voting for, some 15 are likely to vote against, others will be abstaining and some calling to halt the passage of the bill altogether. Most significantly, business secretary Vince Cable has been talking of abstaining from voting, even though he recommended the bill to the House of Commons in the first place.

LibDem MPs NUS pledgeLibDem MPs, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg holding up

National Union of Student’s pledge to fight rises in tuition fees

What follows are some videos of the recent and amazing protests and occupations:

On November 30 thousands of protesters disperse to avoid the controversial police tactic of “kettling” which consists of cordoning off protesters and detaining them for hours.

[the posted video was removed by the original host.  here is a similar one, below]

Students occupy a bank and a supermarket holding lectures as the “The University of Strategic Optimism”.

Holloway students took part in the funeral to education.

These are just a  few example of all the actions happening in the UK at the moment.  I’m grateful to be a part of it, in solidarity with all students and others who are speaking back to power and reclaiming their rights.

December 9 is when the vote will be taken on whether or not to increase tuition.

I’ll let you know what went down, here on Dr. Pop.

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