Thursday, 11 November 2010

50,000 marched to stop education cuts - that's the big story

The Metropolitan Police were caught on the hop when some people on Wednesday’s student demonstration took out their anger on the Conservative Party offices at Millbank Tower. I am not sure why it came as such a surprise to them.

A lot of people are going to be hit hard by ConDem cuts. Families will be forced from their homes, and priced out of their own communities. Young people will be priced out of higher education, and face the prospect of joining the growing ranks of the unemployed. Millions of people, who thought they could look forward to a reasonably secure life, will suddenly find themselves caught up in a crisis they did not create.

There is going to be anger. There is going to be bitterness. And no-one should be surprised if there is social unrest. You can’t set about casting millions of people into the economic wilderness, while dismantling the protection that comes from our welfare state, and still expect a polite response.

Upwards of 50,000 students and their supporters marched through London. That is a remarkable achievement, and shows that opposition to the ConDem plans is growing, and growing fast.

The media will be full of outrage about the trouble at Millbank Tower. And I don’t think those involved did themselves or their cause any great favour. What is needed is a nationwide movement of millions willing to protest. This will be built by winning the arguments, not by smashing windows.

But any destruction they caused is nothing compared to the damage the Tories and Lib Dems are about to do to our country. And the really big story is that tens of thousands of young people marched peacefully to defend our education system, and to show solidarity with those whose future is threatened by Tory cuts.