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On Wednesday the 21st of November, an estimated 10,000 students marched through central London, in opposition of the ongoing Tory cuts, the coalition government’s contradicting views on education, and, as it turned out, the inaction of the NUS.
Even before the start of the protest, it was clear that the NUS had sold us out. Last year’s march, not organised by the NUS, took students through the middle of London, past Trafalgar Square and St Paul’s cathedral. In contrast, this year’s protest avoided the City, starting out near the financial district, but quickly moving towards the Oval cricket ground, a place a couple of miles away from Central London, and of no political importance. NUS representatives handed out picket signs with the tepid, apolitical slogan ‘Educate, employ, empower.’
It was only when people started going against the NUS’ orders that the demonstration started to pick up. As the march moved dangerously close to Westminster, police and NUS reps were forced to deal with hundreds of students breaking off from the march, and protesting outside of Parliament. As the police realised that there were too many people to arrest, the NUS stewards tried to move us along, saying ‘You’re ruining our protest.’
When the Parliament Square protest was finally moved on, NUS representatives found that their march had been hijacked. Chants protesting the fees had been replaced by anticapitalist slogans. Picket signs calling for Clegg’s resignation were joined by signs urging workers to unite against the Bourgeoisie. In a final act of defiance, the president of the NUS was pelted with eggs and abuse.
From what I saw at the march, it seemed like students as a whole are a lot angrier than the NUS wants us to be.