Actions took place in more than 40 towns and cities across Britain, in a Day of Action which has built on the recent upturn of struggle against austerity which has included a series of national strikes, a massive anti-Tory protest in Manchester and the launching of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity movement itself in June with a 4,000 strong meeting.
Alongside joining the protests organized by local People’s Assembly groups across the country, students led creative actions throughout the day.
In the morning student activists in Sheffield kicked off the day with a banner drop.
In Cambridge, anti-cuts group Cambridge Defend Education organized an action against the privatization of student loans. In a creative spin on the popular playground game ‘Stuck in the Mud’ student activists performed a game of ‘Stuck in the Debt’ which involved student being captured by debt wielding bankers.
As nighttime fell hundreds of protesters joined the People’s Assembly blockade of Westminster Bridge. Students joined pensioners, trade unionists, Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn MP in burning energy bills in a protest against the rising cost of living which is forcing people to choose between “heating and eating.”
Students James and Emmeline from Kings College London and Queen Mary joined the blockade of Westminster Bridge in what was their first ever protest.
“I felt empowered not just by the fact that I could shout and scream, but because I could shout and scream in the name of real democracy: a functioning and active democracy, against the withering legitimacy of a big building in the center of London. i.e. Parliament.”
Emmeline added, “I joined the protest on Tuesday as I am disgusted with this Government and its inhumane measures of forcing the most vulnerable sections of our society into poverty, whilst at the same time allowing tax avoidance at the top to remain legal. How can anyone not be angry with such a system? The protest was brilliant; I really felt part of something big. It is such an exciting time to get involved right now – everything’s starting to kick off.”
Simultaneously, Russell Brand led the big Anonymous march from Trafalgar Square to Parliament and told the Guardian, "Luckily with organisations like them, Occupy, Anonymous and The People's Assembly I don't need to come with ideas, we can all participate.”
Tuesday's fantastic National Day of Action provided a key opportunity to speak out against austerity. Building on this success is crucial.
Here are a couple of next steps for students over the coming weeks:
1. Set up a Student Assembly Against Austerity on your campus
Start planning a local Student Assembly Against Austerity public meeting on your campus. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in setting up an Assembly on your campus and would like some help
2. Join the fight to stop the student debt sell off
The government is planning to sell off the student loan book to private companies. In order to make the student loan book profitable, privatisation will be accompanied by increasing the financial burden on graduates.
Last month students from London and Birmingham protested outside Lib Dem MPs offices in the first wave of protest against this move.
The Student Assembly Against Austerity has organised for an Early Day Motion, ‘SALE OF STUDENT LOANS EDM 542’, to be put down in Parliament, which 33 MPs have already signed.
A lobby tool which allows you to lobby your MP in less than 2 minutes is available here – use it today and encourage others to use it too.
3. Support the campaign to Bring Back EMA
Students in Further Education Colleges have been leading the campaign to bring back the Education Maintenance Allowance after it was slashed by the government in 2010. This year the Bring Back EMA Campaign succeeded in persuading 63 MPs to sign an Early Day Motion in Parliament to bring back the vital grant.
The next step in the campaign is building a mass petition – sign and share the petition online today here.
The Bring Back EMA campaign are mobilising colleges to build as much support for the petition as possible.
5. Keep in touch!
Check out the Student Assembly Against Austerity website for updates on actions, campaigns and events including how students can support university staff fighting for fair pay: www.thestudentassembly.org.uk
The Student Assembly Against Austerity website facebook page: www.facebook.com/thestudentassembly
The Student Assembly Against Austerity twitter handle: @thestudentassem
Please keep in touch with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity by regularly checking the website: www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk