Manchester students march against austerity – 30/11/2010
Over 1500 students from schools, colleges and universities marched through Manchester as part of the second national day of action against the cuts in education and the rise in fees. The police presence was overwhelming with groups of officers clustered all over the main campus, riot police were being held in reserve and a dozen or so mounted police trotted up and down Oxford Road This was a clear show of force by the police who seem intent on stamping on the student protests after the Millbank action. There was 5 arrests for seemingly innocuous incidents that were clearly just used to justify their presence.
The demonstration set off in what was essentially a kettle towards Manchester Metropolitan University where more students joined the protest. Members of Manchester Communist Students gave out hundreds of our ‘From protest to power‘ leaflets and marched together chanting “Who was right? Marx was right” and “One solution! Revolution!” with students joining in around them.
The demonstration went up Oxford Road with university staff and pensioners joining on the way. The protest went around Manchester town hall and eventually to Manchester Cathedral where the police decided to hold the march in place where minor scuffles took place resulting in a couple of arrests and some students being dragged out. The march then proceeded down to the Britannia hotel where the police were able to regroup and funnel the march back down Oxford road to the University. There were a great deal of Police waiting for the march, about 200 as well as about 15 police horses. They were fearful of a repeat of last weeks blocking of Oxford Road and they proceeded to kettle the crowd. This was completely unnecessary as the crowd was peaceful and it made just made the police look silly. After a while they realised the pointlessness of their action and proceeded to let people out.
300 from the crowd made their way into the Roscoe occupation and crammed in until there was literally no where left to sit. Speeches were made including a rep from UCU who got the crowd chanting, “Students and Workers, unite and fight”, a year 9 school pupil who to raptures of applause spoke about school children wanting to fight back. Unfortunately he said that at his school the doors and gates were blocked on police and management orders. The energy in the room was electric and after spending four nights in the occupation not knowing how much worth that effort would be it was inspiring to see such a large room full of people so dedicated to beating the cuts.
During the discussion a member of CS stood up and to thunderous cheer declared that the fight is not just against this current government, or the Labour government in waiting, but that this crisis is a crisis of capitalism and it is the system that is the real enemy we should be fighting. Up until that moment the real issue had been largely avoided by the anti-cuts campaign as it was seen as being in danger of alienating too many people from the movement. The disastrous opportunism of building the broadest possible movement by subordinating socialist politics to reformists and the right-wing.
The occupation is still going strong at Manchester and support from unions, academics and education staff has flooded in. It is clear we have the raw material, the anger and the support to build a movement to defeat the austerity drive. The fight is on to imbue these struggles with a programme committed to working class rule, socialist revolution.