Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest

Nick Clegg came under renewed pressure over his tuition fees u-turn at Prime Minister's Questions today as 50,000 students marched on parliament in the biggest protest against the government since it came to power. However, violent scenes at Millbank Tower, home of the Conservative party, cast a pall over the demonstration.

Nick Clegg came under renewed pressure over his tuition fees u-turn at Prime Minister’s Questions today as 50,000 students marched on parliament in the biggest protest against the government since it came to power. However, violent scenes at Millbank Tower, home of the Conservative party, cast a pall over the demonstration.

National Union of Students president Aaron Porter “absolutely condemned” the violence, telling BBC News it was “not part of our plan” and the “actions of others who have come on to our march”, adding: “A minority have sought to undermine us.”

Porter also tweeted:

“Proud of the 50,000 students who have come to protest peacefully. Shame on those who are here to cause trouble.”

In addition, there was a sit down and occupation on the streets surrounding parliament; again, as with the violence at Millbank, nothing to do with the NUS – as seen in a video from Socialist Worker which clearly shows an NUS steward urging students to stand up.

Earlier, Mr Clegg was asked 12 times about fees at PMQs, failing to answer questions about the cuts to university teaching grants, described by Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman as “staggering”. She accused the deputy prime minister of “pulling the plug on public funding and putting the cost on students”.

Last week, Left Foot Forward reported on the likely abolition of teaching grants to 24 UK universities, including the LSE and SOAS, following universities minister David Willetts’s admission that state funding funding of arts, humanities and social sciences degrees would be scrapped.

This morning, the University and College Union revealed the cost of studying for a degree would double by 2012, while a survey of student teachers by the National Union of Teachers has shown that four-fifths found it difficult to make ends meet as a student – with 41 per cent finding it “very difficult”. Only 2.6 per cent of those polled support the plans to cut university teaching budgets.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said:

“No amount of window dressing can take away from the fact that the coalition Government’s proposals for raising tuition fees will result in generations of young people being denied access to a university education on the grounds that they, or their families cannot countenance the debts with which they will be saddled.

“If higher education becomes the preserve of the wealthy it will be to the detriment of society. Ministers need to think again if we are to avoid shortfalls in recruitment to teacher training in the future.”

Update 4:15

To add to the visage of a man under siege, Nick Clegg announced he was pulling out of his visit to Oxford University next week, following in the footsteps of Vince Cable, who infamously cancelled his planned visit to Oxford last month, citing “police advice” – a claim disputed by the police. The Liberal Democrat leader said he had pulled our “due to an unfortunate diary clash”.

32 Responses to “Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest”

  1. Martin Johnston

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest: http://bit.ly/cxJxjl writes @shamikdas #PMQs #Demo2010

  2. Tim Bedwell

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest: http://bit.ly/cxJxjl writes @shamikdas #PMQs #Demo2010

  3. Heather Chi

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest: http://bit.ly/cxJxjl writes @shamikdas #PMQs #Demo2010

  4. GORDON LYEW

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest: http://bit.ly/cxJxjl writes @shamikdas #PMQs #Demo2010

  5. ♥ Ryn C. ♥

    Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest: http://bit.ly/cxJxjl writes @shamikdas #PMQs #Demo2010 via @leftfootfwd

  6. merthyr_bill

    bloody students. they’ll be all for fees when they’ve graduated.

  7. Visionary Emissary

    Its always the same agent provocateurs that are undoubtedly there to undermine the valid voices of concern. Again this only annoys the public and erode sympathy, this is just one of many tactics employed by the individuals with everything to gain from such organised chaos. If only the stupid students would grab these agents all dressed in black garb and with veils and make a citizens arrest, instead the sheep emulate these vile few. Another wasted march and time organising the event, the BBC propaganda repeating the mantra of chaos riots blah blah blah, baah baah.

  8. Bobby Crayfish

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest: http://bit.ly/cxJxjl writes @shamikdas #PMQs #Demo2010

  9. Stacey

    To merthyr_bill: I am a student, although I have narrowly missed these proposed fee increases I did in fact protest (without violence, I may add, since this is all the media appear to have covered) against this purely for the future. I would like the rest of my family, including future generations, to feel like education is their right rather than a privilege for the rich.

    Even though I personally do not come from a particularly poor background, nor do I have a spare £27,000 lying around somewhere, and I am already disappointed with the amount of debt I will be landed in as soon as I graduate. I can only imagine how much more disappointed future students will be once the universities get to charge what they want.

    Regardless of what anyone chooses to study, now or in the future, they should not be forced to make unwanted choices simply because they are the cheaper option.

    By the way, I heard that the protesters that were smashing windows and throwing missiles weren’t even students. I don’t know if this is true, as I was protesting near Westminister Abbey not the Millbank Tower.

  10. Ell Aitch

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clegg under fire over fees as violence mars student protest: http://bit.ly/cxJxjl writes @shamikdas #PMQs #Demo2010

  11. merthyr_bill

    Stacey. I was a student once and support a graduate tax for others in my position. The new proposals are not a loan, they are a graduate tax in all but name. And it is fair. You dont have to pay until you earn over a certain amount and nothing to pay up front. It is a very progressive move and stops people paying for other adults’ education that they themselves are not getting.

  12. 13eastie

    What an absolute rabble the NUS is.

    Aaron Porter has been shown comprehensively to be utterly out of his depth as the mob protest he “organised” descended into medieval barbarism.

    1. Completely hoodwinked by the Socialist “Worker” Party and other armed, ramshackle, trouble-makers

    2. Failed to gauge the potential among his own followers for pre-meditated violence or to communicate it to the authorities

    3. Neglected to mitigate the potential for vandalism / injury

    4. Was uninterested in doing anything personally to defuse the situation at Millbank

    5. Allowed official NUS reps to be seen on TV participating in the rioting

    There were 2,000 at Millbank from a claimed turn-out of 50,000. This is a lot more than a few bad apples.

    Porter is extremely fortunate no-one has been killed.

    Real life is a bit different to the JCR, eh, Aaron?

    Half a million at the Countryside Alliance march and not one arrest. What’s wrong with your “intelligentsia”, Aaron?

  13. Chris

    @merthy_bill / mousey the tory press officer

    Yawn.

    @13eastie

    “Half a million at the Countryside Alliance march and not one arrest.”

    Would that be the Countryside Alliance march that resulted in Otis Ferry and his gang bursting into the HoC? Weren’t they arrested?

  14. Dead fox guts

    @ 13eastie I love it when someone from the Countryside Alliance talks about medieval barbarism.

  15. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Public forum. People watching. You telling lies and smearing people. Sound familiar?

    If you argue that the march you mention caused Otis Ferry to break the law then those idiots yesterday rioted because Labour lied about tuition fees.

    That is the most stupid argument you have used on this blog – grow up.

    Stop telling lies and smearing people in public forums. Shamik or Will should have stopped your abusive behaviour by now.

    I notice merthyr_bill and Billy Blofeld are immediately sanctioned for transgressions – perhaps because they don’t share your delusional views. That is on the likes of the Primrose Hill, millionaire but never done a single days work, Ed Miliband and his biggest fanboy Joss Garman.

    The fact is your rudeness simply serves to remind readers that irrespective of Ed Miliband’s speech at the Labour conference the activists clearly haven’t changed.

    The Primrose Hill millionaire Ed Miliband gets it – why don’t you?

  16. Little Richardjohn

    This is a moral argument. And in spite of a few broken windows yesterday, the government does not hold the high ground. And many will be encouraged by yesterday’s scenes. So there will be more demonstrations of anger, and more violence. And while the students alone are no Chartists or Suffragettes, together with the many other blameless victims of free-market madness they constitute a coherent single case against the atomisation of society and community, and for progressive change. And so the Chartist position is a perfectly valid one to adopt, as it is for all opposition to the excesses or idiocies of government.
    ‘By moral force if we may. By physical force if we must.’
    The calls for clampdowns will be counter-productive. The more they crack down, the more violence there will be. If the Condems wanted nice protest, they should have made nice cuts. In other words, they deserve everything they get because they are the cause of it.

  17. Chris

    @mousey the tory press officer

    “Public forum. People watching.”

    Yes, I am watching and checking you every word to make sure you aren’t just copy and pasting directly from tory party press releases – paid trolls should at least have to do some work for Cashcroft’s money.

    “If you argue that the march you mention caused Otis Ferry to break the law then those idiots yesterday rioted because Labour lied about tuition fees.

    That is the most stupid argument you have used on this blog – grow up.”

    Your rebuttal doesn’t even make sense, have they increased your sedatives again?

    “Stop telling lies and smearing people in public forums. Shamik or Will should have stopped your abusive behaviour by now.”

    Where am I lying? I caught you copy and pasting an entire paragraph from a tory party press release. Taken with your zero knowledge of key libdem policies, which you could have looked up on the net in 5 seconds, would lead any reasonable person to believe your not what you claim to be.

    I also find it laughable that your the one telling anybody to stop smearing other commentators. You regularly smear and insult anybody who writes an article or comments on one that doesn’t conform to your right wing narrative of Labour’s time in power. You’ve even crow barred in a smear/insult at Joss Garman, what is your obsession with Joss?

    “The Primrose Hill millionaire Ed Miliband gets it – why don’t you?”

    Ed isn’t a millionaire. Why don’t you get that?

    Another pointless, nasty tirade on your part mousey. Is your tactic to post such endless rubbish, fact checked against tory press releases, that everybody else gives up and goes elsewhere?

  18. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Public forum. People watching. You telling lies and smearing people. Sound familiar?

    Irrespective of where information is taken from it is still EVIDENCE – stop smearing the messenger. The message is true – you’re lying by stating otherwise.

    Answer the question please. Which you can’t because what I say is true or I wouldn’t say it. All you’ve done is the usual Labour smear stuff, which incidentally the editors of this fine blog said they wouldn’t allow and only you do it.

    I don’t have any obsession with Joss Garman I just happen to think that when someone tries to justify “Friends Of The Earth” colluding with a pack of lies in a letter that directly leads to innocent people being left to starve to death then it’s wrong.

    I do realise that your precious Labour Party produced documents that were also a pack of lies about Iraq which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocents as well, so obviously you don’t have a problem with that but I do.

    Ed Miliband is a millionaire from the share of his fathers house and by then “avoiding” paying Inheritance Tax. Combine this with his “questionable” property renting and dealing with his brother and the assets he inherited from his father sent his personal wealth skyward. Why do you not know this stuff? Why do you think he isn’t married?

    That’s why he’s the Primrose Hill, never done a days work in his life, millionaire. To suggest otherwise is not true and is just a pack of lies.

    Why are you bothered anyway Chris? Isn’t Labour the party of big business that is “comfortable with people getting filthy rich”?

    Or let me guess you don’t know where that quote comes from now.

    In conclusion stop telling lies and smearing in public forums. You’re the only one who does it on this blog – head over to Labourlist for your groupthink fix of rabid labour ideas…

  19. Chris

    @mousey the tory press officer

    “Answer the question please.”

    What question?

    “Which you can’t because what I say is true or I wouldn’t say it.”

    LOL, your deluded if you think the rubbish you spout isn’t a pack of lies.

    “I don’t have any obsession with Joss Garman I just happen to think that when someone tries to justify “Friends Of The Earth” colluding with a pack of lies in a letter that directly leads to innocent people being left to starve to death then it’s wrong.”

    Ah, huge smear there mousey and one that has been rebutted.

    “Ed Miliband is a millionaire from the share of his fathers house and by then “avoiding” paying Inheritance Tax.”

    Bollocks, there was no inheritance on his part as his mum is still alive.

    “Combine this with his “questionable” property renting”

    WTF?

    ” and dealing with his brother and the assets he inherited from his father sent his personal wealth skyward.”

    David bought Ed’s share of the house, Ed’s paid CGT on this.

    “Why do you not know this stuff?”

    I do know it and know the angle you put on it is untrue.

    “Why do you think he isn’t married?”

    LOL, you stupid little moron. Ed’s wife is far wealthy than Ed, she’s a top lawyer ffs.

    “That’s why he’s the Primrose Hill, never done a days work in his life, millionaire.”

    Yawn.

    “Why are you bothered anyway Chris?”

    I’m not bothered.

    “Or let me guess you don’t know where that quote comes from now.”

    LOL, imitation is flattering mousey but your not going to catch me out like I caught you out with Huhne’s quote on nuclear power – have you actually visited the libdem website yet?

    “In conclusion stop telling lies and smearing in public forums.”

    Your the one who lies and smears commentators. And your not in a public forum, nobody knows your name.

    Very weak reply mousey, Cashcroft isn’t getting his monies worth with you!

  20. Chris

    Oh and needless to say none of your comment was actually on topic.

  21. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Public forum. People watching. You telling lies and smearing people. Sound familiar?

    Chris let’s take it SLOWLY, bit by bit from what I’ve said, then everyone can see your lies and smearing exposed. Where was what I said here rebutted?

    NOT THE CONTENT OF WHAT I SAID PLEASE – “THE REBUTTAL” YOU REFER TO. Where is that – Link: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/11/what-channel-4-got-wrong/

    Where I said: “In this public forum can you please explain where the information in the final paragraph comes from:

    “The safety of GM food is unproven. On the contrary, there is sufficient scientific evidence to suggest it is unsafe. GM food can potentially give rise to a range of health problems, including: food allergies, chronic toxic effects, infections from bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics, rendering those infections untreatable; and possible ailments including cancers, some of which are yet difficult or impossible to predict because of the present state of risk assessment and food safety tests”

    There was certainly NO EVIDENCE for any of those claims even today yet that was a decade ago and the end of your link where Greenpeace state:

    “To say that African countries adopted policies on advice from Greenpeace and other environment groups is wrong. African governments decide these things for themselves”

    Well if the African government didn’t know any better about how safe GM is and at the time they didn’t, what were they to do?

    Without ANY evidence that GM foods were harmful Greenpeace added it’s name to a letter that advised an ignorant government that it was a political American idea to potentially kill their people with dangerous foods.

    And with the connivance of Friends Of The Earth (but not the innocents who live on it) the people continued to starve to death.

    Well done Joss – I bet you had your organic muesli this morning. Ten years ago those wretched people in Zambia didn’t… ”

    Well? Where is the rebuttal you refer to. PLEASE do not respond to the comments above, just show me the rebuttal.

  22. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Public forum. People watching. You telling lies and smearing people. Sound familiar?

    Regarding Miliband’s property status, this is from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/ed-miliband/8039829/Red-Ed-Miliband-lives-in-1.6m-house-after-shrewd-property-moves.html

    Which bit has “my angle” on it – I didn’t write this article…

    Well?

  23. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Public forum. People watching. You telling lies and smearing people. Sound familiar?

    Chris – You said “LOL, imitation is flattering mousey but your not going to catch me out like I caught you out with Huhne’s quote on nuclear power – have you actually visited the libdem website yet?”

    As I remember and pointed out to you that quote was pre Coalition government from 2007 in fact – how was that catching me out?

    It was you using out of date information to try to make a point where you were wrong again…

    Have you joined the Lib Dems yet Chris or are the winners too intelligent for you?

  24. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Public forum. People watching. You telling lies and smearing people. Sound familiar?

    Chris – You said “Your the one who lies and smears commentators. And your not in a public forum, nobody knows your name.”

    Two things Chris. Firstly the forum is public irrespective of my status and secondly how does my identity affect the validity or otherwise of my comments?

    Unless of course your intention is to try a typical Labour smear…

  25. Chris

    Oh dear mousey, you’ve had a major relapse. Its long armed jacket and nappy time for you again, won’t you reconsider the lobotomy.

    I can’t really be bothered to reply in detail but I will say that i. Greenpeace repudiated the accusation about US food aid containing GM ii. Your own telegraph link supports me as it clearly shows Ed didn’t make a million on property deals and that his wife owns their home. iii. The quote which caught you out and showed you are not actually a libdem was from 2009 and was libdem policy during the election.

    “Two things Chris. Firstly the forum is public irrespective of my status and secondly how does my identity affect the validity or otherwise of my comments?”

    Your identity, or lack of one, affects the validity of your comments because you claim to be something, a former labourite libdem, when your posts reveal a shocking lack of knowledge about libdem policies. And your use of tory press releases as source material leads me to believe you aren’t what you claim to be.

    What was the topic again?

  26. Look Left – Real issues lost amidst the madness | Left Foot Forward

    […] theatre in which the final decision on fees will be made – parliament, with Harriet Harman terrorising Nick Clegg at (deputy) PMQs, asking six of the 12 questions fired at the DPM on higher education, […]

  27. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Public forum. People watching. You telling lies and smearing people. Sound familiar?

    I never said I voted Lib Dem. I’m an ex Labour voter who voted Independant this year (not UKIP btw) and ironically Labour win the seat. Go figure.

    I an now a convert to the Lib Dems because they remind me of how Labour should be.

    My advice Chris is to be more polite in public in future and come and join the Lib Dems before it’s too late.

    We are a broad church and our door is always open – especially for people who’ve seen the light and come in from the Dark Side. Oh yes…..

  28. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Come and join the Lib Dems. All will be forgiven I promise.

    Now is the chance to redeem yourself and get on the side that’s winning instead of the party of losers and hypocrites.

  29. Chris

    @mousey

    “I an now a convert to the Lib Dems because they remind me of how Labour should be.”

    What liars and cheats?

    Greenpeace rebuttal of GM – http://bit.ly/a5T3zM

  30. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – Do you mean: What. Liars and cheats?

    (Note the pause after the ‘what’)

  31. Anon E Mouse

    Chris – The link is just to a piece written by themselves to try to assuage their guilt over the starving innocents.

    They put their name to a pack of lies about the intent of the Americans and exaggerated the dangers of GM food – dangers that still haven’t come true in a decade and they did it for openly political reasons.

    It’s a shameful situation and to deny it in such an unconvincing way is pathetic and Joss Garman should be ashamed of himself…

  32. In defence of the liberal arts - why the government must think again | Left Foot Forward

    […] week thousands of students and academics marched on parliament to protest against sweeping changes to higher education funding. The coalition […]

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