Ignore the violence – the demo was a huge success

I feel like I need to write something about the tuition fees demo today. That said, there are lots of great blogs and comment pieces all over the media so I shall (try) to keep it brief.

First, try not to focus on the violence. Don’t get me wrong, it was obscene and criminal, but it was also the product of a tiny minority determined to hijack the occasion for their own ends. By focussing on this rather than the ‘official’ demo we just let the anarchists and trots win.

Secondly, have no doubt, this demo was huge – At over 50,000 strong it was easily the biggest student demo of a generation and the most significant demo since the coalition came to power. I suspect though that it is only the first of many.

Thirdly, we should salute each and every student who peacefully took to the streets today. For most, students already, any rise in tuition fees will have no impact coming into force long-after they have graduated. Yet still they came out in their tens of thousands, determined that future generations should enjoy the same rights and access to higher education they currently do.

And finally to the organisers. Aaron Porter and his team (along with the UCU) should step-up and take a bow. Not only did they manage to mobilise students the length and breadth of the UK they combined this with an impressive lobbying effort that saw no less than 12 fees related questions directed at Nick Clegg during PMQs – just as the demo was passing by parliament. This was a lesson in organising key any would be campaigner should pay close attention to.

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