Monday 31 January 2011

Manchester Disunited

I attended a demo and rally in Manchester on Saturday, to protest against the coalition cuts to education and public sector funding. It all went fairly smoothly, there were literally hundreds of police present and it seemed that the march was organised to in order to cause the minimum impact and gain the minimum amount of coverage possible. We started at the Manchester museum then marched out of town not through it, to a field, where an angry mob of students gathered They were most angry however not about coalition cuts but about their leader, Aaron Porter and his lack of backing for the London protests.

Porter prefers a softly softly approach, writing to coalition MP Simon Hughes to politely ask why the fees are going up to £9000 rather than £6000. The students he has been elected to represent do not approve of this 'roll over and die attitude' as they see it. They had brought eggs to pelt him with during a speech he was due to make at the end of the march but they did no get their chance: Before the march some students chanted "Aaron Porter we know you, you're a ****ing Tory too" (a chant normally reserved for Nick Clegg) The NUS President then left surrounded by a police cordon. At the end of the rally Aaron's eggs were thrown at other speakers who were heckled for not being Aaron Porter, it was a messy end to what had been an interesting day.

Pro Egyptian chants were common, I was relieved to demonstrating in Manchester rather than Suez or Cairo. There was a disproportionate police presence, we were hemmed in by police for short periods of time but I was not in fear of being tear gassed or shot in the face by a 'rubber' bullet.

I learned a lot in Manchester; in every Union (and in every political movement) there are sub groups. They all want basically the same thing; fairness for their members, but they still feel the need to disagree with each other. Eggs are not the way to solve these disagreements. There have been two votes of no confidence in the NUS President. Aaron Porter is a politician, if the majority of students are like the students I met in Manchester and feel as if he does not not represent them then political methods are best ways in which to remove him.

I will sign off in same manner as a trade union studies lecturer who is also the branch chair of my Union,

In Unity,


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