Marxist students were out in force as part of the demonstration on Wednesday 4th November against tuition fees, against the scrapping of maintenance grants, and for free education.
Marching behind a banner with the slogan “the system is broken – fight for revolution” and adorned with red flags, the MSF block was the most militant on the demonstration. We pointed out in our leaflets and in the pages of the Socialist Appeal newspaper that the fight against privatisation in education is a fight against capitalism, and the fight for free education is a fight for socialism.
The demonstration itself was a lively affair, with energetic chanting and a rapid pace to the march. The Marxists’ slogans of “Down with tuition fees, down with the government” were especially on point given that John McDonnell, the Labour shadow chancellor, addressed the demonstration and Jeremy Corbyn sent us a message of support on the day. With a real Labour opposition at last, one which is in favour of free education, we have a real chance of putting an end to this Tory government and winning the fight for free education.
But as Marxist students pointed out, it will take a revolutionary movement involving the expropriation of the 1% to guarantee free education for all: “Tory cuts are no solution, Britain needs a revolution” and “we demand free education, funded by expropriation”.
The demonstration as a whole was smaller than what might have been hoped for, and holding it on a weekday meant that many workers were unable to attend. If we are serious about the slogan “students and workers, unite and fight” then we have to do everything we can to make that into a practical reality – by helping to build for a one-day general strike, and in the meantime by holding our demonstrations at a time when workers can attend, such as a weekend.
For the first time in several years the riot police were out in force on this demonstration, with a clear aim of intimidation of peaceful protestors. Lines of riot police weaved in and out of the demonstration, while cordons of mounted police blocked various side-roads along the course of the march. The whole demonstration was followed by a convoy of police vans. The tactic of kettling was dusted off and used again on this demonstration with a small number of protesters being the victim of these aggressive policing tactics, including a number of arrests.
In the evening, after the demo, Marxist students gathered in the meeting room of a nearby pub to discuss “Corbyn, free education and the fight for socialism”. Joe Attard from the Labour Young Socialists steering committee and Ben Gliniecki from the Marxist Student Federation opened up the discussion. Points were raised about the need to build support for Corbyn and his policies – such as free education – at universities and in local Labour parties. The urgent need for the mandatory reselection of Labour MPs, in order to bring the Parliamentary Labour Party into line with the demands of ordinary members, was also clearly articulated.
What Wednesday’s demonstration showed is that the ideas of Marxism are a growing force on the left. The aim of the Marxist Student Federation is to fight for revolutionary socialist policies in the student movement and beyond. We will be at future demonstrations, pickets and meetings to carry on our struggle. If you would like to join our revolutionary organisation get in touch today.
- No barriers! No borders! No business!
- We demand free education, funded by expropriation!
- For international socialist revolution!