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NUS Demo today

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mons
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Nov 21 2012 19:55
NUS Demo today

Anyone go to the NUS demo today? How was it?

Apparently there were 10000 people there, more than I thought would go to be fair. One long kettle as NUS led people to, err, Kennington Park, but apparently there was plenty of good heckling and when Liam Burns (NUS Pres) spoke the stage was stormed and he had to leave it.

vanilla.ice.baby
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Nov 21 2012 21:45

Yes the stage was stormed by less than 20 people in front of an audience of about 300 everyone else had fucked off due to the weather, it doesn't look like either side is capable of marshalling mighty forces.

wojtek
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Nov 22 2012 00:04

Some background:

Quote:
NUS' political fear of a history of violence

NUS President Liam Burns threatens to remove Edward Bauer as a trustee for suggesting that students ought to deviate from the planned route. LB's letter is here and EB's reply is here.

Pamphlets distributed by The Imaginary Party here and here.

The Guardian: Demo 2012: student rally disrupted by hecklers

The Guardian: Student march ends in eggs, fruit and anger

Some good photographs in The Daily Mail.

The book bloc made a return.

wojtek
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Nov 22 2012 03:19

http://twitter.com/WailQ/status/271234166291562496/photo/1

Johnny Void: NUS Organise A Demonstration of Passivity in the Pouring Rain

Aflwydd
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Nov 22 2012 18:47

I was there and was disgusted by the actions of the NUS. If there is a symbolic image of the protest, it is the barricades preventing us from marching on parliament square adorned with the NUS demo posters, complete with a slogan that was not voted for. (the twitter link above shows it)

Liam Burns, just like Aaron Porter, is a careerist tosser who doesn't care about the students. Here's a quote from one of the Guardian articles:

"We got shed loads of concessions out of the new tuition fee system because of the [Lib Dem] pledge campaign. That didn't look like a Quebec all-out strike. It didn't look like what happened in Chile. But it was powerful and effective"

That's who students have representing them. Enough. From now on we organise in spite of the NUS, not at their behest. If they want to carry on acquiescing to police demands, they will become irrelevant. I know for a fact that many students who believed in the NUS lost that belief after yesterday.

wojtek
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Nov 22 2012 22:53
Quote:
Liam Burns said:
We are not going to deride those tactics [of direct action taken by Québécoise and Chilean students] but we need to have 21st-century campaigning when dealing with 21st-century problems

Politicians and Students in Candlelit Vigil for Education
lolz

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Arbeiten
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Nov 23 2012 12:20
Aflwydd wrote:
That's who students have representing them. Enough. From now on we organise in spite of the NUS, not at their behest. If they want to carry on acquiescing to police demands, they will become irrelevant. I know for a fact that many students who believed in the NUS lost that belief after yesterday.

I'm no longer a student, but I always thought it were in spite of the NUS. Even NUS called actions...

mons
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Nov 23 2012 14:41

Sounds predictably flat.

Obviously the NUS are shite but equally without them a lot less would have happened. Millbank wouldn't have, and presumably the whole student movement wouldn't have, if it weren't for them calling their initial demo - altho obviously things moved beyond, better and against the NUS after that (at the same time the NUS demo was the biggest and after they stopped organising anything and NCAFC took over the demo's were all considerably smaller).

mons
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Nov 24 2012 19:34

Who other than the NUS could have called it? There was no other organisation, NCAFC was tiny at that stage but I guess you mean them? I don't think they'd have had any mobilising power, at most uni's nobody other than some Trots would have even heard of them, and so the demo would have been a joke.

No, NCAFC didn't get more people. Millbank demo had 50000; first NCACF one had much less, maybe 25000 at best. After that they got smaller and smaller.
Edit - Equally, if NCAFC organised a demo now/instead of the NUS one, I would bet anything that they would not have got nearly the numbers of this recent NUS one.

Aflwydd
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Nov 24 2012 20:09

To be honest, i'd rather a smaller, more radical NCAFC protest than a bigger, passive waste of time that the NUS wants. Numbers mean nothing when people are doing no more than walking about, as the TUC march, which I also attended, showed.

mons
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Nov 25 2012 14:53

Yep I basically agree. Although to be pedantic numbers do mean quite a lot, not so much practically - numbers don't equate to change by themselves - but cos it is indicative of wider support and shows greater potential for things expanding in better directions.

Also I think we've got to acknowledge that (sadly maybe...) it is wrong to say the NUS has/had no role - cos without them there wouldn't even have been smaller more radical NCAFC marches.

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 25 2012 15:33
mons wrote:
No, NCAFC didn't get more people. Millbank demo had 50000; first NCACF one had much less, maybe 25000 at best. After that they got smaller and smaller.

Hang on, the Whitehall kettle/aborted demo in itself was 100,000+, add on the national walkout of perhaps the same number.

Quote:
Edit - Equally, if NCAFC organised a demo now/instead of the NUS one, I would bet anything that they would not have got nearly the numbers of this recent NUS one.

I think this is a rather unfair/uninformed thing to say. NCAFC mobilised almost as many last year as last week with absolutely no resources. The NUS have funding and partnership with a number of political figures and can still only get an embarassing pittance.

mons
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Nov 25 2012 15:51

Fair play, I haven't heard those numbers before. Where do you get them from? I thought that demo (which I was at, and also involved in NCAFC i'm not just being an annoying outsider criticising) had more like 10 000?

I don't think it is unfair. Last year there was a lot more momentum from the movement left over, so organising more people was a lot easier then that it is now. And yet despite that they got, what, 3/4 thousand tops. Compared to 10 000 with a lot less momentum and to fight for this year. So I think we can say pretty definitively say they have more mobilising capacity than NCAFC, and if NUS didn't organise this demo and NCAFC did there would have been even less than in the demo last year, whereas there were more at the one this year than the one last year.

Aflwydd
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Nov 27 2012 13:09

Anyone hear about the NUS leadership attempting to oust a trustee for criticising their demo route on twitter? Even though the police recognised the NCAFC march, apparently endorsing it meant that people were being put in danger. The NUS exec committee is becoming increasingly more Leninist in its lack of accountability and purging of any critics. It's disgusting.

wojtek
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Nov 27 2012 13:17
Quote:
NUS President Liam Burns threatens to remove Edward Bauer as a trustee for suggesting that students ought to deviate from the planned route. LB's letter is here and EB's reply is here.

http://libcom.org/forums/united-kingdom/nus-demo-today-21112012#comment-...

And then he called for unity at the demo:

Quote:
As speakers, introduced by comedian Josie Long, took to the stage, a small group of protesters approached the front chanting: ‘NUS, shame on you, where the f**k you brought us to’. Their chants drowned out applause for the speakers, prompting Mr Burns to attempt to quell the dissent. ‘I've got a message for some of you here today’, he said, to a chorus of boos.
‘When people say that we are not united in picking the right fights, fighting the real enemies in Government rather than among ourselves - well, witness it here.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2236484/Liam-Burns-Huge-student-...

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 27 2012 13:26
mons wrote:
Fair play, I haven't heard those numbers before. Where do you get them from? I thought that demo (which I was at, and also involved in NCAFC i'm not just being an annoying outsider criticising) had more like 10 000?

Well maybe I'm misremembering getting over-excited but there were certainly significantly more than 10,000 at Whitehall and add on the national walkouts which were far more exciting and important.

Quote:
I don't think it is unfair. Last year there was a lot more momentum from the movement left over, so organising more people was a lot easier then that it is now. And yet despite that they got, what, 3/4 thousand tops. Compared to 10 000 with a lot less momentum and to fight for this year. So I think we can say pretty definitively say they have more mobilising capacity than NCAFC, and if NUS didn't organise this demo and NCAFC did there would have been even less than in the demo last year, whereas there were more at the one this year than the one last year.

Right, but, other than being a rather pedantic devil's advocate - and completely ignoring my point about resources (I mean, Peters et al desperately tried to get funding/support for their demo last year and were ignored by most of the established left, unions, etc) - what's your point here? What role do you think the NUS have to play? How should student anarchists relate to them? You seem to be implicitly advocating that they're somehow 'superior' to independen student organising.

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Steven.
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Nov 27 2012 15:10

On numbers, to my recollection the Guardian put figures of around 120,000 on one of the school/university walkouts/days of action.

Aflwydd
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Nov 27 2012 16:17

Ed Bauer survives the motion of no confidence for daring to have an opinion not in line with the NUS exec who ignored a democratic mandate on the demo slogan and have shown that they don't care about the opinions of others.

The NUS needs to be captured by true radicals, not Labourites such as Liam Burns (his 'independence' is tenuous at best). Roll on the next election.

wojtek
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Nov 27 2012 21:29

Humourless PC NUS are humourless and PC

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JoeMaguire
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Nov 28 2012 00:24

Aflwydd, does the NUS really have to be captured?

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Reddebrek
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Nov 28 2012 00:41

"What was supposed to be the biggest UK student march of 2012 ends as a chaotic washout, leaving the future uncertain for Britain's student movement"

Any thoughts?

Aflwydd
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Nov 28 2012 01:16

It certainly needs more radical leadership. I don't know why I used the word 'captured' really, but there are a lot of students who will follow the NUS line, regardless of what it is. If that line happens to be more radical, then that can only help us.

I'm getting more involved in union politics and my best mate is VP of a London University. Some of the bullying and hate directed at anyone who strays left is worrying. One of my friends here had such horrible abuse thrown at him that he could barely face going up to campus. Something's not right.

Harrison
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Nov 28 2012 02:17

lots of students also think the NUS is complete crap and does nothing beyond a discount card and denounce fun stuff like smashing up the tory HQ. if we push it a bit more left, we'd also have to recruit to it, build it, publicly endorse it and therefore strengthen its entrenchment. contradiction much?

wojtek
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Nov 28 2012 03:45
Quote:
I don't know why I used the word 'captured' really, but there are a lot of students who will follow the NUS line, regardless of what it is. If that line happens to be more radical, then that can only help us.

It would only 'help' if one's goal is to empower some sort of vanguard over students themselves and any supposed advance would be temporary as sooner or later someone else would lead members back over to the right.

Aflwydd
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Nov 28 2012 17:06

The goal would be to hopefully democratise the NUS if we could get radicals in positions where differences could be made. At the moment, the NUS executive is determined to attack anyone on the left who dares disagree with them, discrediting movements such as NCAFC and acting as if we are putting students in danger because of our actions.

What are we to do? I don't support a vanguard of course, after all that is the current NUS executive, but the NUS are credible to a lot of students in ways that NCAFC aren't yet. I do think that there are a good number of students who were left disillusioned with the NUS after the demo, but there are also still a lot of supporters for the likes of Liam Burns, who sadly don't realise that he and his executive do not actually support the abolition of tuition fees, being new labourites.

Do we, in a sense, declare war on the NUS itself? Do we play the long game, a long game that isn't going to attract students who are suffering right now? I have massive, massive problems with the NUS, but nobody is yet sure what we should actually do. There was an uncomfortable divide in the protest, magnified at Westminster when the NUS stewards (acted worse than the police all day) ushered people to the bridge while a number of us stood by parliament square. The NUS are clearly trying to create a split between students, painting us as the unreasonable, dangerous, violent minority who will only cause trouble and not help the student cause against the reasonable, realistic social-democrat/new labour types who take a pragmatic and sensible view to the situation.

In my ideal situation, students would realise the bankruptcy of the NUS leadership and their utter failure to bring about any change in our situation, but from what I see at my own university and from the protest, I don't see a lot of people understanding that.

So, what do we do?

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 28 2012 20:40

Start by reading this I guess wink

http://libcom.org/library/unions-introduction

Same critiques apply, probably more so.

Aflwydd
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Nov 28 2012 21:20

We're working towards all those ends. Something like wildcat protests struggle to be effective at universities such as mine where the radical contingent counts for about twenty people (genuinely not exaggerating) and the university is in the middle of nowhere.

Harrison
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Nov 28 2012 23:21

If anything, students (just like workers), don't give a monkeys about their union or the opinions of the people running it. The strategy you are expounding shares a lot in common with the traditional strategy pursued most prominently by the trotskyist currents*, which assumes that the union possesses a kind of social influence upon the interest group it claims to represent, that it doesn't necessarily possess anymore.

we're faced with a far different situation today, which is a britain in which the trade unions may still exist, but they are not centres of working class (or even student) life as they once were. we'd be better off building fresh organs, whatever form these organs take. the question of whether a strategy of semi state-entanglement (legally registered) or disentanglement (unregistered) is pursued, is an entirely different question.

*please excuse me, i am not trying to label you a trotskyist, i understand there are anarchist communist groupings with similar strategy in the trade unions. Its just, i've drawn my understanding of that strategy from trotsky's writings.
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1933/09/unions-britain.htm
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/xx/tu.htm

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Nov 29 2012 00:02

Also, if you're talking about wildcat action, you're talking about students (or workers) breaking out of the boundaries of the unions.

If that's what we're going for or what we're capable of, why are we going through the unions in the first place?

wojtek
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Nov 29 2012 17:17
Quote:
Hey Fellow trustee's,

Really glad I'm still on the NUS Trusteeboard, can't wait for the board social tomorrow night. I've never been to a live Cabaret night before. Listening to hit songs from “London's famous West End musicals such as Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Mama Mia, Chicago” sounds like a great thing to do while we discuss the finances of NUS and if we can afford to spend our resources to help students struggling to pay for their education. Hopefully with the music and the provided four course dinner, we should be able to mull over some of the pressing issues, I'm sure the complementary wine & champagne will help. Combined with the fact that this is all taking place on a night time river cruise of the Thames it should be a productive & fun night.

At some points on the cruise perhaps we might be able to see at a distance some of the more deprived area's in which many students live, which will hopefully keep us in touch with and accountable to the average NUS member. When we go past Canary Wharf we should all get out on deck and do our bit for the cause, we should shout at the out of touch privileged bankers in their skyscrapers, I suggest we use the conference approved slogans like “Tax The Rich” and shake our complementary champagne at them.

This might be even better than some of the fun expensive dinning I got to do as an University of Birmingham Guild of students trustee [ http://www.facebook.com/notes/edward-bauer/letter-to-the-trustee-board-c... ] at the expense of the student movement. There are quite a lot of us on the two NUS trustee boards attending representing the NUS charity services & NUS UK, nearly 30 of us so I might not be able to get around you all but if I don't enjoy the cruise, you may as well it costs thousands of pounds.

Ed Bauer - Can't wait to catch up at the Trustee-board social tomorrow night!

Aflwydd
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Nov 29 2012 17:16

Because there are so few of us. Right now, I would say that there are five of us willing to engage in occupations and other disruptive activities. We'll do it, even if it's just us, but we're as small a minority as you're going to see. I'll report back if we manage to make any headway though.

I'm currently a Union representative as it allows me to find out with more ease the problems that I can help deal with. There are a few on here in similar positions at their workplace. I'm not there to get a start in a politics career though, even if people are pushing for me to go that way. I know more than enough to know how that ends.