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Home » Features, Independence Issue, Viewpoint

Viewpoint – Independence: ‘I was a protest virgin’, Jack said – 2011 London Student Fees Protest

Submitted by on February 6, 2011 – 1:04 pmNo Comment

 

Jack at the protest.

Jack wears a poppy on his jacket and Doc Martens on his feet. “It’s the first time I have worn them” he says, proudly showing-off his brand new boots on the way to the demo. Until September 2010, Jack was living in Loughborough and never had the opportunity to raise his voice on the streets. But Jack is not only here to satisfy his curiosity, if he is protesting today, it’s against the rise of the tuition fees: “It’s wrong to encourage people to get into that much debt”.

Raised by a history teacher mum, Jack’s childhood was marked by daily debates around the dining table. Today, he feels that’s what built his political beliefs. Among the hubbub of slogans, Jack picks up on those targeting the “Lib-demons”. Like many other students, he is one of the deceived Lib-Dem voters of the last general elections: “I am utterly disappointed by Nick Clegg. He promised not to increase the tuition fees and now he’s turning back on that.”

Vince Cable, in charge of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, accountable for all university policies, had signed the NUS (National Union of Students) pledge before the coalition formed. Cable, along with 500 Liberal Democrats (including Nick Clegg), 260 Labour and 16 Conservative candidates stood against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative. Nick Clegg himself addressed the student voters to “use [their] votes to block those unfair tuition fees and get them scrapped once and for all.”

“An entire generation of Lib-Dem voters were betrayed.” Disheartened, Jack’s prognostics on the future of the Lib-Dem party are pessimistic: “I can’t see them attaining power for the next twenty, thirty years”. Recent declarations of Cable added more fuel to the fire: “We didn’t break a promise. We made a commitment in our manifesto, we didn’t win the election. We then entered into a coalition agreement, and it’s the coalition agreement that is binding upon us and which I’m trying to honour.”

But as stated on Lib-Dem candidate Derek Deedman’s website, the NUS pledge “clearly indicated that this would be unconditional, regardless of whether the party was in government or in opposition”.

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