A huge demonstration of students and their supporters in London last week–twice as large as organizers had hoped for–rocked British politics as the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government faced the strongest act of defiance yet against its program of austerity.
The protest was called by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union against the government’s plan to nearly triple student fees to $14,500 a year, while slashing university teaching budgets by 40 percent. But protesters were raising their voices on many other issues as well.
During a march through central London, hundreds of students spontaneously forced their way into the Conservative Party headquarters and occupied it for several hours. Predictably, the media portrayed the demonstrators as a small handful ‘bent on violence,’ but those who participated saw the occupation as a form of direct action against the much greater economic and social violence being planned by the government.
Journalist Laurie Penny, who writes a blog for the New Statesman, was on the scene of the protest and wrote this description of what took place.