Year 2000 No. 195, November 16, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Successful Student Demonstration: Grants Not Fees
The Israeli State Must Stop Its Brutality and End the Occupation of Palestinian Territory
News In Brief
University Lecturers Threaten to Strike
Teachers Angry as Richer Schools Forge Ahead
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An estimated 25,000 students demonstrated through the streets of London yesterday, ending with a rally in Kennington Park, uniting around the demand "Grants Not Fees!". It was the biggest student march for a decade.
There was an optimistic and militant spirit amongst the students indicating that the student body is well on the move on this issue.
Coaches had brought students from the length and breadth of England to take part, as well as many militant and united contingents from universities in Wales.
The students marched noisily and in good heart. Several sections danced away from the main march to take their own chosen routes through the London streets, to the bemusement of the police. Around 300 demonstrated at the Parliament buildings, while Waterloo Bridge was the scene of a number of sit-down protests as students occupied the thoroughfare. The march lasted four hours in all, and coaches from as far afield as the North-East of England were arriving well after the head of the demonstration had set off punctually from outside the University of London Union in Malet Street
At Kennington Park, the students heard a number of speakers support their cause, including the London Mayor Ken Livingston. Although Ken Livingstons emphasis was to urge the students to influence the Labour Party in the run-up to the next election, the sentiment of the students was receptive to the proposition that it is the students who must organise themselves to take care of the future and build a society where the right to education is guaranteed for all, and all measures which promote education as a privilege are outlawed.
Other events took place during the day, such as a meeting organised by the Campaign for Free Education, and a concert at the Brixton Academy in the evening.
Hundreds of copies of WDIE were distributed in the midst of the march, with its call "Grants Not Fees Winning Together".
The demonstration showed that the movement of the youth and students is being consolidated around the principle Education is a Right, Not a Privilege!
In pre-dawn raids today, Israeli helicopters in four raids have attack targets associated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafats Fatah movement. The rocket attacks come a day after the day which the Palestinian people mark as their independence anniversary, November 15, declared 12 years ago. The Israeli forces on Wednesday shot dead eight Palestinian protesters in bloody clashes.
WDIE condemns the continuing Israeli violence against the Palestinian people. Since September 28 over 230 people have been killed and over 1,000 injured in the occupied territories, the vast majority of them Palestinian civilians, most of them youth. They have been victims of the brutal violence of the Israeli state which has deployed helicopters, tanks and full military force against the civilian population. Accompanying the violence of the Israeli state is a massive disinformation campaign from the US and the monopoly media, that the problem is "violence from both sides".
The solution to the problems in the Middle East will only be found when the people of the region are permitted to settle their own affairs. The interference of the imperialist powers must end, particularly the full support by US imperialism to the aggression and violence of the Israeli state, while it masquerades as the "peace broker". The disinformation campaign of the imperialist powers claims that the problem in the Middle East is of terrorism and that the solution lies in the violent suppression of the Palestinians and others who oppose the Israeli occupation. The aim of this disinformation is to block the path to progress and justify the continuing escalation of Israeli state terrorism against the people.
Israel has not lived up to any of the important negotiated agreements or United Nations resolutions, for example, UN Security Council Resolution 1322 which calls on the Israeli government to not attack Palestinian protesters. Instead, Israel carries on its practice of taking over Arab lands and then violently suppressing the resistance of the Palestinian people.
Israel must get out of Arab lands and all the imperialist powers must stop interfering in the affairs of the peoples of the Middle East. Only on this basis can the peoples of the region provide a peaceful solution. The working class and all democratic and peace-loving people must the imperialist propaganda that "both sides are to blame" and stand firmly with the Palestinian people and all the peoples of the region who want peace. It should not be forgotten that the British colonialists were one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Israeli state. The British working class and people must demand that the British government end its interference in the Middle East under the guise of being an "honest broker" of the peace process, while refusing to condemn Israel for being the perpetrator of the brutal suppression of the Palestinian people.
University lecturers are set to strike next month as part of a long-running dispute over pay. A one-day stoppage is planned for December 5. An escalating series of stoppages and other actions is planned if vice-chancellors refuse to agree to the lecturers demands. The results of a NATFHE ballot is due on November 21.
Tom Wilson, head of universities at NATFHE, said: "It really is a scandal that cleaners and porters in universities are the poorest paid public servants. It is ridiculous to try to recruit researchers on £10,700 a year, which is the bottom of our pay scale. You cant get anybody for that."
Meanwhile, other lecturers are finding that they are being told to reapply for their jobs, with activists being failed in the reselection process.
Teachers have accused the government of sowing divisions between schools after league tables showed those that get extra cash are pulling ahead. While the government is claiming this as a great achievement, teachers have pointed out that what it shows is that if the resources are made available and investment made in education, then the children will inevitably benefit. However, it is unjust that only some schools in the "Excellence in Cities" programme should be singled out for this treatment.
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