Manchester/London: Thousands Of Students March With Unions Against Government Cuts: UPDATED

29 Jan

LATEST NEWS UPDATE:

Police arrested at least 16 people after angry students rampaged in the centre of Manchester during a day of nationwide protest at the coalition’s spending cuts.

Live Blog: Police Arrest 14 At Cuts Rally Play video
 
Around 80 protesters were “kettled” by scores of officers in the heart of the city as startled shoppers looked on.

They had broken away from the main rally in the city, staged to coincide with another huge demonstration in London.

Both protests had started with little indication of the violence seen during the rallies last year.

But the Manchester demonstration descended into violence when a minority broke through police lines and headed for the city centre.

They were chased by mounted police as they ran through the streets. Protesters, some wearing balaclavas, wrestled with police on the ground.

Protesters also attacked high street shops, demanding outside Top Man, Vodafone and Next “pay your taxes”.

Greater Manchester Police said a “small group” were disrupting businesses and putting “themselves and others at risk”.

Earlier in Manchester, students, lecturers and unions had been out in force to hear claims that the Government was “betraying” an entire generation.

Unions had led the charge there – with the TUC, Unite, the National Union of Teachers and the National Union of Students joining forces.

TUC chief Kay Carberry told the rally young people should not be paying for the Government’s “reckless gamble” with the economy.

Emma Bates, 17, was among the crowds and said: “We are not going to take all these Government cuts lying down. The only way of doing that is by protesting.”

But Aaron Porter, the president of the National Union of Students, had to be given a police escort after he too became a target.

Demonstrators had surrounded him, chanting anti-Semitic insults and calling for him to resign as he attended the rally.

Missiles, including eggs and oranges, had earlier been thrown on stage at NUS vice president Shane Chowen.

At the simultaneous protest in London, there were also scuffles as a group ran towards Millbank Tower – which was ransacked last year.

Scotland Yard said four arrests were made during the course of the protest.

Three people were held on suspicion of criminal damage, while another was detained on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

The protest was generally peaceful with students chanting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” as they marched to Parliament.

The coalition’s move to hike tuition fees and scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance has provoked fury.

One slogan being brandished in London drew an analogy between international events and the UK, declaring: “Ben Ali, Mubarak… Cameron, you are next.”

As marchers weaved their way through the streets, a group at the front started chanting: “Revolution, revolution.”

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said the Government respected the right to lawful and peaceful protest.

But he added that the coalition’s changes would make the tuition fee system fairer and “put students in the driving seat”.

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LATEST NEWS UPDATE:

The president of the National Union of Students pulled out of speaking at a public anti-cuts rally after he was surrounded by demonstrators who called for his resignation.

Protesters target NUS president Enlarge photo

Aaron Porter was due to address the rally about the effects of spending cuts on young people but was forced to step down after he needed a police escort of a dozen officers to the students’ union building at Manchester Metropolitan University. An angry group of around 150 people followed as they unsuccessfully attempted to gain entry into the site.

Around 4,000 protesters later gathered peacefully in Manchester’s Platt Fields Park to hear claims from union leaders that the Government was “betraying” an entire generation, but a total of 16 arrests were made as a splinter group of a few hundred later marched to the city centre.

Police said the breakaway group was intent on inciting violence and causing damage as intelligence suggested a number were armed with chef’s knives and razor blades.

Assistant Chief Constable Neil Wain said the rally organisers had dissociated themselves from the city centre unrest and said they were nothing to do with the organised demonstrators.

Earlier, Mr Porter was subjected to chants of: “Students, workers, hear our shout! We want Aaron Porter out!” and “Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a f****** Tory too!” It was reported that a chant of “Tory Jew scum” was also aimed at Mr Porter.

When the rally got under way, missiles – including eggs and oranges – were thrown on stage at Shane Chowen, NUS vice president for further education. He quickly left the platform to a chorus of boos from sections of the crowd when he told them: “The majority of students are behind the NUS and UCU (University and College Union). We are fighting on your behalf.”

A few hundred young protesters drifted away though before the end of the rally and headed back in the direction of where the march had started near the university. Around 100 campaigners then darted into a packed Arndale Centre where most stores inside were open. Staff at Top Man and Vodafone managed to get their shutters down as protesters stopped and screamed: “Pay your taxes!”

A number of the campaigners were arrested and bundled into police vans. Around 100 protesters were later contained by police on Deansgate near to the Hilton Hotel.

Thousands of students also gathered in central London to protest against Government cuts and university fee hikes.

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Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Manchester and London to protest against government plans to increase tuition fees and scrap education grants.

Students protest with unions against cuts Enlarge photo

These were the first major demonstrations since late last year, when students occupied Parliament Square in London and attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall.

The latest protests were largely peaceful events.

Reports suggest that six people were arrested in Manchester after a minor scuffle and Scotland Yard confirmed that there were four arrests in London. Three of these were for criminal damage, with one for assaulting a police officer.

In Manchester some of Britain’s biggest trade unions joined students, as anger about the Conservative-led coalition government’s austerity cuts increased.

The coalition government plans to cut £2.9 billion of state support a year for universities in order to tackle a budget deficit now at about 11 percent of national output following the global financial crisis.

The government says the higher student fees will be fairer than the present system, and that it will give poorer students more financial support. Although, students do not agree. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University College Union (UCU), told protestors that the Conservative-led coalition’s cuts target young people unfairly.

“From sacking lollipop ladies and closing youth clubs, to axing college grants and trebling tuition fees, this is a government at war with our young people and therefore at war with our future,” Hunt said.

Police are seen as protesters march during ...

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