Militant action needed to save Free Education
Kick out Blairite traitors from NUS leadership!
Recently, the House of Lords voted against the Government's plans to scrap university grants. One day later nearly two million students across the country walked out of lessons, demonstrated and joined picket lines to show the government exactly how prepared we are to fight these measures that will carve out working class, black, Asian and women students from higher education. The government is obviously scared and has been feeling under pressure to offer some concessions. But if Blair and Blunkett get their way, we will still have to pay fees and will not get a grant.
Considering the anger of millions of students, the unpopularity of the Labour Government's cuts in public spending and the revolt of the Lords it is remarkable that we have not already achieved a victory. The biggest obstacle for our struggles has been the leaders of the NUS. These Blairite careerists have openly campaigned for the abolition of grants and carried out the most mealy-mouthed opposition to the introduction of fees. It says something about how useless these highly paid bureaucrats are at representing ordinary students when a load of unelected Lords take a firmer stand on student grants than our own leaders!
These servants of the Labour Government must be driven out of power in our union now. At this NUS conference, the Movement for Justice will vote for United for free education candidates for all the leading positions. We will also be standing Kingsway President, Victor Ajibola, for an executive position. Every student here today must ensure their delegates vote for these candidates so we can have a NUS that will fight for us, not for a cost-cutting government.
But whoever leads our union, the real battle will be won on the streets, through occupations and militant demonstrations at universities and colleges and bringing our anger outside Downing Street and Parliament! The sort of militant action French and German students have carried out, and more recently the rioting and burning of shops by students in Kenya fighting loans, show that it is only action that threatens the very establishment bent on making cuts that can force the climbdown we need to live and study.
The Movement for Justice supports the call for a national demonstration in the third term and calls on Student Unions and organisations to call an emergency demonstration at parliament on the day the bill will be discussed.
Racism is the cutting edge of attempts by the defenders of wealth, privilege and profit to keep their power by dividing those who they exploit and oppress. Racists in the courts, in police uniforms and in fascist gangs have gone unchecked because of the lack of an effective militant anti-racist movement.
The Immigration and Asylum Act passed by the last government and maintained by the present one was a racist attack on some of the most vulnerable sections of society as a preparation for much deeper attacks on benefits and welfare rights. The Movement for Justice fought for action against this unjust law from the moment it was announced, campaigning for collective non-co-operation. We have continued to fight against all aspects of racism and repression, including deaths in police custody, racist police harassment, increased police powers of repression such as the introduction of CS Spray, deportations, the detention of asylum seekers, and the continued imprisonment of innocent victims of police racism like Winston Silcott and the M25 Three.
We fight for collective worker/youth/community action against racism and injustice. Our society is becoming increasingly unjust. The Blair government's cosying up to business tycoons and its attacks on the poor, the unemployed, students etc. are leading to worse injustice. The fight against racism and every form of oppression and injustice is central to building a united struggle against cuts, unemployment and poverty.
The attacks on free education will principally fall on poor and working class youth. Inevitably that means that black, Asian and women students will suffer the most. Racism, sexism and class distinction will increase. That is why it is in the interests of everyone fighting these attacks to build a militant, integrated struggle against racism and sexism.
This is the strategy the Movement for Justice fights for in colleges and schools, in trade unions, and in local communities. Get involved, get organised - Join us today.
The racist Immigration and Asylum Act introduced by the Conservative government and widened by Labour (deportations have increased since the election!), has forced thousands of asylum seekers in to a life of poverty with no benefits. Student Unions must build action against the Asylum Act, defending students right to stay in college even when their benefits are cut and building anti-deportation campaigns. The Sengul family are a family of eight, Four are students at Kingsway College, one a student at South Camden Community School and the Youngest is at Duncombe Primary School.
The Sengul Family are Kurdish and fled from persecution in Northern Cyprus (Occupied by Turkey - well known for its brutal treatment of Kurdish people). If they are deported, the family will be destroyed. In 1997, Denktash, the president of North Cyprus, said that all those who sought asylum in Britain are traitors. It is clear that the family will be badly treated if they are returned. Their father faces certain arrest.
Resul Sengul (student at Kingsway) describes his and his siblings treatment at college "In 1994, when I was a student at college, Nationalist students attacked us with metal rods. My arm was badly broken. I went to hospital but was not treated properly as they knew I was Kurdish". Every member of the family still bears scars of the physical abuse they faced.
The campaign already has the support of a number of Unions and organisations. We have held two very successful demonstrations with many students from London colleges getting involved.
Our Current leadership has completely sold us down the river. More interested in their careers as future Labour MP's than in fighting for student rights. This conference must be a turning point for NUS, starting to organise ordinary students in to action. To do this we need an executive with a history of commitment to student struggle, accountable and committed to free education. Victor Ajibola is all these things, president of Kingsway College Student Union, he has led a campaign against cuts in the college and attacks on the student union.
Victor is a member of NUS black students committee and has taken an active role in both Campaign for Free Education and Save Free Education. Victor is committed to build a united fight to defend free education. Victor is one of the few black students standing for the NUS National Executive this year. It is vital that both black and FE students are represented in NUS. Victor has fought tirelessly against racism, police brutality and the Asylum Act.
NUS National Conference Bulletin 30 March 1998