Students broke into the conservative headquarters yesterday afternoon as a national demonstration turned riotous.
52,000 students were demonstrating against the government’s decision to raise caps on university fees. What started off as a peaceful demonstration turned into chaos when a group of rebel protesters broke into the Conservative Headquarters near the final destination of the Tate Gallery.
The NUS president, Aaron Porter, told the morning’s student media press conference that he was confident that violence would not break out because otherwise it would be detrimental to the aim of the demonstration.
However, a small group of rebels congregated around the Milbank building, before breaking in. The glass front of the Headquarters was torn down as the students broke in, before covering the walls in graffiti, smashing other windows further up the building and standing on the roof setting off fire extinguishers and throwing toilet rolls, banana skins and news papers into the crowds below.
A fire continued to burn in the middle of the crowds while crowds chanted “Tory scum” and threw their placards onto it. Riot police were sent in to control the situation and barricade the front of the building to prevent others from entering.
When Porter heard the news that hundreds of protesters had congregated around the Milbank situated, Tory HQ, and vandalised the property, he was devastated and told us that he would now have to work extremely hard in order to gain back respect from the government, and to rethink his strategy in tackling the controversial issue.
He wanted to make it clear that he was certain this was not the work of students, but other members of the public who had been caught up in the protest and just wanted to cause trouble.
The London college students who had climbed to the roof of the building said that they realised it may not have been the right thing to do but felt so strongly about the situation which is making them reconsider higher education.
The coalition government wants to raise the cap on university fees to as much as £9,000 in some institutions. The current charge sits at £3,225 and has already created a decrease in the number of people entering higher education since it was raised in 2006.
There are fears that this increase will deter people from considering higher education and in yesterday’s demonstration there was a strong agreement that it is unjustified to introduce such high fees for prospective students in when the government is struggling to rebuild our economy. The NUS president said that creating deterrence to young people from continuing education is not the way forward when we are reliant on the younger generations to continue our country and enter careers which will help economic stability and the country’s competition.
The national demonstration, which is thought to have been the largest protest since the Iraq War protests in 2003 and the biggest student demo in a generation, kicked off the national strategy that would continue throughout the constituencies in order to persuade the government against education cuts.