Published: 10th December, 2010
by PETER GRUNER
UP to 200 students waved banners and chanted slogans as they marched through Islington yesterday (Thursday) as part of a national protest against the increase in tuition fees.
The protest – in the wake of confrontations between students and police in Parliament Square – was led by Islington Council leader Labour councillor Catherine West who told the demonstrators: “For the sake of generations of students and their parents we have to fight these cutbacks.”
The students, who were joined by their lecturers, assembled on the steps of City and Islington College in Camden Road under a huge banner of the college union UCU.
From there they walked 10 abreast in the bus lane along Holloway Road to London Met University where more joined the march.
Crowds of shoppers in Upper Street later applauded the protesters along the route and many people joined the march as it passed Islington Town Hall and Islington Green.
One onlooker, George Durack, 86, chairman of the Islington Pensioners Forum based in Upper Street, said the students were a credit to the community.
A former Islington Labour councillor, Mr Durack said the coalition government never expected the students would fight so vociferously against higher fees. “We should be grateful to these young people,” he said. “Up until now I didn’t think they had any life in them. Now they have shown that they are political and care about their future.”
He was appalled, he added, at some of the police tactics at the main demonstration, including “kettling “of the protesters for hours at a time. “It was wrong to corral young kids of 15 or 16,” he said. “Their parents were very worried and disturbed about it.” He called on pensioners to be in solidarity with the students. “The young have shown the way. And I’ll tell you one more thing. If this government tries to take away our Freedom Pass there will be more riots on the streets. I’m really sorry if people have been injured, whether they are police or demonstrators.”
A number of teachers at Islington Sixth Form Centre in Goswell Road, Angel joined students on the march against tuition fee increases yesterday.
On Wednesday the centre was closed to prevent a protest occupation after college authorities got wind of the idea.