Millbank student protest

Violence and Legitimacy

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Pat Stack argues that the media frenzy about direct action at recent student protests is based on the assumption that state violence is legitimate - and that we don't have the right to win


Photo: Geoff Dexter

When Edward Woollard was sentenced to 32 months in prison for throwing a fire extinguisher from the roof of Tory HQ at a student protest, there was no doubt that the British state was making an example of him to warn off student protesters.

A Generation in Revolt

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For years we have been told that today's students are apathetic. Dave Sewell argues that the "Day X" demonstrations marked the birth of a new student movement.


Image: Loki English

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven."

So the poet Wordsworth hailed the French Revolution of 1789. In 1968 Paris activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit said of 10 May, the night of the barricades:

Full force of hypocrisy

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"Things got out of hand and we'd had a few drinks," said David Cameron back in 1986, speaking about his time in Oxford. "We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets."

Just as well for him that the "full force of the law" didn't come down on him, as he demanded it did on students who smashed things up to save education from the Tory cuts.

Student Protest Ignites the Fight

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It will take some time for us to judge the full meaning of the 10 November demonstration accurately. But it is worth reflecting on how it has changed the dynamics of both the student movement and the labour movement at large.


Photo: Geoff Dexter

The demonstration saw over 50,000 people march in an inspiring show of strength through London. This was not only the largest demonstration about education since 1987 but it also ended with an explosion of anger when thousands broke away from the central march to bring their anger to the doorstep of the Tory party headquarters at 30 Millbank.

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