Tony Benn: Unions and young people should fight “brutally unfair” cuts together

Tony Benn. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tony Benn has called for solidarity between young people and the unions in the fight against cuts to higher education and public funding.

Speaking at an anti-cuts event at Goldsmiths college last night in Lewisham, the veteran socialist and campaigner said he had never known a time in his life where the public have “as much anger as now.” He called the proposed cuts “brutally unfair”.

But he stressed the only way the “battle” can be won is if young people and the unions support each other.

Referring to the protests at Millbank and Whitehall, Mr Benn said: “Nobody wants a punch-up with the police […] but this is an education campaign there is a need to inform people what is really happening and if that is the spirit of the campaign then I’m sure it will have a profound affect on public opinion.”

Jack Jordon, a 15-year-old pupil from Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in New Cross, who helped to organise a walkout from the college on Wednesday, was another who spoke at the event: “A whole generation has been politicised, people who wouldn’t have thought about it before are now involved because of the government’s actions.”

Other speakers at the event, organised by the Goldsmiths branch of the University and College lecturers union (UCU), included James Haywood, campaigns and communications officer at Goldsmiths Student Union, who was arrested at the Millbank protest. He called the police tactics at Whitehall on Wednesday “disgusting”.

“How dare they contain people like that, it is collective punishment,” he added.

Des Freedman, a lecturer at Goldsmiths and secretary of its UCU branch, said that support must be given to future student walkouts when the issue of tuition fees is brought before parliament.

There is a further day of action planned by students across the UK on November 30.

Interview by Phillip Saunders. Produced by Adrian Pablo, Maria Arteaga and Kellie O

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