The day’s events: Students and activists take to the streets of the capital demanding free education

Student Protest. Pic: Kate Ng

Student Protest. Pic: Kate Ng

  • Thousands of students marched today in support of free higher education and an end to austerity cuts. 
  • Around 5000 students joined the protest organised by The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, The Student Assembly Against Austerity and The Young Greens.  
  • Clashes have been filmed between police and protesters. 

16:49 It look’s as though things are drawing to a close now, and the scuffles on Victoria Street have begun to wind down. Just a small group of protesters are left in Parliament Square dancing and singing as night draws in.

16:27 As daylight starts to fade protesters begin to peel away from Parliament Square. Kirsty Haigh, Vice-president of NUS Scotland, tweets this photo at the scene.

16:19 Update: A spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police has told ELL that there have been no official arrests as yet and there has been an “appropriate”  police response. The Met had previously stated that three officers that experienced minor injuries.

16:07 Protesters throw large blobs of fluorescent paint at The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

16:03 Students get creative with their placards. Here’s one of the best from today:

15:55 Things are getting violent on Victoria Street. Vinnie O’Dowd caught this protestor’s clash with police.

15:50 Be sure to duck if you’re on Victoria Street, paint and stink bombs are being thrown outside Starbucks.

  15:41 Angry breakaway groups have moved the demo outside The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

15:39 The breakaways have started! Hundreds of protestors have moved from the main action in Parliament Square and are heading towards Victoria.

15:19 Russia Today have been streaming the demo live. Protests have been peaceful throughout the day, however RT did catch this bust up between police and demonstrators.

15:12 Diane Abbott MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has spoken to the protestors: “If I had faced thousands of pounds of debt, I wouldn’t have gone to university.”

15:07  Speakers are now turning on the government: “This government is racist, anti-working class and anti-poor… We don’t just need to demonstrate, we need to organise. Organise, organise, organise”.

14:58 Speeches have started in Parliament Square. Protesters say: “We can afford nuclear weapons but we can’t afford universal health care or education? They call it a privilege, we call it a right.”

14:56 Fresh scenes from Westminster, protestors jump barriers on to the grass in Parliament Square.

14:52 Political parties, activists and students are all marching together. Older voices can also be herd. “Parents against debt” reads one placard. 14:49 Scenes from Parliament. Protestors are angry but keeping things peaceful.

14:45 Our reporter Alice Harrold informs us that the march has ended and protestors are now assembled outside Parliament. A strong police presence can be felt with officers and helicopters.

14:39 Protesters are now gathering on the grass of Parliament Square after knocking down barriers. Kate Ng sends this picture.

Students gathered outside Parliament. Pic: Kate Ng

Students gathered outside Parliament. Pic: Kate Ng

14:30  No longer just a student protest,  “Free Shaker AAmer” posters now enter the sea of placards.

14:27  News just in: Paul Nuttall, UKIP Education Spokesman supports the students in their protest. “These students go off to university with no concept of the debt that they will rack up in the following three years and UKIP thinks it is wrong they should be saddled with such a millstone around their necks”

14:18 Masked protestors have now begun pulling down the barriers around Parliament Square. “Whose square? Our square!”

14:16 Kate Ng and Alice Harrold are our eyes on the ground. News rapidly coming in that coloured smoke bombs are going off and the air is becoming        increasingly acrid due to this.

14:12 Protesters are now climbing over fences set up by police with many of their faces being masked by balaclavas and sunglasses. The first clashes break out.

14:05 Downing Street being guarded by just the single line of police as demonstrators make their views about Cameron and Eton quite clear.

14:02 Our reporters are telling me that a lot more colourful language is being used than that. Flares were also on display as he marchers make their way down Whitehall. #FreeEducation student protest march approaching Westminster. — Richard Lister (@RListerNews) November 19, 2014.

13:59 “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the tories on the top, put the Lib Dems in the middle and burn the f***ing lot.” Repeat.

13:55 Protesters are being asked to move on by police outside of a McDonald’s. No force or disorder, just a lot of people causing an obstruction. 13:52 By all concerns, this seems to be a peaceful demonstration. No reports of any violence or wrongdoing.

13:48 “Anti-anti-capitaliste-aiiiiiii” is just one of the catchy chants the students are belting out.

 13:46 They’ve made it as far as LSE!

13:43 By my estimations, student debt could be around £37,500 in just the loans. That’s about the price of 187,500 Freddos. I say about, it’s exactly that many.

13:39 Maisy Snyder reckons her daughter’s student debt will be higher than the price of her first house. What else could you buy for the price of a student debt?

 13:36 Reports estimating the student protest could be as many as 8000-strong but we can’t confirm this in any way. If this estimate is accurate, that’s a an impressive turnout for any cause.

13:30 People are seemingly against the Academies in Lewisham. I wonder if that’s high on the minds of the marchers today?

13:23 #FreeEducation seems to be the go-to hashtag for the demonstrations today. You can keep up with all of our own coverage with #ELLstudentdemo and tweet all your pictures or 140 characters of support to us.

13:20 The NUS controversially withdrew support from the protest last week. It seems that some of them haven’t taken too kindly to this news…

13:10  The Guardian are estimating a near 5,000 supporters marching in the protest today. As well as the obligatory police presence and a helicopter for good measure, too.

13:08 And we’re off! Welcome to our live blog on today’s student protests. If you aren’t aware why they’re protesting, you can read up on it here. You’ll find snippets of vitriol from people like Beth Redmond, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts who are part of the demonstrations, “Four years on from the election of the Coalition, it is clear that fees have failed. Whole areas of higher and further education are now off limits to anyone without rich parents, and education workers are being squeezed, sacked and outsourced.” Strong words.


Live Blog by Alex Taylor and Alex Sims

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