More student protests looming
Police were hoping last night that they had under arrest the protester who threw a fire extinguisher from the top of a building, as officers began identifying those responsible for the violence at a student march in London.
The head of the National Union of Students (NUS) again distanced the organisation from protesters who smashed windows, lit fires and threw missiles from the roof of Millbank Tower, home to Tory Party HQ, on Wednesday. But a senior NUS official backed those arrested yesterday, adding that students should now embark on a campaign of “French-style resistance” against the coalition’s cuts to public spending.
“We have seen what happens in France — why can't we have something like that here?” said Mark Bergfeld, who recently graduated from Essex University. Meanwhile, Nick Clegg yesterday admitted he “should have been more careful” when he signed a pre-election pledge to oppose a rise in tuition fees.
But the Deputy PM said he would not ignore the problem by putting his “head in the sand”.
Student groups are already planning more direct action after attracting 50,000 protesters to Wednesday's march, well in excess of expectations. A series of co-ordinated university sit-ins and mass protests is being planned for later this month by a group, the Education Activist Network.
Ian Bone (63), founder of Class War, branded the student demonstrators “brave and daring”.
He denied the Westminster riot was pre-planned and said anger at Government policy simply spilled over outside Tory headquarters.
Mr Bone questioned the police response, saying he was surprised riot squad officers did not move in and contain the worst troublemakers sooner.
Tory politicians yesterday said NUS officials were seen encouraging the violence unfolding during its march. The claim was denied.
“There is no evidence to back up accusations that NUS stewards did anything to encourage this despicable violence,” said its president Aaron Porter.