Student tuition fee protest breaks into Conservative HQ

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Student tuition fee protest breaks into Conservative HQ

Post by GD on Wed 10 Nov 2010, 6:28 pm

There have been violent scenes as tens of thousands of people protested against plans to treble tuition fees and cut university funding in England.
Demonstrators stormed a building in Westminster housing the Conservative Party head quarters, smashed windows and got on to the roof.
Outside, a crowd of thousands surged as placards and banners were set on fire and missiles were thrown.
Student leaders condemned the violence as "despicable".
They say about 50,000 people took part in a march through Westminster earlier.
A stand-off is still taking place between demonstrators and the police, with protesters surging forward at 30 Millbank, chanting.
AT THE SCENE


Mike Sargeant, BBC Political Correspondent
The police seem to have a measure of control over the building now. The line of riot police is holding firm and stopping anyone else from entering the building. It still seems there are some protesters on the roof and in other parts of the building.
Some of the students are dispersing, but in the last hour people have been turning up who are not necessarily part of the original protest. They're wearing hoods covering their faces, and arriving with cricket bats and other improvised weapons.
It's calmer than it was, but objects are still being thrown, and there are hundreds if not thousands of students observing events.
The police presence in the building has certainly increased, and they're better equipped, with helmets and riot shields, than they were initially.


According to Scotland Yard, 10 people have been taken to hospitals in London for treatment - including three police officers. None was seriously injured.
The vast majority of demonstrators had been peaceful, a statement said, but "a small minority" had damaged property.
At one point, a fire extinguisher was reported to have been thrown from the roof.
BBC News correspondent Mike Sergeant is at the scene.
He said protesters on the roof had thrown liquids down and a female police officer had been injured.
At 1700 GMT he said the police had "largely taken control" of the building; he had seen some protesters escorted out by officers and the crowds outside were gradually dispersing.
"The police have largely established control of the building. They are gradually moving the crowd back, perhaps a metre every minute." he said.
Students shouted: "No ifs, no buts, no education cuts" as the line of riot police pushed them backwards into the street.Angry
One of the protesters who got on to the roof was Manchester student Emily Parks.
She said she had no regrets.
"It shows how angry people are," she told BBC News.
"Why is our education being cut? Why are tuition fees going up here when in other parts people have free education?
"People have felt the need to take matters into their own hands."
Demonstrators were also cleared from outside the Liberal Democrat headquarters, where a car window has been smashed.
Elsewhere, the massive rally had passed off peacefully.
Hundreds of coach loads of students and lecturers had travelled to London from across England for the demonstration in Whitehall, with 2,000 students also travelling from Wales.
President of the National Union of Students Aaron Porter condemned the violence as "despicable".
"This was not part of our plan," he said.
"This action was by others who have come out and used this opportunity to hijack a peaceful protest." Police in riot helmets formed a line to keep protesters out of the building

The NUS is threatening to try to unseat Liberal Democrat MPs who go back on pre-election pledges they made to oppose any rise in tuition fees.
Higher education funding is being cut by 40% - with teaching grants being all but wiped out except for science and maths.
The government expects the costs of teaching other courses to be funded by tuition fees.
It proposes that tuition fees should rise from 2012.
The plan is for a lower cap at 6,000, with universities able to charge up to 9,000 - triple the current cap - in "exceptional circumstances".
Ministers insist their plans offer a "fair deal for students".Question Time clash
Earlier on Wednesday, at Question Time in the Commons, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had a fiery exchange with Labour's Harriet Harman over fees.


He was accused of hypocrisy, because the Liberal Democrats opposed tuition fees in the run-up to the election.
But he said Labour had brought in tuition fees - and had no policy on university funding.
Ms Harman said Nick Clegg was "going along with a Tory plan - to shove the cost of higher education on to students and their families".
Twice, she asked him to specify the size of the cut to university teaching grants - a figure she said was 80%.
But Mr Clegg did not say - and instead attacked Labour's record on fees.
"Against fees in 1997 - introduced a few months later; against in manifesto in 2001 - introduced top up fees," he said.
NUS president Aaron Porter says students will attempt to force a by-election in the constituencies of MPs who renege on a pre-election pledge to oppose any hike.
He said: "We will initiate a right to recall against any MP that breaks their pledge on tuition fees."
In a speech in June, the deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the coalition would bring in a right for voters to re-call their MP and force a by-election if he or she was found to have been engaged in "serious wrong-doing". (from BBC)


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