NCAFC Calls Mobilisation Over Debt: Organise in your area now!

demo

In June, the government announced plans to sell off student debt to private companies. Because there is so much student debt, it is unprofitable to own, so to sweeten the deal, the government is considering upping the repayment rates. This would be the equivalent of a huge and retroactive stealth hike in tuition fees, all in the name of an exclusive, market model of education.

In an open letter, we have explicitly targeted the LibDems and demanded that they rule it out: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/13/nick-clegg-universities-direct-action

NCAFC is calling for national and localised action against the sell-off of the student loan book. On top of direct action, NCAFC will seek to create a new coalition of social movements and trade unions to fight the sale of the student loan book by mobilising students, workers and graduates.

What can you do?
• Call an organising meeting on your campus around October 1st, the day when our deadline for assurances runs out. NCAFC London has already organised one here:http://www.facebook.com/events/168905169966158/
• Plan embarrassing stunts and disruptive direct against your local politicians – Lib Dems and others – if they fail to declare that they are against the debt sale and the Lobbying Bill
• Tell the companies who fund the Lib Dems to stop funding them
• Make sure that you and any organisation you are involved in joins the new coalition against the loan book sale. NCAFC will be calling a meeting in the coming weeks

The Facebook event for this mobilisation is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/212736578888544/

Whatever you get up to, please let us know so we can publicise it, by emailing the NCAFC national committee on [email protected], same goes for if you need help or resources!

NCAFC Solidarity Action With PCS Union Budget Day Strike

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is encouraging students to get involved in the national strike of PCS Trade Union members on Wednesday 20th March (Budget Day), as hundreds of thousands of Civil Service members take action against Government attacks.

Civil Servants in PCS who are overwhelmingly low paid, have had their pay frozen for the past four years, which is the equivalent of a 20% pay cut over that time. In addition, pension contributions have increased, the pensionable age has been raised to 68, and recruitment freezes in many Departments has meant huge understaffing and resulting pressure on existing workers.

The Government is also attempting to remove or erode a raft of terms and conditions for civil service workers (those who work in services such as Tax Offices, Jobcentres, the Home Office, the courts, and many more) that have been fought for and won by the unions over the years, including leave entitlements, sick pay, ability to job share, childcare provision, promotions, and attendance management (i.e. disciplinary procedures over sick absence). For more information on the campaign, please see the PCS website.

The NCAFC supports the PCS strike and the plans it has for upcoming further action including a walkout on the 5th April. NCAFC is encouraging its members to organise solidarity visits from universities, schools and colleges to local picket lines. If you aren’t sure where your local picket line might be, please post a comment below or on our Facebook event and we’ll do our best to find out for you.

There are also Budget Day rallies in many towns and cities. Find out about your local rally here.

We are asking NCAFC activists to sign this statement to show their support. Write your name below and we’ll add you in.

Next Wednesday members of the PCS union which represents 250,000 civil servants and commercial sector workers will be taking industrial action.

They are demanding a 5% pay rise to compensate for the real-term pay cut of the same amount over the past 5 years of civil service pay freezes, an end to the attacks on public-sector pensions and Terms & Conditions and for increased investment in the welfare state.

The government claim they have to continue to cut civil servants’ salaries and pensions in the same way they’re cutting welfare, healthcare and education to pay for the deficit. As student activists we’ve heard this story before and we won’t fall for it.

When they make tax cuts for millionaires, refuse to clamp down on corporate tax evasion and relish in making the top richest people in the country richer to the tune of billions of pounds a year then it’s clear to us that there is the money, but that their priority is to make sure the wrong people get it!

As with previous disputes, the NCAFC extends its solidarity to the strikers on Wednesday and supports the continued campaign PCS members plan to wage against the government’s austerity agenda. We believe that the this agenda, under the guise of ‘tough choices’, represents an attack on working-class people and students the likes of which we have not seen before for a long time. Part of the reason they can get away with what they are doing is down to the fractious and weak reality of the workers movement, and the unambitious and sometimes cynical nature of labour and student movement leaders.

We urge local students anti-cuts groups to visit their local picket-lines (Jobcentres, tax offices, local DVLA sites etc.) and if you are a student in or around London to attend the strike rally 12 noon–2pm at Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament. Bring banners, placards and noise.

Michael Chessum, President of University of London Union, NCAFC NC and NUS NEC
Rosie Huzzard, Sheffield College, PCS DWP Sheffield Branch Young Members Officer and NCAFC NC
Matthew Reuben, Royal Hollway, NCAFC NC
Thais Yanez, Birkbeck, NCAFC NC LGBTQ Officer, Trans* Place
Hannah Webb UCLU Community Officer, UCLU External Affairs and Campaigns Officer elect
Max Crema, Edinburgh University Students’ Association Vice President Services
Edmund Schluessel, NUS Wales NEC
James McAsh Edinburgh University Students’ Association President
Beth Redmond, Liverpool John Moores University, NCAFC NC
Arianna Tassinari, NUS International Students Committee
Liam McNulty, Unison Higher Education, London Young Labour Campaigns Organiser (pc)

Royal Holloway calls for Philip Hammond to resign over homophobic comments

Students protest against Philip Hammond

Last night, Royal Holloway Students’ Union (SURHUL) passed a motion calling for Philip Hammond to resign from his posts as both defence secretary and MP for Runnymede and Weybridge.

The proposers were NCAFC LGBTQ rep Jack Saffery-Rowe and Joe Rayment, who were both present in the meeting in which, among other comments, Mr Hammond said, when asked why two people who love each other shouldn’t get married, replied “Well, we don’t let siblings get married either”.

The motion overwhelmingly passed after half an hour of heated discussion.

Part of the motion called for the motion itself to be proliferated through student and liberation networks. And so, we hereby publish the motion and hope that those who agree with it propose it at their unions. Only through collective action on this can we call Mr Hammond to account on his blatantly homophobic comments made on the 25th January.

 

Motion to call for the resignation of Philip Hammond MP

This Union notes

  1. that Philip Hammond, MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, met with two members of this Union on Friday 25th January ahead of a talk he gave at the university on defence for the Politics and International Relations Society.
  2. that at that meeting he made numerous homophobic arguments against the forthcoming same-sex marriage bill, which will be put before Parliament this month, including comparing the relationship for a same-sex couple with that of two siblings.[1][2]
  3. that when later questioned on whether he said this, he has admitted to doing so.[3]

This Union believes

  1. that any two people who love each other and are committed to each other should be allowed to marry.
  2. that marriage is a right, not a privilege, regardless of sex, race, gender or ability.
  3. that homophobia is never excusable.
  4. that elected officials are in the public eye and so comments like the ones Philip Hammond made are not only appalling in themselves, but moreover promote homophobia in all its forms.

This Union mandates

  1. the President and Vice-President (Communications and Campaigns) to publicly call for the resignation of Philip Hammond. This should be done by:
    1. writing a blog post to be publicized on the website.
    2. publishing this blog in the Union’s media outlets.
    3. to write a letter on this issue to the Prime Minister.
    4. to adapt this motion as a model motion to be sent to other Students’ Unions around the country, using the NUS Jisc email, the NUS Zone and Liberation email lists, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the London Liberation Network, ULU and other student networks.
    5. the Vice-President (Communications and Campaigns) to write to NUS and request that they publish this model motion and an explanation on their website.

 

Proposed: Jack Saffery-Rowe (Campaigns sub-committee)

Seconded: Joe Rayment (Union Chair), Jamie Green (VPComCam), Oli Rushby (Student Trustee), Tom Harris (Academic Affairs Officer), Rose Walker (Campaigns sub-committee)



[1] http://anticuts.com/2013/01/25/philip-hammond-homophobia/

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jan/28/philip-hammond-gay-marriage-incest

[3] On Radio 5Live’s Breakfast show on 31st January http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01q98mj/5_live_Breakfast_31_01_2013/

 

 

Royal Holloway activists confront homophobic minister

Philip-Hammond-protestActivists involved in NCAFC at Royal Holloway have confronted Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, over his comparison of homosexuality to incest.

The story has received a lot of coverage in Pink News, the Guardian and the Telegraph.

NCAFC stands for an education system that is free and accessible to everyone. This isn’t just about money: it’s about a bold, radical new vision of education. To win it, we have to confront and oppose bigots and homophobes on our campuses.

Jack Saffery-Rowe, one of the NCAFC’s LGBTQ reps who ambushed Hammond, said:

“The comments he made on the Tuesday were blatantly homophobic. We felt that as fellow students at Holloway and LGBT activists, we had to take the opportunity to confront him on this issue.

“The comments he made, particularly about comparing the love in a same-sex couple and an incestuous one, showed his true colours.”

For comment and press contacts, email [email protected]

Human rights are “a silly game”, according to defence minister Philip Hammond

Philip HammondTonight, over sixty people took part in an LGBTQ rights protest at Royal Holloway University against the Tory Minister for Defence, Philip Hammond, who is also the local MP for Runnymede and Weybridge. Hammond was giving a talk on his defence policy at the university. Hammond has in recent days made his opposition to same-sex marriage public, and has previously voted against many gay rights bills including the repeal of Section 28.  Present at the protest were activists from NCAFC-affiliate the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance, representatives from the Students’ Union, student societies including Amnesty, Labour and LGBT, local members of the Young Greens, and from Workers’ Liberty, staff members, and a delegation from the neighbouring college’s NUT branch.

When the planned protest gained momentum, the minister’s aides agreed to meet two students to hear the protestors’ grievances. I was one of them and the other was Union Chair Joe Rayment. We questioned Hammond about his opposition to the Same-Sex Marriage Bill, and he responded that the bill would “redefine marriage” and appealed to its ‘tradition’. We responded that marriage, like many civil institutions, had hardly remained static, and that regardless equal rights should trump tradition. Hammond objected to religious groups being forced to marry same-sex couples, ignoring that the bill does not do this – and that religious opinion about same-sex marriage ranges from conservative opposition to support (for example from the Quakers), and has changed over time as well. He claimed that Maria Miller’s ‘quadruple lock’ of exemptions is not “robust enough” – in other words, does not do enough to limit same-sex marriage.

Hammond suggested that civil partnerships were sufficient, and we stated that for many people marriage was an important religious, or cultural, event, and that civil partnerships represented an ‘equal but separate’ divide in the law. As I wormed through his incoherent excuses, his homophobia surfaced. when questioned why I shouldn’t have the same rights as a heterosexual couple, he brushed the question aside as a “silly game” talking about human rights. And when asked why the state should be allowed to say who can and who cannot have their relationship recognized by the law, he retorted that you wouldn’t allow “two siblings who loved each other to get married”. He equated the love of a same-sex couple with incest*. This is the bile that the right-wing of the Tory party are pushing: the Victorian maxim that anything other than love between a man and a woman is as invalid as incest. He then abruptly left our meeting for his talk discussing Britain’s defence strategy and latest arms deals, pausing only to call use juvenile as we refused to shake his hand.

As he did so, he was greeted by protestors’ chants of ‘Gay, straight, black, white: marriage is a civil right’, ‘Hey,( hey), ho, (ho), homophobia’s got to go’, ‘Say it loud, say it clear, bigots are not welcome here’, ‘Unequal rights? We don’t buy it: we remember the Stonewall riots’, and ultimately, ‘Fuck off Philip Hammond, you homophobe’.

We plan to continue the campaign, having a variety of talks, film showing and action-planning meetings arranged for LGBTQ History month, and will visit Hammond’s surgery to continue protesting. NCAFC LGBTQ caucus will publicise and support any action confronting homophobic politicians, and urge you to organise them too.

Jack Saffery-Rowe

LGBTQ rep (open place)

(Demo photos to follow)

*EDIT: This post was written directly after the meeting with Philip Hammond. We were not allowed recording equipment in the meeting itself and so had to jot down what he said directly afterwards; this was complicated further by the mindset I was in directly after Mr Hammond refused to tell me that I shouldn’t be allowed to marry whom I love. When originally writing this I omitted the details concerning Mr Hammond’s comparison of same-sex marriage with incest. Though he did’t use the word ‘incest’ but strongly implied that you wouldn’t let siblings married. Joe asked “What right does the state have to tell two people who love each other that can’t get married.” he replied”Well, you we don’t allow siblings to get married either”.

Guilty of being a sensible and well behaved protestor

On Thursday I was found guilty of being a “sensible and well behaved protestor” at Fortnum and Mason on March 26th. My court case was meant to go on until November 30th. However, the prosecutor’s case collapsed on Monday. Thankfully the swift end of the case gives me a lot more time to take part in the mobilizations for November 23rd   and November 30th.

Despite being found guilty I am incredibly grateful for an excellent defence by committed lawyers who were willing to work on the legal aid that was not granted to all defendants. They managed to cut up a weak prosecution in court. The trouble is in our immensely unjust and bias justice system. Most don’t get access to fair representation and a competent defence.

Perhaps it is true that judges can’t be pressured into convicting, but more often than not they don’t need to. “Hang em high” magistrate can be found all across the court system, convicting without evidence on prejudice. The magistrates’ system is a farce: in September a magistrate sent me to prison for ten days, without being found guilty of anything, before an appeal got me out.  A guard in prison who had worked in the service all his life told me he could “weep with shame” the system was so bad. Fundamentally its existence is the ultimate breech of the right to be trailed by a jury of our peers. The system works, that one man and usually one white man often a volunteer with no legal training is handed the power to convict and sentence on his own prejudices (though in our case, we had a district judge).

At the same time as we have made system that has ample opportunity to create injustice, such the conviction of me and 9 others today. We have stripped away from most the chance of a successful defence. Legal aid has been basically destroyed, I earn £14,400 pounds per annum I have little savings, despite the fact that court costs add up to between £10,000 and £20,000 pounds I don’t qualify for the legal aid. Thankfully a good lawyer wanted to represent me anyway. In prison I met dozens of people who didn’t get a lawyer, who were not granted legal aid and were then sent down by a magistrate.

We are spending millions going after peaceful protestors like myself, the cost of the prosecution, arrest and trial of the Fortnum and Mason protestors will likely come out to be well over £100,000 pounds a similar figure to the costs spent pursuing the peaceful Brighton Ukuncut protestors. Even more is being spent on repressive “total policing”, 4000 officers in a ludicrous operation were on the streets of London for November 9th.

The government is not interested in stopping violent protests but, rather protests themselves. We must start to show more solidarity to all protestors who are being victimised by state authorities. Frank Fernie spent months in Jail for, in anger, throwing a balsa wood stick at a line of full armoured riot police hardly act that showed intent to harm. Did we do enough for him? He was singled out and sent down by a justice system that wants to smother our movement.

Getting a letter in prison from a stranger in solidarity reminds you, you have done nothing wrong that you are there for a reason. Send a letter now to prisoner you can find address here. Don’t get put off of taking direct action, it is after all the only thing that works. We must win and if we want to win we must take risks. Me and the other Fortnum and mason defendants, will see you on the streets and at the next Ukuncut actions

 


National demonstration – 29 January 2011, London

The first parliamentary vote might have gone through, but this is not the end! That is why, in the absence of action by NUS, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts has called a second national demonstration in London, on Saturday 29 January. [Read more...]

Victory as threat of protests cause Lib Dems to abandon conference

London Liberal Democrat MPs were due to hold a conference in London tomorrow, but abandoned their plans when two venues canceled on them for fear of protests organised by the Progressive Students Campaign, and other anti-cuts organisations.

They were due to hold the meeting at the Haverstock school in north London, but the headteacher canceled it when it became clear that student and anti-cuts campaigners planned to protest.

So they moved it to the Royal Horticultural Halls, before realising that protesters had cottoned on – and changed their plans, organising to protest at the new venue instead. The new venue then canceled on them, and the conference has had to be moved to a date in February.

This is a important victory – if we can shut down their conferences before the vote, imagine what will happen on 9 December!

***

Meanwhile…

• A protest at Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams’ office forced him out of his surgery to speak to protesters. He ruled out voting in favour of fees, but angered students by refusing to say whether he would abstain or vote against.
• Leeds Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, has called for the 9 December vote not to be taken saying he “considers that the proposed motion should not be moved as the Government has failed to convince many people that its proposals will be fair and sustainable”.
• Former Lib Dem PR chief Olly Grender said the Liberals’ position on fees was “a real mess and I can’t deny that”
• The annual general meeting of Islington Liberal Democrats voted to write a letter to party leaders to express opposition to fee increases

50,000 students and workers march against fees and cuts

The press is reporting that 50,000 people marched in London today (Wednesday 10 November); anyone who was on the demonstration will tell you that this is a plausible figure. [Read more...]

The case for free education: an NCAFC briefing

We have produced this briefing to help activists win the arguments for free education, and counter the lies told by the bosses and their government about the “need” for cuts in public services.
[Read more...]