Demo 2012: Why you should go to London on 21st November

by Louise Logan

Politics can be a bit tedious, I admit. Watching Newsnight can be a tense affair, and PMQs just looks like loads of posh people guffawing at each other. For a long time, I complacently thought of politics as ‘one of those things I don’t need to start thinking about until I’m about 35’. But in the last few years, with the recession, and the 2010 general election, and as the realities of income tax and sexism started to grate on my consciousness, I realised: ‘Shit. This stuff affects me.’

I like to think I wasn’t too cushioned when I lived at home; my mum was always the first to make me aware that a lot of people have it a lot worse than I do, and she reminds me of that often, but current affairs wise, I’m still catching up. In the back of my mind, I always thought of politics as something someone else would take care of.

It can often seem that politics is an arena of the elite. Even in the left wing parties, you don’t see many ‘ordinary’ people. Many of them have trickled through Oxbridge and filtered down to their seat in the Commons; I’m sure it was Jeremy Hunt who told his old Oxford pal David Cameron he’d ‘see him in parliament’, going on less of a hunch and more a sense of entitlement. But the truth is, we can’t rely on ‘them’ to do it anymore – they messed it up, quite badly. Taking the issue of education cuts as just one example, the Liberal Democrats broke a pledge, the coalition increased tuition fees to £9,000, and then it emerged last week that the government ‘got their figures wrong’ in terms of how much money the education reforms would save.

If the current education cuts continue to go ahead, it’s likely that free tuition in Scotland will soon be a thing of the past (especially after Scottish Labour came out and bashed this generation’s apparent ‘something for nothing culture’). As the cost of a degree continues to rise, and graduates face a future of crippling debt, what kind of imbalances are the coalition cuts going to afflict upon society? If only the privileged can afford a degree, then presumably only the privileged will venture into the top tiers of politics, considering most of today’s politicians went to university.

Of course, we should never lose sight of the fact that we have it pretty good here in the UK. In some parts of the world, people don’t have access to education at all, and in some parts of Pakistan, women do not have the right to education; the Taliban forbids it, and has destroyed several girls’ schools. A few weeks ago, a 15 year old girl named Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head because she stood up for her right to education. She’s currently in intensive care in a UK hospital, and is expected to make a good recovery. When she’s well, she intends to return to her hometown and go to school, despite further death threats from The Taliban.

Luckily, we don’t face such a horrific violation of human rights in the UK. Everyone has the right to be educated, regardless of their gender or their income or their social class, and so the National Union of Students have called for a national demonstration on 22nd November. In an interview with the comedian Josie Long in the November edition of the Strathclyde Telegraph, she talks about her involvement with UK Uncut, and says that even if a protest is fruitless, taking action in itself can be hugely empowering.

Another misconception I had about political debate was that if I disagreed with a decision the government made, I couldn’t really voice my disagreement if I didn’t come up with a suitable alternative; I thought I didn’t really know enough to be involved in any sort of political discourse. Sound familiar? Well, recently, I read an article on the Occupy movement, which said that it’s not our job to come up with the solutions (although obviously, if you have an idea, good on you), and that by simply being there, and being in the way, we act as question marks. Thousands of big question marks descending upon Westminster and forcing the government to consider where they went wrong, why we are there, and what they’re going to do to change.

If Malala can stare in the face of death and still stand up for her right for education, then surely we can make the effort to take to the streets of London, and show the coalition that we’re not going to give up the education of future generations so willingly. So sign up on the USSA website and book your place on one of their buses to London, and hopefully one day you can look back and say, ‘I made a difference’.


To sign up to go to London for Demo 2012, head to It’s a £5 deposit, which you get back if you show up.


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