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Disobedience is man’s original virtue

Submitted by on January 31, 2011 – 9:32 am3 Comments

AFL and FC United were well represented at Saturday’s protest march against the Tory government’s education cuts in Manchester City Centre. The peaceful event saw around 3,500 march from town to Platt Fields for a rally.

It was a tame affair with several white, middle class, 40-something ex-students shouting rhetoric from the stage in the fields as Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd did his best to dodge eggs thrown from the crowd. Student union bosses got stick for criticising the protests in London recently and several lecturers who spoke were drowned out by students chanting ‘strike, strike, strike’, regarding the lack of co-ordinated action from those who are indirectly paid by the students’ tuition fees.

The turn out, overall, was slightly disappointing and there were several factors for that. Not least the daft decision to hold the rally at Platt Fields and march OUT of town. Surely the march should have started near the universities and ended in central Manchester, where a rally should have been held in Albert Square or Piccadilly Gardens? Albert Square should have been a focal point following the news that 2,000 council jobs are to be cut. Poor organisation has long dogged movements like this.

But this was just a start and it was focussed around student tuition fees, not the cuts in general (although it should have been). Hopefully momentum will build and the working class majority of our city will become involved to a greater degree. It was good to see several reds join in the march after FC United’s game at Frickley was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

It came as a surprise to hear on the news later that there had been 20 arrests in the city centre. The police made as much of it as they could in order to discredit the protesters and to put people off any such future action. For example, take this fantastic quote from today’s Chadderton Evening Chronicle: “GMP claim their surveillance squad learned during the march that a small number of protesters were carrying knives. No such weapons were recovered.” Roughly translated as ‘no protesters had knives but we thought we’d tell the press they might’.

We’re fighting a system that uses misinformation as fact and one that uses shoppers as the moral compass to describe ‘public terror’. Far more intimidating than a load of students with towels over their faces was the sight of thousands of riot cops standing idly by as they lapped up the overtime.

Attention now turns to the national protest in London on Saturday, March 26th. This will surely be a better organised event with solutions to match the rhetoric. Get on it.

3 Comments »

  • midjmo says:

    An update on the arrests from Saturday reveals that of the 20 people nicked, only one has been charged with anything at all and that is for the crime of the carefully titled ‘using threatening words and behaviour’.

    Draw your own conclusions…

    From the Chaddy Chron:

    Police have issued fines to 13 men who were arrested during disturbances in Manchester on Saturday following a march against government cuts to education.

    A total of 20 arrests were made after officers clashed with a breakaway group of around 200 protesters in the city centre.

    Of these, eleven men – aged between 17 and 33 – have been given £80 fixed penalty notices for public order offences.

    Two other men were fined – a 21-year-old man was fined for obstructing a public highway and a 17-year-old youth was fined for obstructing police.

    An 18-year-old man was cautioned for obstructing police and a 21-year-old man was cautioned for a public order offence.

    Three other men, who were arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace, were released without charge.

    A 36-year-old man, arrested on suspicion of disorder, has been bailed pending further inquiries.

    Only one of the 20 arrested men has been formally charged with an offence. Mark Kellman, 26, of no fixed abode, was charged with using threatening words and behaviour and he is due before magistrates on Tuesday.

    The arrests were made after a rally organised by the NUS and trade unions in Platt Fields Park. Around 3,500 people joined a peaceful march to the rally on Saturday morning but a group broke away and ran through the streets of central Manchester as the rally drew to a close.

    Two police officers were slightly injured during the operation.

  • Kdog says:

    By constantly referring to the MEN as the Chadderton Evening Chronicle/Yonnicle you give the impression that the paper is some smalltown rag produced by Bolton and Man City worshipping dipshits, read by out of town hicks, owned by scumbags and edited by an extra from Deliverance and… sorry… where was I going with this?

  • midjmo says:

    Free pull out Chronicle with the next issue of A Fine Lung. More details to follow.

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