(London, United Kingdom) – Students and police fought a running battle through the streets of Central London this afternoon, with dozens of arrests made. The angry young radicals were there to demand free further education, open borders and an end to “Tory Britain.”
Around a thousand students turned up outside Parliament at midday, shouting, “Tory scum, here we come!” and “No borders, no nations, free education! No borders, no nations, stop deportations!”
John McDonnell, Labour’s hard left Shadow Chancellor, addressed the crowd: “This government is betraying you and future generations and I’m here in solidarity for education. Let me say this: your voice needs to be heard!” he said.
Adding: “This will be a peaceful demonstration, and safe, but make sure the Tories know that we are not going to stand for this any more.”
However, shortly after his speech the protest descended into violence. There was an intense stand off on Great George and Victoria Streets near Parliament between an anarchist faction and the police just after 1pm, with around twelve 12 arrests made.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement:
“Shortly after 15:10hrs today, Wednesday, 4 November, a small group of protesters threw paint outside the Home Office and another group attempted to push their way into the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BiS) building but were prevented by police.
“During this spell, a small number of smoke bombs and eggs were thrown at police outside BIS.
“A cordon was put in place across Victoria Street at the junction with Dacre Street, SW1 to prevent disorder. There was no containment in place.
“Officers have made a number of arrests for public order offences.”
Following the initial confrontation, things calmed down slightly. The students marched around Central London before passing by the Prime Minister’s residence at Downing Street just before 5pm.
They chanted: “David Cameron f*cked a pig… and the students!”
The majority of the crowd had gone by this point. Those who remained were notably noisy and confrontational, shouting and swearing at police when they were asked to walk on the pavement.
A large group began to run in an attempt to evade police at around 5:30pm. At this point several vans of police reinforcements arrived, blocking off St James’s Street leading to Charing Cross.
The police kettled the remaining protesters there. Many tried to escape, lunging and swearing at officers. Several more arrests were made (see video).
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement to the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC): “Congratulations on your demonstration today… Keep protesting, keep campaigning for justice. Education is a right, not a privilege.”
Adding: “I opposed the imposition of fees, and each increase, and I opposed the removal of maintenance grants – as did many others – and now we have an opportunity to change course, and to change Labour into a force that represents students’ desire for free and accessible education.”