November 22, 2010
By Paul Lewis and Matthew Taylor
Security at constituency offices stepped up ahead of marches, sit-ins and walkouts planned for Wednesday over proposed rises.
Liberal Democrat MPs have been warned that their constituency offices may be occupied on Wednesday, as anger over the proposed increase in university fees threatens to spread across the country.
Police have advised Lib Dem officials that student campaigners were planning to target offices as part of a day of protest. Two Lib Dem constituency offices were occupied on Friday – John Hemming’s in Birmingham Yardley and Jenny Willott’s in Cardiff Central.
More than 20,000 school, college and university students have signed up to a Facebook site organising a co-ordinated “walkout” from classes at 11am on Wednesday.
At least 30 regional online groups have sprung up in the past week, amid signs that the occupation of the Conservative party headquarters in London earlier this month has emboldened organisers to plan local actions.
They are planning marches, sit-ins and acts of civil disobedience in opposition to the coalition’s plans to raise tuition fees and scrap the education maintenance allowance. Organisers are predicting that some of the protests will involve fewer than 100 people, while others are predicted to attract several thousand. Tonight about 50 students occupied part of the School of Oriental and African Studies campus in central London, and in Manchester around 150 students from the Metropolitan University occupied a lecture theatre.
London is expected to be the focus of the activities, with the University of London Union (ULU) hosting a “carnival of resistance” protest. More than 1,000 facemasks have been ordered.
Protesters plan to congregate in Trafalgar Square, and other demonstrations are planned in Parliament Square, Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade. Protesters have also said they will target the Guardian’s building tomorrow, when it hosts a lecture by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.
Clare Solomon, president of ULU, said the masks would add to the “carnivalesque” nature of the protest. She was against plans to target the Lib Dem headquarters in a re-enactment of the occupation of the Tory building, as a result of which more than 60 people were arrested, and at least one has been charged with violent disorder.
All non-essential meetings at the Liberal Democrats‘ London headquarters in Cowley Street have been cancelled or moved. Security will be stepped up and officials said police had promised “reinforcements” would be stationed around the building. Lines of police are also expected to be deployed around parliament and department buildings.
The Metropolitan police, criticised for failing to predict the level of unrest at the last demonstration, will have officers from its specialist riot squad, the territorial support group, on standby across central London in an operation overseen by Commander Bob Broadhurst, who was in command of policing at last year’s G20 demonstration.
Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/22/liberal-democrat-mps-student-protests