Tag Archives: Scotland

“No Thanks” – the real legacy for Scotland’s teenagers

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The votes were counted, the results were announced and – with that – the United Kingdom remained exactly as it was. For first time voters Sabina Jedrezejczyk, Sean Thomson and Amina Davidson, the Scottish independence referendum was so much more than just a ballot.

AS THE NEWS that Alex Salmond has stepped down as First Minister of Scotland pops up on my phone – interrupting our interview – Sean and Sabina both give a little gasp. “I told you!” exclaims Sean to Sabina, “I said this morning that would happen!”

Political engagement has been a welcome new dynamic among Scottish teens in the last few months, in the lead up  to what was a potentially life changing referendum on independence. Our chat takes place the day after the results are in: the country’s electorate have chosen to remain in the UK, by a margin of 55 per cent of those against independence to 45 per cent for it.

With the voting age in Scotland being lowered to sixteen ahead of the decision, and with an unprecedented 84.5 per cent voter turnout on the day, this revitalised level of engagement and enthusiasm in politics from teenagers like Sabina and Sean is – Scotland should be proud to admit – nothing unusual.

However, there are a couple of differences between this pair of sixteen year olds and  their peers. The two have been part of the BBC’s Generation 2014: a small group of young Scottish residents discussing issues for and against independence in the public eye since last September.

‘No Thanks’

Thursday’s referendum was the first time they voted.  It was a decision they made with some certainty, but not – I’m told – without a lot of thought and changes of heart beforehand. But for both, in the end, it was a “No”.

Sabina, who lives in Dalkeith but is originally from Poland, was undecided until only a week before the vote: deciding in the end that, ultimately, it “wasn’t worth the risk”.

“We’re stronger and safer together”, Sabina says decidedly, highlighting that security issues were a big part of her decision. “There could be a war soon – I’m not saying there will – but for all we know, it could happen any second”. Being part of the United Kingdom safeguards Scotland against this as part of a wider defence strategy.

Sean – a first time voter from Perthshire – nods in agreement. His stance on independence has gone through an even more drastic transition. Sean has gone from being an ardent ‘yes’ campaigner and SNP member, to an active advocate of the Better Together campaign and self-proclaimed convert to the political right.

This switch he attributes to the “contradictory and opaque” nature of the White Paper: a document released last year by the Scottish Government, outlining their vision of an independent nation. Far from convince him, the paper – which Sean adds, with some pride, that he read in its entirety – “pushed” him towards the No campaign.

“Yes was good in principle, but bad on paper: the more they wrote the less they said”, he summarises.

Sweet Relief

Even the promises of new powers to Scotland in the aftermath of a No vote aren’t something Sean is necessarily in favour of. Further plans for devolution should be taken “with a pinch of salt”, he argues: “there are just some things we should decide as a nation: its good to keep things within the existing framework”.

Sabina doesn’t necessarily agree. “No doesn’t have to mean no change” she says, the statement an echo of a popular phrase used during campaigning by Better Together. For her, waking up on the morning to find the country’s decision had been to remain in the UK brought a great sense of relief.

“I thought for a while that Yes were going to win, especially after the Glasgow ‘Yes’ rally. I was scared for the future. This morning I switched on the TV, and saw that No had won, and I was really relieved.”

“We had it in the bag”, Sean chimes in – confident in the No campaign’s victory from the beginning – “I knew we would win.”

There’s no need to be smug 

Still, it’s not something to be ‘smug’ about: this they both agree on. Indeed, the high levels of discussion and engagement around the country are not entirely positive now that the referendum is over, and just under half of the population have been given an answer they’re unhappy with.

The friction between Yes and No voters in the lead up to the referendum wasn’t just constrained to rallies and televised debates: Sean and Sabina describe regular lunchtime fall outs in the playground over the country’s future.

“We discussed it more and more as it got closer” Sabina says, to the extent that “we would be shouting over each other”. Sean agrees that – while most of his friends were also No voters – the flipside of other young people informing themselves meant “yet another argument”.

“Some people took a lot of convincing!” Sean jokes, adding – on a more serious note – that he’s planning already to return to school on Monday and “acting as though nothing’s changed”, in awareness of how high emotions can run on this topic.

“The nation is divided”, Sabina says: this decision is now something that we should all “accept and move on” from.

A disappointed Yes voter

As we continue to chat over coffee, more of the Generation 2014 group enter the cafe. Among them is sixteen year old Amina Davidson: a first time voter from Edinburgh who had decided to vote Yes in Thursday’s referendum.

“Obviously I’m a bit disappointed” she says, adding that the seeming momentum of the Yes campaign had her really “hope towards the end” for a positive result.

Amina tells me that she’s been a Yes voter since the very beginning. This is because, put simply, “we should decide what happens in our own country, and our wealth should be spent in other ways”. Far removed from Sabina’s worries on security and Sean’s disillusionment with White Paper specifics, Amina outlines arts funding, Trident nuclear defence and the expansion of Gaelic media among her reasons for voting in favour of independence the day before.

Much like her Generation 2014 peers, she worries about division in Scotland’s future between those on either side of the vote. “I’ve always been open to both sides”, she explains to me. “My friends were a big mix, though we mostly voted yes. I’m just worried about No voters being smug now – they seem a bit up themselves today. Not all of them, obviously, but some”.

Nonetheless, the opportunity to vote and to participate in shaping the future of Scotland is something Amina found extremely exciting – even if the vote didn’t go the way she’d hoped. “We’re mature enough to work, to marry, to have kids and pay taxes: we’re old enough to decide our future”.

The real legacy

During my afternoon chatting with the most well-informed teenagers I’ve met in a long time, I get a glimpse of what they’d like their own – personal – futures to look like. Sabina, Sean and Amina all voice a desire to continue being active in politics and the media: with ambitions of political and journalistic careers. In fact – despite their differences on polling day – all three of these bright, informed and enthusiastic young people seem to share a common vision for what the legacy of this referendum should be: continued youth engagement with politics.

I sincerely hope that, outside the huge prospective changes passed up by fellow Scots last Thursday – or the proposed changes decided for us in Westminster in the coming months – that the real transformation to Scotland will be in the attitude of its youngest generations: towards politics and their part to play within it.

Written by Rachel Barr
Image: BBC images, Generation 2014 

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A ‘native to native’ guide to surviving Edinburgh Festival

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AUGUST IN EDINBURGH means one thing: The Festival. For most of Edinburgh’s permanent or recently adopted residents, this month long gathering of Britain’s finest humanities graduates (either in the show or, more probably, behind the bar) is a bit of a double edged rubber sword.

On the one hand, we can drink for about 20 hours of the day like Scottish people were bred to do (all the good hours too, leaving just enough respite for a nap and a fry-up between 5am and 10am). Edinburgh is full of life and sunshine and light entertainment and festivities. Almost everyone can get some sort of part time job, as long as they know how to pour things or juggle fire or cycle short distances with fat tourists strapped to their bikes.

But therein lies the problem. The fat tourists. The busy streets of pushy promoters and dawdling holidaymakers who cause your commute to anywhere to triple in length and hassle. The assumption by everyone that your home city is theirs to enjoy and abuse, like some sort of cultural Centre-Parcs. One minute, your quiet local comprises only of the friends, staff and fellow alcoholics you have chosen to spend your days with – the next, it’s some sort of makeshift jazz venue with a wine list and unexplained 50p surcharges on beer mats and toilet visits.

To help fellow natives struggling to keep emotionally afloat during this exciting but difficult month, we have very kindly come up with some hints and tips on how to not only survive, but thrive, in Edinburgh Festival.  We were going to give a comprehensive list of shortcuts, untouched drinking holes and indications of where you can find cheap ticket sales, but I feel like that might be too obvious. Lets make like a mime artist and think outside the invisible box here.

1) FEEL FREE TO BE A BIT OF A KNOB

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Edinburgh Festival is famed for its cultural diversity. The majority of Edinburgh’s August residents are strangers to these parts so will be unsure of our usual social norms. They are also usually self-described liberals who will be far too embarrassed or principled to mention any funny traits you decide to adopt. Take this opportunity to recreate yourself for the month. Try out a new look, practice a hilarious walk or test out your impression of any accent you like for the festival’s entirety. There are enough w*nkers pretending to be something that they’re not that you’ll fit right in.  If you are Scottish,  my personal recommendation would be for you to try faking your own accent in an exaggerated, stereotyped “och-aye-the-noo” way to confuse Edinburgh locals and tourists alike. Textbook Festival Double Bluff.

#2: Get Political…

To J.K. Rowling, I apologise

 

“SCOTLAND IS A MUD BLOOD NATION”

This article is essentially an apology to J.K. Rowling, for the behaviour of a few small-minded, intolerable morons. Without their views and apparent idiocy both the debate surrounding the independence referendum and Scottish society would certainly be a better one.

In her much needed and eloquently written defence of a No vote in the forthcoming independence referendum, J.K Rowling uses terminology from her best-selling Harry Potter series. The author refers to a lunatic fringe of Yes supporters – whom operate mostly behind the anonymity of social media – and describes their ideals of ethnic nationalism “a little Death-Eaterish”.

This is most certainly an accurate description, as their presence online, a space usually reserved for the best kind of grassroots campaigning in support of a Yes vote, most certainly does drain the enthusiasm and happiness out of a keenly argued, intellectual debate about Scotland’s future and how we can hopefully improve it regardless of the decisions made on the 18th of September.

Their company is unwanted by the vast majority of Yes voters I have encountered either in person or online for two reasons: their views are morally redundant both within and outside of the context of the independence debate; and their brand of technological vigilantism is hurtfully unrepresentative of the official and unofficial Yes campaigns.

The fact that the “London-centric media that can be careless and dismissive in its treatment of Scotland”  – to which Rowling also refers in her epistle – is only too eager to display this rogue minority of Yes voters as the face of the campaign is another issue for another article. Indeed one journalist described these troglodytes as “blood and soil nationalists”. The said journalist was hopefully unaware that blood and soil nationalism was Nazi Germany’s pet name for the land laws which prevented Jews from owning, working or ‘poisoning’ German soil or blood.

Another quote from a Scottish author has been used in defence of the accusations put at the Yes campaigns doorstep regarding the ethnic nationalism of the bullies targeting – most prominently, but definitely not exclusively – J.K. Rowling; namely William McIlvanney’s declaration that Scotland is proudly a “mongrel nation”. This strikes a far louder chord with the Yes campaign I am familiar with; the Yes campaign of Radical Independence and National Collective, of Green Yes and Women for Independence, Africans for Yes, Academics for Yes and Generation Yes. Collectively, these organisations represent the mongrel nature of the Yes campaign, and one which contradicts the ethnic nationalism of a noisy minority.

To borrow my own choice of Harry Potter terminology, this collection of Yes campaigners represent almost all groups within Scotland’s mudblood society, a society which, excepting an unwelcome and unwelcoming few, accepts all with one condition: that they have the best intentions for all. Scotland has been described as having embedded in its national consciousness a “fierce egalitarian streak.” This trait is the same one which helped JK Rowling when she was a single mother writing fantasy books in an Edinburgh cafe. This is the trait that explains why the vast majority of our society cared not whether she was “born in the West Country and grew up in the Welsh border” with a mix of Scottish, English, French and Flemish ancestry. This is also the characteristic inherent in most individuals in our society, and especially in the grassroots Yes campaign, which champions the drive for a debate centred on civil nationalism – a case vividly argued for by National Collective’s Mairi McFadyen in her open letter to J.K. Rowling.

It is this civil nationalism that has prompted me to intend to vote Yes. The message it stresses is as simple as it is profound, democratic, and – sadly – all too rare: In an independent Scotland everyone will be given a chance – a fair chance. 

Words by Daniel Reuben Comiskey 

Photo by Daniel Ogren

 

Is Scottish independence the solution to healthcare challenges?

Scottish independence

IN 2011, THE SCOTTISH National Party  (SNP) won a historic majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament, leading to the independence referendum vote in September 2014.

The SNP claim that the Scottish economy is in a stronger position than the UK economy, for example, in 2010, Gross National Income per head in Scotland was estimated to be higher than the UK as a whole.

Since 1999, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have overseen healthcare and the NHS. This has seen progressive policies such as free personal care and free prescriptions being introduced. In contrast, the English healthcare system has seen almost constant re-organisation and increased private sector involvement leading to funding shortfalls.

There remain huge challenges facing Scottish healthcare, including substantial health inequalities meaning that children born in the poorest parts of Scotland can expect to live 11 years less than those in the wealthier areas. In addition cancer mortality rates are 76 per cent higher in deprived areas.

Scottish parliamentWhile healthcare is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government in London is planning to cut Scottish welfare spending by around £6 billion by 2016. The Child Poverty Action Group estimates that child poverty will increase to 100,000 by 2020 due to these cuts. This increase in poverty will lead to widening health inequalities and more ill health, placing more pressure on the NHS in Scotland.

The Coalition Government has introduced a number of measures which have reduced the living standards of some of the poorest in  society. The ‘bedroom tax’ penalizes households who are deemed to have one or more bedrooms more than they ‘need’ by  reducing their housing benefit by 25 per cent. This has had a massively disproportionate impact on people with disabilities and  their families.

The Coalition Government also announced that they wish to abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for 16 to 64 year olds and  introduce a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with far higher criteria, meaning that many people with disabilities will end  up losing this essential benefit. The introduction of PIP has been shambolic, with the last figure from the Department for Work and  Pensions (DWP) showing that 220,000 people had made PIP claims, but less than a fifth had been processed.

There is little wonder then that there has been a huge increase in the number of food banks. The Trussell Trust recently announced   that 71,428 Scots had used its food banks over the last year, compared to 14,318 in 2012/13. Independence will allow Scotland to   abolish the bedroom tax and hold on to Disability Living Allowance.

In terms of employment, the Coalition Government introduced the Work Programme in June 2011. Under the scheme, the task of helping the long-term unemployed has been outsourced primarily to private sector organisations. The results have been very poor, with job outcome figures much lower than the Government’s Minimum Performance Level.

Westminster There have also been large increases in the numbers of people who are unemployed being sanctioned, thus taking them out of the  unemployment statistics. Clearly, removing payments to benefit claimants will worsen an already poor situation, leading to  increased reliance on food banks and high-interest loan firms. Indeed, it may exacerbate mental health issues, making it more  difficult to find work.

Only through independence will the Scottish Government control the economic leavers that can develop the economy and create  much needed sustainable employment opportunities. Without such, there is little opportunity to significantly tackle poverty and  inequality.

The challenge facing healthcare in Scotland is a significant one. Successive Westminster governments have failed to substantially  reduce health inequalities in Scotland. There have been decades of underinvestment in the housing stock leaving hundreds of  thousands of households in fuel poverty.

Independence gives Scotland a better opportunity to use its economic resources to invest in its housing stock, sports facilities, community health programmes, and health education, creating thousands of much needed jobs and improving living standards and health.

Declining access to healthcare provisions: My Opinion 

My main concern about a no vote is that I received Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This comprises of a care component and a motability component. I use my motability component to lease a car through the motability scheme. I use my care component to meet the extra costs of having a disability. Indeed, it is estimated that people with disabilities have at least 25% extra living costs.

The Government in London in reassessing everyone aged 16-64 who receives DLA for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with far higher criteria. Based onDepartment for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, it is estimated that 46,000 Scots with disabilities will lose their entitlement to get a car through the motability scheme.

Stephen McMurray is a member of the Radical Independence Campaign http://radicalindependence.org/

Picture credits: Pro-independence rally by Mártainn MacDhómhnaill, Holyrood by Wojtek Gurak and Westminster by Justin.

Just another case of identity fraud?

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With Ukraine in turmoil over what to do about Crimea and the build-up to the European elections across the continent Pandeia is pleased to launch our new theme of ‘National Identity’.

To identify yourself as a citizen of a particular nation on this planet is usually a birth-right. The many forms and documents that have to be filled in on a daily basis in civilised society, force each person to take a position on their nationality — and in turn their identity — from an early age. But, in this globalised world, where one single tweet can make a Blackpool beautician famous seemingly throughout humanity, what does it mean when we pledge an allegiance to a flag, a country or even a continent? It is this question with which Pandeia launches our new theme of ‘National Identity’.

The crisis in Crimea has brought the concept of nation states and ‘National Identity’ under intense scrutiny. The term ‘Ukraine’s territorial integrity’ has been the sound bite with which the West has criticised Russia’s actions. Ukraine’s territorial integrity with regards to Crimea, it is argued, comes hand in hand with the country’s national identity. However, it is undoubtedly more complicated than that. Russian President, Vladimir Putin’s claims to do everything within his power to protect ‘ethnic Russians’, while deeply worrying in an immediate conflict context, actually contains underlying connotations that are the crux of the main issue affecting not just the continent but the globe in the 21st century.

To declare a geographical area as belonging to one state government is to whitewash from history the many years that came before those particular state boundaries were drawn up. In Crimea for example, the Tatars who are indigenous to the peninsula, have for centuries battled against Russian rule. It is of course natural then that these are the people most worried about the looming Russian annexation of Crimea. Complications inherently arise when diverse ethnic cultures are banded together under one banner, or more usually one flag. As national identity is often as much of a construct, as the flag that represents it.

For examples of these complications, it is prudent to look no further than the last major conflict to afflict continental Europe — the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and in particular the recent struggles in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following the Dayton agreement, the aforementioned nation state was born and a new post-conflict era was heralded. However, nearly 20 years on, the country is blighted by structure of its government, designed to force the three ethnic identities — Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs — to collaborate together. As the inhabitants of Bosnia have learnt merely heralding a ‘new united nation’ doesn’t always result in a one. This struggle has prompted the recent protests with one banner reading “There is no ‘Bosnian people’” a concise assessment of national identity in the country.

The future of indigenous populations is at times most relevant when discussing ‘National Identity’. The North American indigenous populations have for years attempted to preserve and foster their cultures in an environment which often places the Nation at the forefront of any discussions on identity. As the nation state’s identity has begun to subsume the indigenous populations, new attempts to diversify and maintain their distinctiveness have been made. This was most recently the case when the Latoka tribe from the Pine Ridge reservation declared they were looking into making the ‘Mazacoin’ their national currency. In a statement of intent towards sovereignty and a form of national identity, the Mazacoin — a bitcoin variant, an alternative virtual currency — would replace the American Dollar in the area. Its use is coherent with the concept of trading and bartering that occurs across many indigenous populations, and the minds behind the concept, believe that by adopting a digital currency the Latoka tribe can shed decades of poverty. Currency in itself shapes such strong feelings of national identity and pride and the Mazacoin could be the start of a new kind of sovereignty in the 21st century.

It is no wonder then, that currency has become the new battleground in the independence debate that threatens to engulf Scotland in 2014. The concept of a shared monetary union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK has been championed by the YES Scotland campaign, while all three of the main political parties at Westminster have deemed the notion inconceivable. In questions of independence, much is made of national identity and the Sterling currency perhaps carries with it more identifiers of national pride than any other. Particularly in the run-up to the European elections, the prospect of a ‘European identity’ is continually disparaged in the UK, in favour of the British or more usually the national identity, be it Welsh, Scottish, English or Northern Irish. In Britain, this is even more of a surprise, for as history shows it is a nation formed of many different ‘identities’ — from the Anglo-Saxons, to the Vikings, to the West Indians of the ‘Windrush Generation’, Britain’s national identity, to be ‘British’, means not one single identifiable factor.

Maybe the one problem with ‘National Identity’ is, that it doesn’t really exist in the first place.

By Jamie Timson

UK: The Bottom Line

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Radicalization, heavy drinking, bullying and a high profile library ban are just some of the major topics in this week’s UK press. Rachel Barr looks at everything from the army, and controversy in the London Mayor’s office to the Nek-nominate craze in this week’s Bottom Line.

Army Chaplain Conducts Memorial Service in Helmand, Afghanistan

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ALLEGED RAPE AND BULLYING were the factors included in the suicide of British soldier Anne-Marie Ellement, in a recent inquest into her death. It was reported that the two men alleged to have raped her were not prosecuted, inspiring  the coroner present to call on the Ministry of Defence to review its help with vulnerable soldiers. Speaking out to the BBC, the Corporal’s mother said that her daughter had been “bullied, belittled and overworked and driven to the depths of despair”. The Army’s director of Personal Services has responded by stating that future lessons to be learnt and their priorities to prevent this kind of tragedy will come from the coroner’s report, and that they were deeply sorry for the ministry’s failures.

 

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MUSLIM CHILDREN at ‘risk of radicalization’ should be put into care, argues London Mayor Boris Johnson, deeming extremist indoctrination a form of child abuse. Writing in his weekly column in The Telegraph, he claims that political correctness is preventing counter-terrorism officers from doing their jobs and stopping “the infection of radicalisation” on vulnerable young people “before it is too late”. In response, the Muslim Council of Britain has stated to the BBC that Johnson’s column looked more at generating headlines than solving problems, and that young people of all faiths should not have to worry about the risks of living in a ‘Big Brother’ society.

 

 

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SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER Alex Salmond risks being banned from all Council buildings in Aberdeen, in a move the Scottish National Party has deemed “an act of madness”. Aberdeen’s Labour led council will debate a motion this week which would ban the First Minister and his ministerial team from everything from council offices to schools and libraries, after claims of his ‘bullying tactics’ emerged last year. The council and Salmond have had some years of disagreements, which will come to a head in the decision of the ban, to be made on Wednesday.

 

Meanwhile, The Student Press are talking about….

NEK-NOMINATE, the “social drinking game for social media”, which involves downing something alcoholic within 24 hours of someone nominating you, filming it and then tagging three other ‘nominees’ to do the same – or worse –  when you post it online. The game has become an online craze and is now ‘out of control’, according to an interview with the Irish Rugby player responsible for it’s success. Speaking to The National Student, Ross Samson said the game had ‘snowballed’ and he wanted nothing further to do with it – after videos emerged with people having sex on camera while downing their drinks, and others had drank theirs mixed in with dead, blended mice.

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Blogging for Warwich Student Union, Zoe Buckland is concerned that peer pressure for the drinking game might be even stronger because it is online. Her concern derived from the three deaths which have implicated the craze as a possible cause – calling out to students to “stay safe” and reassuring them that it’s “okay to say no”.

Death or no death, the game involves  two “really unsurprising, predictably lame, facets of the culture of our generation”. Writing for Durham’s Palatinate, Toby Hambly points a figure at the ‘narcissistic culture of social media’ and lad culture – a ‘double whammy’ of internet predictability when the two are combined. In knowledge of this age of vanity and binge drinking, Hambly concludes,  we should reserve our outrage for things truly deserving of it, not something so predictable and determinable as Nek-nominate.

 

 

 

2013 – Britain’s Annus Horribilis?

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At the turn of 2013, no one could have guessed the start of the year would result in such a harsh U-Turn in the UK’s public conscience. No longer was the forced Olympic and Jubilee celebrations enough to numb the public into a state of self-satisfied inertia, 2013 became the year of panic, protests and heavy handed policing. A year on, Pandeia explores how each new month brought more instances of disturbances and unrest in this 2013 Year in Review.

 

January 2013 – Isle of Man tuition fees, Oxford students protest Assange visit.

At the beginning of last year, a decision to introduce tuition fees for students from the Isle of Man was met with considerable protests. Three demonstrations took place in front of the Manx parliament, including an 800 signature strong petition. As reported in IOM Today, the group ‘Say No to Manx Tuition Fees’ helped organize the protest, the efforts ultimately leading to a postponement of the policy. The fees faced by Manx students would be a minimum of £2,500

january isle of man protests

    Via: Prospect Isle of Man https://www.facebook.com/IOMProspect

 

Meanwhile, a group of students from Oxford University opposed a presentation via video-link of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on their campus to give a speech to students.

 

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Julian Assange will be speaking at the Oxford Union on 23rd January. WomCam will be protesting. More details to come; get involved.

— OUSUWomen’sCampaign (@womcam) January 9, 2013

 

 

As reported in The Oxford Student the speech was to be broadcast at the Oxford Union. Wadham SU passed a statement of disapproval with its women’s officer claiming Assange’s address would be “disrespectful to survivors of rape and sexual assault.” The Oxford Union defended the decision and encouraged people to use the question and answer session to put the allegations to Mr Assange. However, Tom Rutland, President of the Oxford University Students’ Union  stood in criticism of the move.

 

As reported in the independent Oxford student paper Cherwell,  up to 70 protesters amassed outside the union during the speech given by Assange. The paper also reported that Assange criticised a film ‘The Fifth Estate’ which he claimed was “a lie upon a lie.”

 

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Oxford Union uploaded #Assange‘s speech only after removing Collateral Murder footage, replacing it with Union’s logo. http://t.co/ED4Cq2T9
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 28, 2013

 

 

It was reported that, despite this, Assange faced a number of probing questions about his designation as a fugitive. Assange is currently within the Ecuadorian embassy and faces extradition to Sweden to face charges for rape.

 

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JA in response to student – I won’t go back to Sweden to face trial because they won’t agree not to extradite me to USA

— Oxford Union (@OxfordUnion) January 23, 2013

 

 

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Julian Assange finds no allies and tough queries in Oxford University talk http://t.co/SGNmsDJL via @guardian
— Oxford Union (@OxfordUnion) January 24, 2013

 

 

February 2013 – Sussex students start occupation against privatisation

In February, a group of students at Sussex University began a long-term occupation of a university building to protest the privatisation of services at the university.

 

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Hundreds of protesters camped out in the Bramber House building on the university campus. As reported in The Badger, the campaign attracted national media attention and was supported by a number of high profile names, including commentator Owen Jones.

 

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This protest would continue for some time and later in the year would lead to an escalation in hostilities between students and university authorities.

 

March 2013 – Final trial of students arrested during 2010 protests. Acquittal of Alfie Meadows whose skull was allegedly fractured by a police baton during 2010 protests.

 

Alfie Meadows, a student who required emergency surgery after the 2010 protests against tuition fees was found not guilty of violent disorder last March.

 

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Meadows, who was a student at Middlesex University at the time of the protest, required surgery for a fractured skull after being allegedly bludgeoned by a police baton. Meadows also pledged to continue legal action against the Metropolitan Police which was postponed while he fought the charges.

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Justice for Alfie Meadows and Zak King! More than two years after the student protests of December 2010, two… http://t.co/97Krntyx
— Left Unity (@LeftUnityUK) February 11, 2013

 

 

In the same trial, fellow student Zak King was also found to be innocent of charges levied against him by police.

 

April 2013 – Four people arrested during Sussex student occupation. 

 

As reported in The Badger, four students were arrested in April during an eviction of protesters occupying a university building, after weeks of ongoing protest.

 

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The decision to evict the students came after the occupation started in February and was criticised by some groups.  A protest was organised at Sussex University calling for a continuation of protests and support for those students who were arrested. It also opposed the presence of police at peaceful protest and called for ‘Cops Off Campus’.

 

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May 2013 – Pledge to protest closing of ULU. 

 

The planned closure of the University of London Union was announced in May. This was met with hostility by many students and would be the trigger for protests and arrests later in the year.

 

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@Channel4 PRESS RELEASE: Students pledge to fight #ULU closure http://t.co/kNi3pdGSF3

— ULU (@ULUnion) May 3, 2013

 

 

As reported in The Journal the NUS pledged to support the union and oppose its closure.

 

 

June 2013 – Students occupy Warwick in protest at rise in Vice Chancellors pay. Stop G8 Protests in London.

 

As reported in Warwick-student newspaper The Boar, over 20 students occupied the Senate House on the Warwick campus to oppose privatisation at the university. One of the protesters said that the occupation took inspiration from the occupation at Sussex University earlier in the year. One of the protesters also said they were committed to dialogue but feared that the campus security services would cut off access to toilet facilities and food supplies.

 

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However, again reported in The Boar, the protest ended peacefully on 22 June with many protesters claiming they didn’t want to occupation to drag on and result in legal action.

 

Meanwhile, June also saw anti-G8 protests which included ‘Stop G8 Network’ –  which opposes the G8 and calls for an anti-capitalist agenda who were holding a ‘Carnival against Capitalism’.

 

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Carnival against capitalism! Come on down to Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus starting right now! #stopg8

— StopG8 (@stopG8UK) June 11, 2013

 

 

During the protests there were allegations of police brutality towards protesters and one man arrested on a rooftop was taken to hospital as reported in the Huffington Post

 

Police said that there had been incidents of criminal behaviour and rumours of planned violence towards police. 57 were arrested according to The Guardian during the break-up of an occupation in Beak Street.

 

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@MetPoliceEvents Sec 60AA gives Officers the power to remove masks #J11” Meanwhile… pic.twitter.com/Iw7MSEFS5q

— Sean Hughes (@SeanWHughes) June 11, 2013

 

 

July 2013 – Announcement of Crime and anti-Social Behaviour Bill. Arrest at ULU after protest slogans written in chalk.

 

During July, the ‘Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour Bill’ was announced. This led to widespread concerns among many that it could restrict the right to protest.

 

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As reported in the London Tab, 15 police officers were called to University of London Senate Building to arrest a student who had written a slogan in chalk on a wall protesting the closure of the University of London Union (ULU).

 

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#ULU protest – Konstancja Duff, 24, from Camberwell, has been charged with criminal damage and assault X2 on police –http://t.co/D6N01pENuG — Jack Grove (@jgro_the) July 17, 2013

 

 

August 2013 – Fracking protest – arrest of Caroline Lucas MP.

 

As reported in The Guardian dozens of anti-fracking protesters were arrested at the Balcombe site in a ‘day of action’ by activists during August.

 

 

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Latest picture from @rtcc_sophie at the #Balcombe #fracking protest: pic.twitter.com/gGT1NWarw2
— RTCC #climate news (@RTCCnewswire) July 25, 2013

 

 

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion was also arrested. Charges were later levied against the former Green Party leader for “breaching a police order on public assemblies and wilful obstruction of the highway.”

 

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Big thanks for all kind comments about #fracking protest yesterday & huge credit to all at #Balcombe for commitment to clean energy future

— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) August 20, 2013

One of most interesting issues in the fracking debate came in the role of Dr Edward Lloyd-Davies, who up until 2012 worked at the University of Sussex, it was reported in The Daily Telegraph that he was the founding member of Frack Off, the largest anti-fracking protest group. These reports attested to the continuing partnership between University staff and students in the demonstrations.

 

September 2013 – Aldgate East protests – EDL leader arrested along with 150 anti-fascist protesters.

An English Defence League (EDL) protest in Aldgate East was met by a large number of anti-fascist protesters in September. The leader of the EDL Tommy Robinson was arrested by police along with 14 others from the EDL. 150 anti-fascist protesters were also arrested for straying from the route. Approximately 3,000 police officers were deployed to keep order between the rival groups.

Robinson was also banned from speaking at Oxford Union the same month, amid ‘security concerns’. Speaking to the BBC, Oxford Student Union president Tom Rutland said that he was ‘delighted’ that the invitation had been withdrawn, stating:

“Fascist speakers who spread hate and threats that extend to our students and the wider community, and often bring with them a rally of violent and dangerous thugs, are clearly a threat to the safety of students and other residents of the city.”

 

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Pic from #EDL at Aldgate. Hearing about 800 anti-fascists in Aldgate East, not too far from the EDL protest site. pic.twitter.com/ULDRyrL
— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) September 3, 2011

 

 

October 2013 – Edinburgh students detained during visit by Princess Anne.

 

Two students at the University of Edinburgh were detained by Royal Protection Officers at the University’s Old College Building during a visit by Princess Anne in September.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Students detained after being forcibly removed from Old College http://t.co/hHEp1686OW

— Student Newspaper (@TheStudentPaper) October 9, 2013

 

 

The students claimed they were quietly studying when searched and arrested by the authorities.

 

Police Scotland said that the students were not detained under terrorism legislation and the removal of the pair was due to their unauthorised presence within a restricted area. Speaking to Pandeia, University Trustee Mike Shaw branded the incident a “disgusting breach of trust between the student body and their institution”.

 

Meanwhile, Sussex students restarted their efforts to overturn the decision to privatise services at the university. The previous occupation ended with a number of arrests and the latest occupation again centred on the Bramber House building.

 

Sussex is #occupied
— occupy_sussex (@occupy_sussex) October 30, 2013

 

 

November 2013 – Michael Chessum arrested after meeting with University of London representatives. Police try to recruit ‘spy’ at Cambridge.

 

University of London Union (ULU) President Michael Chessum was arrested by police in November after organising what police claimed was an unofficial protest.

 

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Michael Chessum, ULU president has been arrested following yesterdays demonstration. More details here: http://t.co/YMELbXd11f #saveULU

— Leopard Newspaper (@LeopardNews) November 14, 2013

 

 

As reported in The Leopard this led to a protest outside a Holborn police station calling for Chessum’s immediate release.

 

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Pic- #ulu /student protest,Holborn police station,against Michael Chessum arrest. Full story: http://t.co/ml0v2rbV7W pic.twitter.com/hM2rxSrGtl
— Chris Parr (@ChrisParrTHE) November 14, 2013

 

 

Meanwhile, Cambridgeshire police received criticism for their attempt to recruit an informer within the student union at Cambridge University.

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Cambridge students denounce police attempts to recruit informant to monitor student activists http://t.co/9tjDOpIL1E

— TheCambridgeStudent (@TCSNewspaper) November 15, 2013

 

 

December 2013 – Multiple arrests and allegations of police brutality at ULU. Sussex students suspended then reinstated. #copsoffcampus.

 

Five students were suspended by Sussex University for their role in the on-going Occupy Sussex movement which has been based in Bramber House since late October.

 

This led to an outcry among many who supported the five and demanded they be reinstated.

 

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After pressure from the campaign, the students were eventually reinstated by the university.

 

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Another protest at ULU resulted in more arrests and a video emerged of a police officer apparently punching a protester.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoL5BuoAnIs

 

According to the London Student 36 arrests were made including editor of the London Student Oscar Webb who showed his press card to photographers while being arrested.

 

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This culminated in a day of protest: #copsoffcampus was a national day of action and a large protest took place in central London criticising police brutality and restrictions on protest by the authorities.

 

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