TORY HQ SMASHED UP – FUCKING BRILLIANT!

Those students who raised up on 10 11 2010
for there heroes
who took The Class War to
The Tory Head Quarters

Report One

52,000 people took to the streets in London today, surged past Downing Street, devastated police lines, and occupied the ruling Conservative party’s HQ at 30 Millbank Towers, Westminster. The original march was organised by the National Union of Students (NUS ) in order to demonstrate the feelings of those soon to be, or already, studying at university with regards to the massive increase in tuition fees as well as the simultaneous funding slashes of higher educational institutions.

But the protest was about much more than that. It was about the growing discontent that began long ago, nurtured by the recession, MP’s expenses, big-bank bailouts, and finally brought to a head by a coalition government fronted by classicist Conservative party and propped up by a hypocritical Liberal Democrat party bent on cuts in the name of the ‘Big Society’.

It was billed as a march by students to protest the hike in tuition fees from roughly £3,500 per annum to as much as £9,000. Coupled with this was a cut in the funding that universities and other HI education bodies would receive, resulting in fewer courses, less contact time between students and lecturers, more redundancies, and even closures.

In reality, it was a broad cross section of society demonstrating its frustration at a status quo willing to hand over billions in tax payer’s money to financial institutions, only for George Osborne to turn around and say; now you must get used to ‘austerity’.

According to the Guardian Online , the march numbered at 52,000, more than double the NUS ‘s estimate which would seem to point to people other than students taking part. Indeed, the NUS ‘s president, Aaron Porter, has already distanced his union from the day’s events by “absolutely condemning” what he calls violence at the hands of a “minority” of “splinter groups”.

But in watching the footage which covers the news channels, it is hard to believe that this was anything other than a determined cross-section of people who felt a common purpose, a shared goal, a true example of Mr Cameron’s “Big Society”, to make their opposition to the government’s will noticed.

From within the occupied Tory HQ, activists have released this statement;

“We oppose all cuts and we stand in solidarity with public sector workers, and all poor, disabled, elderly and working people. We are occupying the roof in opposition to the marketisation of education pushed through by the coalition government, and the system they are pushing through of helping the rich and attacking the poor. We call for direct action to oppose these cuts- this is only the beginning of the resistance to the destruction of our education system and public services.”

So in the coming days the coalition government will likely gloss over the fact that this was a demonstration of a disaffected public, and paint it as a violent skirmish by a radical few. But we must remember that the reality was thousands from all walks of life rallied against a common enemy, and we must continue to do so.

Report Two from Last Hours..

Arriving at the starting point of the demo the energy (and noise) levels were already extremely high. There were thousands of young people from all over the country, but it seemed that the whole event was being carefully controlled by stewards. All the placards had lame reformist slogans (admittedly with a few vaguely funny ones) and we were expecting a pretty tame march from A to B.

When we finally found the Anarchist (or “Radical Workers and Students”) block, after fighting our way through Trotskyists and NUS stewards, I was disappointed to see that it was pretty small and not in a very good position in terms of visibility. On the march itself, the only act of civil disobedience we saw was a short lived attempt by about 20 people to sit down and block the road.

However, when we passed the Milbank building the anarchists had been split up a little and when we looked back to try and spot some red and blag flags we were surprised to see that they were in amongst a group of probably hundreds of others.

People were running into the building trying to smash windows and graffiti-ing the walls, because we didn’t see exactly how it started we don’t know how true the mainstream media’s claim that a small group of anarchists “hijacked” the peaceful protest by instigating property damage is.

One thing though is for absolute certain, that self-identified anarchists were themselves only a small minority of all the people engaged in all the acts of civil disobedience and property damage.

Even at this point there were literally hundreds of people either directly pushing against police, throwing stuff at them or smashing things. The NUS claim that there were over 50 000 people in total at the demonstration and only a minority took part in the “violence”.

A “minority” of this number would mean far more people than usually attend demos in recent years.

That first incident seemed to die down quite soon and we assumed it would be easily put down by the Met, based on previous painful experience of their capabilities. Besides, we had already seen more property damage than had happened at the London G20 protests, and of a more suitably symbolic building so it had already been more of a successful demo than we’d been expecting.

We walked on and soon came to the end point of the march. Predictably enough for a demo organised by bureaucrats, we were expected to stand around listening to speeches and chanting in a space controlled by security guards and stewards. We decided “fuck this” and were on our way back down towards where we came from, when we noticed smoke coming from the courtyard in the Milbank building.

The energy there then was pretty excited and there were virtually no police in sight, there was a small line of cops at the entrance and people were already throwing stuff at them – to a degree rarely seen at demos in Britain.

However, we had received a call out to go to the business and innovation centre where apparently something was going down. We never made it there because as we were walking down we saw a crowd of people with a sound system break away from the crowds to the end point. They went down a side street and had a mini reclaim the streets style party with a line of riot police watching, whilst blocking the way to the lib dem headquarters. Amusingly that street was called “cowley street” the same name of a famous leader of the brighton squatting movement during the great depression.

People danced to dub step for a while and threw stuff at cops before going back toward the tory hq where the fires were still burning. When we go back there we saw a push and shove situation with the cops in front of one of the big glass walls, that was already nearly completely smashed apart.

The stand off continued for a while, with heightening tensions, amplified by shouts of support from thousands of people behind. Some demonstrators were already inside waving placards and further trying to help break the glass. When the crowds saw that people had got on to the roof and were waving banners, read and blag flags, with their fists in the air, they screamed encouragement and further energised those at the front lines. Eventually some people started smashing apart a different glass wall and the police didn’t even try to stop them. It came down with a resounding crash and we all piled in to the foyer of the building, there was probably over 100 people in this area, some smashing windows, some pushing against cops to gain to access to the stairs, all shouting “tory scum, tory scum”.

There was a tense stand off at the door for a while and the very few cops guarding it seemed shit scared and confused, finally this was resolved: we got the doors open. This enabled many to make their way through the building, smashing what they could and making their way to the roof. Many managed to escape through the fire exit after staying as long as they individually felt necessary, but according to news reports some were still inside hours later, and probably many got arrested.

The storming of the Tory party HQ occurred about an hour after the organised march had already started gathering at its final destination point to watch important people deliver pre-recorded (largely inaudible) messages on a giant TV screen.

A high-spirited spontaneous demo had been occupying the square outside of the building with a bonfire of placards since the march had passed it by en route. This was despite the stewards’ attempts to file everybody by the building unnoticed, and the crowd seemed a broad representation of demo participants (mostly unmasked with a variety of placards and signs); far from the ‘organised contingent of troublemaker anarchists’ that Aaron Porter, the MET and the mainstream media have predictably reported as at the heart of all transgressive action.

In fact, the radical student and workers’ bloc called for by sol fed and afed was disappointingly small and disorganised; comprising just a handful of red and black flags amongst other demonstrators, and seemed to get broken apart 2/3 of the way through the march when cops held the crowd back at a roundabout.

When the plate glass windows of the building started getting smashed, the atmosphere within the square was energetic. The entire crowd seemed behind the actions, cheering support for those at the front, calling for people to move in en masse, and continuously pushing forward in an attempt to do so.

This action did not seem in any way pre-planned, but happened spontaneously in the midst of a lively and diverse mass demo of students wanting to direct their anger directly at some of those responsible for selling out their futures (continual chants of ‘Tory scum’ and the like).

There were relatively few cops defending the building at this point and the crowd was able to push through at various points using bodymass with minimal physical interaction once the windows had been broken. Many, once in, set about helping others to join them by smashing other windows (lots of them without masks) to open the atrium up to the surging crowd.

Greater numbers were only prevented from getting into the atrium (which filled up quickly) by the lifts having been disabled and the stairwell being blocked off by cops with drawn batons. However the police were lacking in numbers and were prevented from forming a solid line by protestors linking arms and using effective bodymass (we witnessed one individual dearrested by the crowd after having been pulled by cops from this group).

Eventually the few police defending the door withdrew, enabling many of the crowd to join comrades on the roof.

Physical violence inside was minimal at this stage, consisting mainly just of pushing, with cops outnumbered and therefore unwilling to antagonise, and protestors intent only on getting further into the building. In fact most of the violence named by the news reports seems mainly to refer just to property damage.

This consisted mostly of smashed windows and fire hoses/extinguishers set off, although we have also heard reports of a fire extinguisher dropped from the roof, and we left relatively early.

The crowd packed into the square remained supportive of those within the building, cheering and waving at people on the roof. After less than half an hour of our having joined the initial group of occupiers on the roof, a decision was taken collectively by a spontaneous meeting of lots of those present to leave the building together as a group, which we did successfully, a small number of people remaining behind. Having locked their doors, the tory offices which occupied the lower floors of the building (and those inside them) remained untouched.

Report There Paul Mitchell

The march’s size massively exceeded expectations of the National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Union (UCU), who jointly called it, assembling students from almost every university and college in Britain. It was dominated by home-made banners denouncing the government. City workers and tourists clapped their hands in support.  

The Conservative’s Millbank headquarters near to the Houses of Parliament was broken into and occupied. A group barged into the lobby of Millbank before being forced out by police and security officers. They then began setting fire to placards outside the entrance. Windows in the office block were smashed and a number of smoke bombs thrown. More students then invaded the building, while hundreds more outside cheered them on and chanted “Tory scum”.

An action undertaken initially by a few individuals quickly became the focus of the pent-up anger of thousands of students, who face the prospect of a mountain of debt when they finish their studies, and a future of dead-end jobs. The government plans to increase tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year, which will make England and Wales the most expensive places in the world to study at a public university.

The government has also announced that the teaching budget for universities will be cut from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion by 2014―part of a package of cuts that will see state funding of universities almost entirely replaced by charges on students. Some universities will lose all their funding for teaching, especially those specializing in subjects such as information technology, social studies and the arts.

In London, 10 of the most prestigious universities could see their funding wiped out, including the London School of Economics, the Royal Academy of Music, the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Institute of Education, the Central School for Speech and Drama and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Nearly eight in ten young people will be put off university if annual fees are raised to £10,000, according to a study by the NUS.

Riot police were ordered in to the Millbank Tower to end the occupation, but initially scattered in disarray down side streets, prompting the Metropolitan Police commissioner to admit it was an “embarrassment” for his force. The Metropolitan Police say that 32 arrests were made and there are numerous reports of police violence, with film footage on social networking sites of students being hit indiscriminately with batons and riot shields.

The students’ action was an implicit rebuff to the pathetic strategy of “influencing” the coalition government being promoted by the NUS and UCU, focusing on demands for Liberal Democrat MPs to be “recalled” for failing to honour their election pledge to oppose a rise in tuition fees. A procedure to recall MPs does not even exist.

The establishment of such a procedure is only another worthless pre-election promise by the Lib-Dems. It is unlikely to come into being for several years under any circumstances and would be directed only at MPs guilty of “serious wrongdoing”―hardly likely to affect an MP carrying out government policy!

Inside parliament, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, speaking for the government in Prime Minister David Cameron’s absence, made clear that the cuts would go ahead, while Labour attempted to score a few points that commit the party to nothing whatsoever.

The NUS immediately denounced the occupation as “disgraceful” and as the work of a small minority of “troublemakers”. NUS president Aaron Porter told reporters that some people―“perhaps anarchists”―had “deliberately come to hijack the event”. The NUS web site led that night with a statement condemning “the violent actions of ‘rogue protesters’ who have undermined an otherwise peaceful protest”. The NUS even indicated it may not call further demonstrations and will confine itself to a “chasing down” Lib-Dem MPs who “break their promise”.

Patrick Smith, a journalism student at City University, repudiated these claims in the Guardian, insisting, “This was the action of students radicalised by cuts … today students smashed their way into the Tory party campaign HQ in a show of anger against a political elite they believe have abandoned them.”

“This kind of radical action shows that some students are disillusioned with the National Union of Students protest and lobby model,” he added. “There has been a significant segment of the student movement that has been pushing for more drastic action for a while. What has changed is that that segment has swelled to include a much wider section of the student community.”

The explosion of anger outside Tory party HQ is the first time any section of workers and youth has had a genuine opportunity to express their real feelings towards the government’s austerity measures, under conditions where the trade unions have systematically demobilised all opposition and sold out strikes.

It follows last week’s protest by 40,000 Irish students against rises in tuition fees, which was also viciously attacked by police using batons, dogs and horses, after students occupied the Ministry of Finance, and mass protests against austerity in France, Greece and Portugal.

These events testify to the extraordinary volatility of political and social relations in Britain, made all the more so by the absence of any outlet for rising tensions within the official party structures and trade unions. These tensions will, however, continue to assume ever-more explosive forms. They will inevitably find political expression―through the development of a mass movement against the government that must take the form of a political rebellion against rotten organisations such as the NUS.

Report four from Ian Bones Blog

First and controversially i want to give credit where it is due to the student members not only of the SWP but also of the other “trot” student groups. I’m not one to usually say this as the SWP are a hundred times more annoying to deal with in the small pond of the university than they are in the real world. But these comrades, and I today have no difficulty calling them comrades, actually followed their words with deeds and got stuck in with the rest of us, paper sales forgotten. Today these people acted like class conscious students and not like the pawns of their political cliques and I only hope they can keep it up.

Secondly and to some equaly controversially, i am pleased to say that the anarchos and libertarians were completely out done by our “non-political” fellow students. I don’t want to sound all wanky and go on about Temporary Autonomous Zones but something did seem to happen when that glass broke, it seemed that peoples inhibitions smashed with it. We all suddenly came to realise that the police were not only out numbered but out manoeuvred and out gunned. Students baring placard with slogans like “I only popped out for a pint of milk” were in no time at all happily breaking them over the heads of the nearest copper. And the first chant that these silverspooned students began after the doors went down and people got inside: “burn it down!-burn it down!- burn it down!” We realised that we not only controlled the entire building but also the square in front of it and the road it was on, the police were kettled in by us! Fires started to appear as people began stripping the card board from their placards in order to pass the wooden sticks to the front line burning the resulting piles. As the smoke rose so did the song (which leeds class war students did have the honour of singing first at the millbank) sing along with me: “build a bonfire, build a bonfire but the tories on the top! Put the libdems/coppers/bosses in the middle and we’ll burn the bloody lot!”. The samba band was met by a huge cheer, seriously, and believe me comrades there is nothing better than fighting against a police line with a tribal drum beat at you back.
Throwing shit at copper quickly became a student game, the scoring as follows: 10 points if you throw something and you hit a cop 20 points if you take a swing at one 50points if your blow/object hurts 100 points for blood/hospitalisation with bonus points awarded for the stealing of trunchions shields and helmets. We were a bit unsure of what to do with the truncions and helmets one we had them not finding them very effective against the cops body armour so these too became projectiles.
At the climax it started to snow. Students from the roof had located large foam fire extinguishers and set them off from the top of the building, dubstep blaring from the bike sound sytems and chants and songs rippling across the crowd the violence against the building and the coppers seemed to become part of the dance, quite litterally in some cases, students would dance in the buffer zone infront of the police only to finish their set with a well aimed kick punch of lugie to the face of a cobble stone through a window. as soon at the fire extinguisers were empty these too became weapons hurled down from the roof on the heads of the coppers forcing them to retreat under the awning of the building allowing the students to tighten their corden around them.

Bouncing along to a samba beat with an in time rendition of “lets go fucking mental” I felt that this could really be the beginning of something big, hopefully now the anarchist movement and in particular our elders and betters, and all those who still beleive that you can’t be working class and go to uni will give the students the support they deserve AND stop treating them as a seperate class in society, use us! We are workers, in fact we are paying huge sums of money to be trained in to better workers we’re angry and have litle to lose.

Leeds Class war students favourite chant: “we ‘ate tories and we ‘ate tories, we ‘ate tories and we ‘ate tories, we ‘ate tories and we ‘ate tories, we are the tory [clap] haters!

It helped that the anarchist students were fairly on it: smashing down the cctv cameras and sending the fit team off with a bleeding head very early on in the proceedings, but all in all I’m happy to announce we were outclassed by the ingenuity and fighting spirit of students who had never been on a demo before.

at current count there were 32 arrests, not bad on a demo of 45,000, (and we lay-about students managed to hospitalise 5 coppers at the last count.) THIS IS IMPORTANT COMRADES, THOSE ARRESTED WILL BE FACING SERIOUS CHARGES AND MANY FOR MANY OF THEM THIS WILL BE THERE FIRST DEMO AND POSSIBLY FIRST ARREST, FIND OUT FROM YOUR LOCAL UNI WHAT SOLIDARITY ACTIONS ARE GOING ON (leeds comrades look out for the new and imroved leeds class war blog) AND OFFER WHAT EVER SUPPORT YOU CAN, IF WE WANT THIS SORT OF STUFF TO CONTINUE AND ESSCULATE PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THEY’LL BE LOOKED AFTER.

I’ll leave the last words to my fellow students, chanting in unison against the terrified and out numbered metropolitan police: “You ain’t seen nothing yet, b-b-b-baby you just ain’t seen nothing yet”….

1 Comment

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One response to “TORY HQ SMASHED UP – FUCKING BRILLIANT!

  1. Encouraging to read these rapidly-produced first hand reports. An antidote to the predictable ‘handful of trouble-makers’ rhetoric provided by mainstream media news.

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