November 28, 2010 Leave a comment
The wry protest songs, satirical posters and occasional smiles on the faces of students involved in the occupation of UCL, Jeremy Bentham room, does not take away from the fact that the room is a place of constant work, intense planning, sporadic meetings and tweeting (something which Channel 4 have now congratulated the occupiers on).
One moment there is an English Literature lecturer admitting his flaws as a protestor and his dislike of filmic depictions of Maoists, and then even before you have time to put on a second jumper in the bitter cold, a group has formulated to discuss the next way of attracting media attention and capturing the hearts and minds of the public.
A call is made for Lib Dem members to raise their hands in order to get hold of local contact details, of activists who perhaps feel betrayed by their ministerial representatives, but nobody raises their hand. When I was at university, every left wing protest that took place, be that opposition to fees (somewhat cheaper then than they are now, but no less disgraceful) or the Iraq war, was overrepresented by yellow banners. Now, signatories opposing fee increases such as Nick Clegg are the figures of mockery – and for good reason. This a sign of things to come.
Later on tonight there will be comedy provided by Mark Thomas and Chris Coltrane, but as that takes place banners will be created, and pasta made for hungry revolters. The lights will dim and the cans of cheap booze will come out, Jaffa cakes will be passed around and hashtags will be created, but all the time people congregate to ensure leaflets are created to hand out in the week, that Parliamentary offices are contacted, press releases are sent out on time and solicitor support numbers are added to. While there is room for Dionysus, it is married with work unparallelled in many campaign offices – and more makeshift beds than I’ve ever seen.
Michael Sayeau who is just finishing up a talk mentions how unique it is walking into the room and seeing laptops on the tables; it is the level of communication that is keeping this occupation successful, the action finally has the support of Aaron Porter (who did quite enough dithering, but decided he supports all non-violent protest) and praise is increasing from the pens of journalists. But the work is unceasing, in fact the positivity creates motivation for the activists. Tomorrow is another day, and the efforts are really paying off.