Fake Student Demo Planned for 20 December?

December 14, 2010

A previously unknown group called the “UK People’s Initiative” has called a protest “march of resistance” on 20 December, starting in London’s Piccadilly Circus at noon and terminating at an undisclosed location. As their Facebook page puts it “The MPs have broken their pledges! They thought they won. Let’s prove them wrong! This time we shall make a difference! Invite everyone!”

But the group has aroused suspicions on UK Indymedia and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which organized the previous London actions. As Joanne Freire of the NCAFC puts it, “It is taking place in an apolitical area of London and all organisers we get in touch with are quite evasive on both information as well as actual communication” while “The date is also quite odd, as it is already quite into the Christmas holidays and even Parliament is closed at that point.”

More disturbingly, Freire adds that “We have heard of some events being planned by EDL provocateurs” and “The last thing we want is to help in some sort of trap organised by a fascist group or maybe even undercover police and [to] see a few thousand students being beaten up, arrested and portrayed as violent and disorderly, which we are naturally not.”

Additionally, the UK People’s Initiative has been forced to issue an apology to the NCAFC and trade unions for claiming to have their support. Now, they say that the event is “organised by ordinary students, NOT by the police, the government or radicals.”

The NCAFC should not claim to be the sole source of legitimate opposition to the government’s higher education policies, but even critics of the NCAFC are suspicious of the UK People’s Initiative. As one poster on Indymedia puts it, “I don’t like the NCAFC’s bullshit proprietoral attitude to demos either….but even I’m slightly wary about this date.”

Another poster on Indymedia suggests that one of the organizers of the event is a fan of the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who in turn has been involved with the EDL, but this is not indisputable evidence that the December 20 action is a sham.

There is also the possibility that if the EDL or police wish to organize “fake” demonstrations then this could rebound upon them. As another Indymedia poster argues, “Having 1000’s of angry protesters in central London the week before xmas is brilliant. So what if right wingers set it up-there will be 1000’s more of us there than them-or there would have if idiots who like their organised and stewarded and totally ineffectual.”

Events like this pose a difficult choice for activists. If they wish to keep the momentum up over the festive period, should they attend a march which may or may not be associated with the far right? Do they accept the privileged position which the NCAFC is assuming, relying on its ability to deliver safer, more predictable, but more professionally organized demos?

It will be interesting to see how the police approach this event as well. I wonder if any shop windows will be left invitingly unpoliced, or if any derelict police vans will be left undefended?


One Response to “Fake Student Demo Planned for 20 December?”

  1. Ed Maltby Says:

    The NCAFC was behind the call and the mobilisation for the walkouts on the 24th, 30th of November and 9th of December. It’s not true to pretend that the NCAFC is in the business of organising or calling ‘soft’, ‘respectable’, NUS-style protests. It is an organisation of struggle.

    The question is not, ‘do you want to go on a safe NCAFC-sponsored demo or let a thousand flowers bloom?’ – it is, ‘do you want lots of people to go to what is likely a pre-planned ambush, organised by far-right hooligans?’

    The demonstration called by the UKPI or whoever they are might well end in one-sided violence, by EDL-sympathetic thugs (or a very small far-right grouplet trying to use a big stunt to catapult itself into prominence – has anyone looked this up on far-right messageboards for clues?). We don’t want that to happen.

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