From Aaron Porter, NUS President,
I have never been prouder of the student movement. People said that students had become apathetic, students were out for themselves and not interested in politics. We proved them wrong, again and again and again.
Over fifty thousand people turned up to support our campaign in November, dozens of local spontaneous demonstrations have taken place since, there have been scores of occupations and hundreds of thousands have taken action across the country for future generations of students. And just today hundreds of people have lobbied their MPs and demonstrated their opposition to the Government’s flawed plans.
We have had the support of lecturers and teachers, of trade unionists, of school children, of social movements, of journalists, of campaigning organisations, of parents. Our friends in the Nations have worked tirelessly in supporting our efforts, we really couldn’t have done it with out them. Their victories will undoubtedly influence our campaign in the future and we congratulate them and thank them for all that they have done. I thank all of these people and yourselves for your solidarity and tireless work.
I congratulate you and I urge you to continue the fight. It has been an astonishing, amazing and unprecedented campaign and it must go on.
There has been much debate of the politics and the policies of these proposals over the last few weeks. And it is clear from the exchanges in the chamber today that NUS has been critical in shaping the debate.
We have had the support of the Labour Party. We have had the support, and we should not forget it, of many grass roots members of the Liberal Democrats, and at least some of its MPs, who have bravely stood up to the whips and voted with us tonight. We have had the support of some Conservatives who understand the damage to social mobility that would be caused by this measure. There is opposition to this plan right across the political spectrum. Not a matter of right versus left, but so clearly a matter of right versus wrong.
We have had the support of many people who are still at school. Their commitment and action has been an inspiration to us, and they show us that the student movement has a strong future.
We will never forget what happened here tonight, and we will never forgive those who have betrayed us.
We will hold them to account for their lies and their cowardice, and the destruction they have caused to our education system.
We are still in the fight of our lives. It goes on; on Monday we will be opposing the slashing of the EMAs for the poorest students in further education. We will be opposing the regressive elements of the Government white paper in the new year and we will continue to oppose a government that believes there is no public benefit from arts, humanities and social science.
I feel so honoured to be the NUS President at this time. The student movement has never been stronger and we must keep up the fight.