Student protests: in pictures

Despite some clashes with police, it does not look like there will be a repeat of 10 November's riot

Students across the country have taken action today in a second wave of student protests. As yet, it does not seem that there will be a repeat of the violence seen on 10 November when Tory HQ was occupied.

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Following the police admission that they underestimated the level of disorder that developed on 10 November, they are taking no risks today. Paul Lewis of the Guardian reports: "I'm reliably informed there are 800 officers deployed in London today -- three times more than were on the streets for the far larger march on 10 November."

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Above, demonstrators clash with police. While this second wave of protests is more dispersed, with more than 25,000 students taking part in marches, walkouts, occupations, and direct action across the UK, the media spotlight is inevitably on London.

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While there have not been any scenes akin to those at Millbank, protesters are angry. Above, a mob of students breaks into a police van.

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By 3.15pm, the BBC reported that three students have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and theft. One policeman has been injured with a broken arm. Reports of "kettling" protesters mean that the debate on this method of crowd control is likely to reopen.

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Above, protesters throw a firework at police.

Organised via social-networking sites, this demonstration is not officially affiliated with the National Union of Students, though its cause is the same: the planned rise in university fees and scrapping of educational maintenance allowance.

Many libraries have been occupied, including Oxford's Bodleian Library. There have been marches and other direct actions in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol, Southampton, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

But while the action is spread across the UK today, the media spotlight -- and police attention -- is inevitably on London. It's worth noting that the coalition has utilised a provision in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to ban protest within one kilometre from any point on Parliament Square, despite its promise to prioritise civil liberties.

 

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Why isn't Labour putting forward Corbynite candidates?

Despite his successes as a candidate, the organisational victories have gone the way of Corbyn's opponents. 

The contest changes, but the result remains the same: Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred candidate defeated in a parliamentary selection. Afzhal Khan is Labour’s candidate in the Manchester Gorton by-election and the overwhelming favourite to be the seat’s next MP.

Although Khan, an MEP, was one of  the minority of Labour’s European MPs to dissent from a letter from the European parliamentary Labour party calling for Jeremy Corbyn to go in the summer of 2016, he backed Andy Burnham and Tom Watson in 2015, and it is widely believed, fairly or unfairly, that Khan had, as one local activist put it, “the brains to know which way the wind was blowing” rather than being a pukka Corbynite.

For the leader’s office, it was a double defeat;  their preferred candidate, Sam Wheeler, was kept off the longlist, when the party’s Corbynsceptics allied with the party’s BAME leadership to draw up an all ethnic minority shortlist, and Yasmine Dar, their back-up option, was narrowly defeated by Khan among members in Manchester Gorton.

But even when the leadership has got its preferred candidate to the contest, they have been defeated. That even happened in Copeland, where the shortlist was drawn up by Corbynites and designed to advantage Rachel Holliday, the leader’s office preferred candidate.

Why does the Labour left keep losing? Supporters combination of bad luck and bad decisions for the defeat.

In Oldham West, where Michael Meacher, a committed supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s, was succeeded by Jim McMahon, who voted for Liz Kendall, McMahon was seen to be so far ahead that they had no credible chance of stopping him. Rosena Allin-Khan was a near-perfect candidate to hold the seat of Tooting: a doctor at the local hospital, the seat’s largest employer, with links to both the Polish and Pakistani communities that make up the seat’s biggest minority blocs.  Gillian Troughton, who won the Copeland selection, is a respected local councillor.

But the leadership has also made bad decisions, some claim.  The failure to get a candidate in Manchester Gorton was particularly egregious, as one trade unionist puts it: “We all knew that Gerald was not going to make it [until 2020], they had a local boy with good connections to the trade unions, that contest should have been theirs for the taking”. Instead, they lost control of the selection panel because Jeremy Corbyn missed an NEC meeting – the NEC is hung at present as the Corbynsceptics sacrificed their majority of one to retain the chair – and with it their best chance of taking the seat.

Others close to the leadership point out that for the first year of Corbyn’s leadership, the leader’s office was more preoccupied with the struggle for survival than it was with getting more of its people in. Decisions in by-elections were taken on the hop and often in a way that led to problems later down the line. It made sense to keep Mo Azam, from the party’s left, off the shortlist in Oldham West when Labour MPs were worried for their own seats and about the Ukip effect if Labour selected a minority candidate. But that enraged the party’s minority politicians and led directly to the all-ethnic-minority shortlist in Manchester Gorton.

They also point out that the party's councillor base, from where many candidates are drawn, is still largely Corbynsceptic, though they hope that this will change in the next round of local government selections. (Councillors must go through a reselection process at every election.)

But the biggest shift has very little to do with the Labour leadership. The big victories for the Labour left in internal battles under Ed Miliband were the result of Unite and the GMB working together. Now they are, for various reasons, at odds and the GMB has proven significantly better at working shortlists and campaigning for its members to become MPs.  That helps Corbynsceptics. “The reason why so many of the unions supported Jeremy the first time,” one senior Corbynite argues, “Is they wanted to move the Labour party a little bit to the left. They didn’t want a socialist transformation of the Labour party. And actually if you look at the people getting selected they are not Corbynites, but they are not Blairites either, and that’s what the unions wanted.”

Regardless of why, it means that, two years into Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour left finds itself smaller in parliament than it was at the beginning.  

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.