NUS President Liam Burns Concerned #Demo2012 Student Protests Will Turn Violent

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LIAM BURNS NUS PROTEST
Liam Burns is concerned about violence during the Demo2012 protests | PA

The president of the National Union of Students has revealed his concern that this year's student protests will echo the violence of 2010, when angry crowds went on a rampage through London.

Liam Burns said violence could overshadow the main focuses of the demonstration, which are education, employment and empowerment, in an interview with student newspaper The Mancunion.

"One of the things I can’t do is stop any arsehole from coming along on the day, and that’s true of any action we have in London," he said. "I’m not naïve enough to think, though, that we shouldn’t mitigate the chance of risk."

And, true to his words, the #Demo2012 route has been engineered to miss out the Conservative headquarters at Millbank, which saw some of the worst violence during the 2010 protest.

nus student demo route

The demonstration route will see students marching from Temple tube station to Kennington

"I think we’ve done everything we can to negate violence," Burns added. "All of our students' unions are quite clear about this being a peaceful demonstration. I think we've set the tone right."

"For me the reason that violence will never form a part of this campaign is that it doesn’t make sense tactically. You want public sympathy on your side; violence is not going to engender public sympathy."

Presumably, Burns is hoping to replicate the success of last year's demonstration, where there were few, if any, occasions of violence, despite concerns over police threats to use rubber bullets.

Burns is highly critical of the violence used in the protest two years ago, saying the NUS' national executive committee has agreed it will not be supporting "any form of violence".

"One of the things that I’ve always said about Millbank is that I don’t think the act of peacefully occupying a locus of power, when you consider the trebling of tuition fees, was in any way disproportionate."

"But when you start smashing windows, causing vandalism and harassing people, it’s not Nick Clegg or David Cameron who’s going to come down and clean that up. It’s cleaners that work in the building and we’re trying to claim that we’re fighting to get their kids into uni."

The protest, which takes place on 21 November, will see students travelling to London from around the UK, with some coming from as far afield as Aberdeen.

Although Burns does admit "it would be stupid to say I wasn’t [concerned]," in the eventuality of any violence, he seems to be fully capable of coping.

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