With no major violent acts, around 20 arrests and attendance way below the expected numbers #Nov9 runs the risk of being remembered as "the protest where nothing happened". But is that really the case?
From the very beginning yesterday's march seemed to be about something else. Yes, students came together to protest against the fees and cuts, to ask for the re-introduction of the EMA and a better version of the Education White Paper. However, the most prominent organised groups that took part in today's demo were, since the early hours of the morning, promoting various other dates and actions.
One of the serially produced and widely distributed placards given out this morning announced what #Nov9 was all about: "Protest, Strike, Occupy". Yesterday's protest was a forum calling for mass mobilisation, an invitation open to all the sectors in society. Mark Bergfeld, from the Education Activist Network, articulated this sentiment in his closing speech at the Moorgate Rally,= towards the end of the day: "We're not just complaining against fees and cuts, we are fighting for another world", he said. Michael Chessum, an organiser for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, also highlighted this idea by saying "We are not a one-off parade, we're a student movement"; other versions of the similar thought were also shared by other speakers at that rally.
#Nov9 is about Nov30. The people behind today's protest, as well as those who have been campaigning in the build up to the demonstration, want to see the '99%' out on the streets, expressing disapproval for the current governmental policies. In this light, it seems like the Student Movement, which caused quite a stir last year, is being pushed in line with the Occupy Movement's ideals. Organised civil action will carry on, "until our voice reaches No.10", as a protester said today.
In spite of the growing sympathy for those who take the time to show their anger at the Coalition's line of government, the number of protesters doesn't seem to be growing. The movement's make-up might be varied but these demos seem to have a high number of regulars. Could this have something to do with location, timing, the semantics used?, were the 'missing' 5,000 scared away by the police's announcement of the potential use of rubber bullets? Or did they choose not join today's march seeing the very shy achievements of previous mobilisations?
Whatever the reason, yesterday's March In The City refocused the direction of the student movement, reinforcing the trend it started: that of uneasiness and mistrust in the Coalition's policies. With its eye on Nov30th and the participation of the OccupyLSX group, today's march laid the foundations for a stronger and more cohesive movement.