Apologies for not posting anything yesterday, it was a busy one and we are all in need of some serious rest. We marched out of occupation just before 9 after another manic session of moving everything that was left to our new office. Everyone was in a great mood and not just because we were no longer going to be living on requisitioned sofas and listening to the rhythmic snoring of the louder members of the group. After meeting up with several staff and friends at the coach we set off to Manchester. The journey was pretty quick and the bantering started getting friendlier as people were calming down.
When we got to Manchester, there were some jokes about the police checks but actually, they were all pretty helpful and didn’t seem at all bent on arresting ring leaders as had previously been suggested. The crowd was beginning to gather as we arrived at the back of the museum and people were talking and seeing where everybody was from. We met up with the Leeds UCU coach, the Leeds occupation coach and Youth Fight for Jobs and Education to being the march to Platt Fields Park.
While we were waiting Jordi spoke with Sally Hunt from UCU and was interrupted by none other than Aaron Porter, which was hilarious. Jordi in his usual manner asked Porter “so, your union is a bit crap” to which he replied, “it is under funding”. Of course it is Aaron you spineless weasel, that is exactly it. It has nothing to do with the fact that rather than being a student’s union, you have been running a discount card factory for companies even less ethical than you? Aaron Porter was due to speak at the rally but didn’t make it as he was chased off by angry students. At first this seemed really funny as he has repeatedly failed to carry out his role with any decency or professional responsibility but then we realised that actually, we were robbed of the opportunity to boo him off stage at the rally which would have been a much greater statement.
The rally itself was cold but informative and a lot of fun. The spirit in the crowd was great and we met up with some old friends from UCU and Leeds met and even some of the guys from Teeside Against the cuts, who we are hoping to go to some uncut demos with very soon. As we were milling about the crowd and listening to the speeches, the spirit was high but at the same time a lot of the messages being sent from the front were the same messages we have been hearing for some time. There was no real sense of the alternative or what was next, which was disappointing.
During the speeches however, a group of protestors left on an apparent tip they had seen Aaron Porter again. This was during a speech by someone from the PCS and was not only really rude but totally against the feel of the rally. There are many reasons this wasn’t ideal, which I am sure will be discussed at length but for us, it was a waste of an opportunity to show everyone that we are not interested in tearing everything apart but protesting peacefully to make the point that we have a point. The group that broke off were kettled and yet again, the police overreacted. From what we have heard it was mostly dispersed peacefully and one of friends was kettled for a while but it did not last that long. We heard that everyone from our coach could get back and swapped some people with our own coach and set off back to Leeds for a victory party.
After much chatting about all the chanting the great feeling of the march to the rally, we were all discussing what was next, how we were going to start the next step, everyone felt the day had been well worth all of the effort. We pulled back up to the university and went straight for something to eat and the vegans went off to buy something from a place that didn’t feel the need to cover everything in dead things. Then back up to the SU for some serious drinking and just chilling out. Jordi and Andy went to do an interview with Ann Czernik who has been amazing throughout the whole campaign so far and eat some food in the office before going back to the SU. When we returned our socialist friends were singing in the SU and the large part of the hardcore occupiers were very drunk. So, great day all round with some healthy hangovers to follow. At some point today we are going to have to unpack all the stuff in the office and make it actually look like an office on Monday and then the next stage of Leeds Trinity Students Against Cuts can begin.