Over a thousand people assembled in Piccadilly Circus and marched to Westminster on Wednesday 19 January to protest against the government’s plans to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year old students. Protests were held elsewhere in the UK.
The demonstration was called by the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts in response to the proposed debate and vote over the issue of EMA in the House of Commons, where the Labour Party would attempt to overturn the decision to scrap the scheme. The vote was lost, but considering the limited preparation time, the initiative shown by the student movement and the subsequent mobilisation resulted in a fantastic turn out on the streets.
People began to assemble in Piccadilly Circus, before proceeding towards Westminster via Embankment. The mood of the demonstration was good natured and peaceful, with marchers determined to show their opposition to government cuts amidst a lively carnival atmosphere. As the demonstration flowed into Parliament Square, the crowd were entertained by an impromptu open-mic performance from various hip-hop artists, whilst the sound speaker on wheels catered for the dub step heads.
The mood of the demonstration was a testament to the good character of the marchers and highlighted how a demonstration can take place peacefully when the police use tact and restraint rather than the open belligerence seen on previous days of action.