Saturday, 12 February 2011

FAO Glasgow Cuts Brigade and The Free Hetherington

Hi. I’m Michael S. Collins, a Glasgow writer, pest and Glasgow Uni alumni.

It’s funny. The last time I got myself involved in a protest at Glasgow University, I found myself censored off the radio. It was the Summer of 06, the students and the SRC were protesting for the rights of workers facing the axe to benefit the coffers of an unpopular Principal: sound familiar? That time around, it was Sir Muir Russell, and I was asked to give comment about the student protest supporting the staff. I said: “It is a good thing to behold, as any one principal who can announce the sacking of two thousand clerical and cleaning jobs as a budget cut on the same day he awards himself a hefty pay rise can only be described as an ethical coward.”

It never made the radio. I was clearly conspired against.

They say student protest is dead. Does student protest look dead to you, who see The Free Hetherington standing tall, proud and majestic against the tidal wave of uninspired for profit cuts hitting this fine institution? When over 300 pack the Queen Margaret Union in support of valued members of staff, pilloried for reasons of their degree? When two thousand plus are to take to protest? In Glasgow, the student protest is never dead, because Glasgow was the home of the social protest, born in a spirit of industrial downpour and working class thirst, and in Glasgow, the protest is never dead against injustice. Nor shall it.

If the economy states that we must throw academics to the wayside, and kill off subjects prematurely, and freeze out students across the country who would otherwise have taken the chance to go to uni, in the name of profit, then that economy is a false one and must be put down, in favour of one which supports the valued academics and the subjects. To those who say “There is no other way”, I say, to HELL with them, there’s always another way. Those with the money will find it, that is what they are born to do. We should not allow them to use this advantage to run rule over the vulnerable. Former Rector of this university, Jimmy Reid, once so eloquently put it: “Don’t get involved in the rat race. We’re not rats, we’re human beings.”

They say that jobs are being made at the uni. Fourteen medical professorships. And yet, they plan to kill off Nursing. Remind me again, who do they plan to run the hospitals of tomorrow, to do the actual day-to-day patient saving? Consultant doctors? Clearly less nurses is a good thing, after all, a sharp decrease in the terminally ill living would save the nation countless millions, and we are in a recession. Sack the nurses and bring in compulsory euthanasia, that’ll be the next step. There is little point in fourteen new professors, at the cost of thousands of jobs, and thousands of lost opportunities. It isn’t even a bandage to cover a decapitation, it is using a towel to wipe up the Somme.

The profits gained wont just cost good people jobs, or good people opportunities, they can in the long run only lead to good people losing their lives in the name of keeping the books. So they must be fought.

And for those who think business always wins. The uni council can’t be beaten. Well, a few years ago there was a sit in protest at the university. The uni was funding a company that was constructing bombs that were being used to hit Palestinian orphanages. Several students didn’t like this fact, so took over the computing labs and staged a sit in until said funding was cut. An anti-protest protest was started up, and I was asked for comment once more on the anti-protest. A quick email was sent, swiftly rebutting every one of the anti-protest’s points, sent to the leaders of the anti-protest, members of the council, and several leading newspapers. (Yes, asking me for comment is usually asking for trouble. It’s my grans Clan Cameron genes, you see!) The uni caved within 5 hours of the email being sent. I won’t take credit, as that’s most likely a coincidence, and my part is away to the side of the action – it’s just the part of the story I know. The sit-in worked, the funding stopped, and lives were most likely saved.

So if they buckle once, they will buckle again. If we keep our cool, and don’t give up. Some may try to lead you astray. Others may try to bully you. To intimidate you. Don’t let them win with their Iago ways. The path to victory is filled with potholes deeper than those usually found on Glasgow Roads, but like Glasgow Roads, they are traversable with effort.

So good luck. I salute you all. We are all proud of you. I know Glasgow University’s own Jimmy Reid would be too. As would those pioneers of social disobedience in Glasgow, the Red Clydesiders, including Glasgow University’s own Jimmy Maxton. This university has been the hotbed of successful protest for hundreds of years. All the alumni and your predecessors, alive and departed, are at your side at this turning hour.

May the day break bring a great success!