British student rally ends in farce
Updated Fri, 23 Nov 2012 11:12 AM IST
A rally by thousands of British students in protest at tuition fees and youth unemployment had to be abandoned Thursday due to heckles from activists after a march had passed off largely peacefully.
Students from across Britain had braved driving rain to take part in the demonstration in central London, and there was no repeat of the violent scenes from two years ago when the offices of the governing Conservative Party were ransacked.
Demonstrators marched to the Houses of Parliament, where some of them were briefly involved in scuffles with police.
The majority of students marched on to the official rallying point in south London, chanting: "It's cold, it's wet, and we're in loads of debt."
But as the rally began, a group of activists who believe the National Union of Students has failed to stand up to the government over the sharp rise in tuition fees disrupted the proceedings by chanting "NUS, shame on you".
NUS president Liam Burns was pelted with eggs after he attempted to calm the crowd and called for the voices of "progressive campaigners" to be heard, but he was chased off the stage when a 20-strong group of activists stormed it.
The NUS said 10,000 students took part in the demonstration in London, although police said it could not give a number of protesters.
Two-thirds of universities introduced sharply increased fees for tuition in this academic year, with average fees of around £8,500 ($13,550, 10,560 euros). More institutions are set to follow suit.