Peaceful demonstrations against British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party turned ugly today as protesting students overran a police blockade guarding the party headquarters.
Up to 50,000 people, mostly students, marched through Westminister, angry at the British government’s plans to significantly increase university tuition fees while simultaneously cutting funding to high education. This is a reversal of a pledge the Conservative Party made in its campaigning during the 2010 elections to not do just that. The party has stated its regret but has cited continually increasing costs of education as necessitating this change.
Although recent demonstrations had been peaceful, protesters smashed windows of the Conservative Party HQ, vandalized the building, and attacked police officers, with 7 officers being injured along with 7 students hurt as well. Meanwhile, demonstrations had spread to fellow coalition leader Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrat party headquarters as well.
Student groups, the chief of the London Metropolitan Police, and party officials were quick to renounce the violence, but as one protester said, people have found it necessary to take matters into their own hands to counter this unpopular policy shift; some have accused the Conservatives of hypocrisy.