“Education is a basic human right” – John McDonnell addresses free education demo

John McDonnell

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell addressed a rally for free education in London today, telling protesters that “education is a basic human right”. You can watch some of his short speech below.

The march, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) was also welcomed by Jeremy Corbyn, who said that there was “an opportunity to change course, and to change Labour into a force that represents students’ desire for free and accessible education”. McDonnell and Corbyn have long been advocates for the abolition of tuition fees, although it is unusual for a leader and Shadow Chancellor to publicly support a policy that contradicts their party’s official policy.

Corbyn first gave his backing to the march several weeks ago, when he was spotted by one of the demonstration’s organisers on a bus and posed for a photograph:


Speaking to the crowd outside a University of London building earlier today, McDonnell said: “Education is a basic human right. It is not something to be bought and sold. This generation will teach the Tories that we will not stand by and allow them to destroy your futures.”

In a statement prior to the march today, Corbyn called for the students to “keep protesting” and said he wanted to see students fees abolished across the UK:

“There are no student fees in Scotland, Germany and twelve other European countries, I want to bring all UK students into line with that sensible approach.

“We all benefit from education, collectively as a society, not just as individuals.

“Keep protesting, keep campaigning for justice. Education is a right, not a privilege.”

Momentum, the new pro-Corbyn group, also supported the protest, and used it as an opportunity to make sure that politically active student were registered to vote, as part of their Democracy SOS campaign. Along with student Labour activists, they also signed up new party members.

However, early reports suggest there have been some outbreaks of violence between protesters and police.

UPDATE: See McD0nnell call for a “peaceful demonstration” in his speech to students:

More from LabourList


We provide our content free, but providing daily Labour news, comment and analysis costs money. Small monthly donations from readers like you keep us going. To those already donating: thank you.

If you can afford it, can you join our supporters giving £10 a month?

And if you’re not already reading the best daily round-up of Labour news, analysis and comment…