Students are planning on protesting outside of a speech being given by Nick Clegg, on Tuesday. The Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats will be in Oxford to deliver the 2014 European Studies Centre Annual Lecture. The subject of his talk shall be ‘Britain’s Place in the EU’. Tickets for the event are now oversubscribed.
The European Studies Centre is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Europe and seeks to bring together economists, sociologists, social anthropologists and students of culture. The Centre was established in 1976 with funding from the Volkswagen Foundation.
Previous givers of the European Studies Centre’s Annual Lecture include German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble, in 2013, and in 2006, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The protest is being organised by the Oxford Activist Network (OAN), which was founded in January. The group seeks to bring together Oxford students, staff of the University, local councillors, Oxford Brookes students and Ruskin College students. The time and location of the protest is to be decided on Monday.
Clegg’s visit will come two days ahead of the City Council and European Parliament elections being held on May 22nd. The Deputy Prime Minister is also participating in a question and answer session with readers of the Oxford Mail, on the same day.
Clegg has attracted controversy for signing the NUS’ ‘Vote for Students’ pledge prior to the 2010 general election, promising to oppose any increase in student tuition fees, before tripling tuition fees in government. Clegg apologised for breaking the pledge in a party political broadcast, in September 2012. The apology was later remixed into a song.
Xavier Cohen, who is a member of the Oxford Activist Network and is helping to organise the demonstration, commented, “No one has forgotten Nick Clegg’s betrayal of the student movement in 2010 — he promised us free education, then with the Tories, tripled our tuition fees. Now he expects to be welcomed onto our campus. If we take the NUS’s support for free education seriously, which we should, then we need to show mass opposition to Clegg on Tuesday and show everyone that students haven’t forgotten the stab in the back, and will fight against the marketisation of education.”
A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats commented, “Nick Clegg is the only party leader standing up for Britain’s place in Europe; protecting jobs, helping fight climate change and cross border crime, as well as millions of pounds of EU funding for our universities and the right for our students to take advantage of the Erasmus scheme.”