The freezing evening saw thirty or so protesters – predominantly from the Anti-Cuts Movement – gather outside the Glasgow University Union in an emergency demonstration against the annual “St.Andrews Dinner” hosted by Glasgow University Conservatives. Guests included Roger Helmer MEP and Bill Aitken MSP. The protest was modest but clearly voiced their opinions against the hypocrisy of throwing a decadent dinner party in light of the fact that universities (and other institutions) across the UK are facing drastic cuts. Students in Glasgow have seen lecturers losing their jobs courses disappearing and facilities unable to develop due to these cuts, all the name of government “austerity” promoted by a Conservative led coalition in Westminster. The protestors wanted to know how money could be spared for events like this, but not for the preservation of education – especially on the campus of one of Glasgow’s most important education institutes.
GUM arrived to see at least three police vans (later joined by at lest three more) and a disproportionate amount of police officers for what was clearly a legal and peaceful picket line. It later transpired that Colin Woods, president of the GUU, had alerted the police – although he had apparently not warranted the size of the police presence that would arrive. Woods was quick to state that he was not against the demonstration, but felt it was an “attack” on the GUU, which does not hold political alliance with any party.The police however found it necessary to have a strong presence at the picket line, although protestors stated that they were mostly not a threatening or obtrusive force – only asking that the protestors refrained from swearing in their chants, because children may be present.
However, police conflict did occur when a member of the Glasgow University Conservatives found it hard to get past the protesters, and in the subsequent struggle, three protestors were deemed to have acted aggressively and were arrested. Later they were released with ASBOs. It was at this point that the tension rose, as police refused to answer exactly why they had been arrested at a legal protest – and a rumour swiftly swept round that it was under the “terrorist act.” Questions were also raised concerning the provocative actions of some G.U Conservative members towards the protestors – but the police did not comment. The protest continued peacefully, with the protestors leaving in unison.