Ahead of today's day of action against the tuition fee rises, SOAS students have moved into occupation. Here's a video from inside courtesy of Counterfire:
In his comment on the call for another national protest on Socialist Unity, Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football argues occupations, walkouts, and demos are a "disastrous" strategy that will not stop the fees. Instead, echoing the NUS's line, he suggests students ought to be targeting LibDem marginals and particularly those that were won thanks to tactical vote-switiching in the election.
Right now that is a recipe for demobilisation and failure.
Firstly, the 'unofficial' student movement is a decentralised beast. While figures are beginning to emerge with a certain level of authority it is down to local groups at individual universities who are taking up the slack and organising actions. While Clare Solomon did an excellent job of challenging the establishment narrative in the media, radicalised and radicalising students are more likely to follow the lead of the people they know at their institutions. This means at present a coherent strategy is very unlikely to be adopted by the movement (which, of course, does not preclude anyone from arguing for one).
Second, the movement has momentum. The leadership of the NUS would like nothing more for students to return to their classes and engage in letter writing campaigns to LibDem MPs. It's safe, it allows the leadership to manage expectations and control the opposition against fee rises, it enables them to lead a quiet life and, most importantly, it doesn't jeopardise their future careers.
Thirdly, the wave of occupations and protests does not stop putting pressure on LibDem MPs. No one is arguing the NUS shouldn't lobby LibDems, rather what many in the student movement find objectionable is their desire to limit it to those kinds of "action". In fact, the more protests, the more occupations, the more marches strengthen the hand of the movement vis a vis LibDems worrying about their parliamentary seats. You can bet some of them are more worried now after the massive angry demo on the 10th than they would be had students, as in previous years, resorted in the main to polite lobbying.
Mark falsely counterposes the two approaches and ends up backing the 'steady-as-she-goes' letter writing campaign of the NUS. He fails to realise that in politics the constitutional niceties of business as usual is always conditioned by what is happening outside the Westminster Village. By undertaking direct action in large numbers students are demonstrating to the powers that be how angry they are. LibDems who choose to ignore it do so at their peril.