Lucas: one week and I like her

Camden Green PartySO how will Caroline Lucas get on as the first Green MP? Her election was a tonic for her Camden colleagues (you can’t see her face in the pic to the left but that’s the top of her head just behind Maya De Souza, helping out on local elections in 2006), who lost two seats on the council and failed to make much impression in the parliamentary contests. When her victory in Brighton was announced in the early hours of May 7, the Greens swirled up together in an excited pride at the Camden counts. Local politicians from better represented parties looked across the Haverstock School canteen and gave a clap. Seemed rather patronising to me.

Will Lucas be swallowed up by the parliamentary machine, unable to make one vote and voice spread? Who knows? But her letter, signed with others, in The Guardian today made me think she’s not going to a bad job. It read:

We write to express our continued concern at the behaviour of Sussex University management towards students and staff on campus. Six students face a disciplinary hearing today (18 May) following an occupation of a campus building in protest against plans to make 112 staff redundant. Such protest actions have a long tradition at Sussex.

The current management’s response demonstrates an unprecedented degree of intolerance and narrow-mindedness with regard to legitimate forms of protest.
It is clear that these six students are being victimised in an attempt to intimidate other students away from activism against higher education cuts.
These six are being unfairly singled out for the actions of many.

We call on those judging the case to ensure that no student is unfairly punished for taking part in legitimate protest.
Like most north London graduates, I’m a Sussex graduate. In 1998 when I was enrolled there and stumbling through books about Salvador Allende with conclusions I can’t remember now, students with more gusto than me ‘occupied’ the finance office on the Falmer campus to protest over fees. I climbed inside one day and saw these heroic bath-dodgers had come up with an ingenious plan. As the authorities pulled them out of the front door, they simply ran around the block, squeezed back in through a back window and the jobsworths were back where they started. It went on for a week. Lucas is right: Sussex (and other universities) has a tradition for these kind of protests. The flicker of enthusiasm shouldn’t be crushed.

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