By way of contributing a little something to the public record, I’ve published an edited version of a video I made with the help of fellow students in 1984, while I was in the final year of a film production course at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design (BPCAD – now the Arts University Bournemouth). At the time most students were entitled to grants to support their education, and when the government suddenly announced a cut in this financial support, the National Union of Students set about galvanising students into a radical response. If I recall correctly, one day in early November I got into college at my usual time, heard there was going to be a meeting to discuss what ‘action’ to take, decided that this was a story worth following, got permission from the tutors to take out cameras, lighting etc, and started recording what followed.
It turned out to be an interesting ride. During the following weeks there were a lot of meetings, a march on Bournemouth town centre, a 30,000 strong rally at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London followed by a flaming torch-lit march on parliament and Downing Street by irate, chanting students. The press reported that “180 students were arrested after part of central London had been brought to a halt during the evening rush hour. Three bridges, Westminster, Waterloo and Lambeth, were closed to traffic” (The Guardian, 29 November 1984).
The upshot was that, amazingly, we (the students) won. To quote The Guardian again: ” What Sir Keith, with rare brilliance has managed to do is to construct a broad coalition of profound hostility” (28 November 1984). Under pressure from Tory backbenchers, the government backed down. A parliamentary briefing paper published in 1997 also puts it very well: “Th[e] announcement gave rise to a storm of protest, focussed mainly on the imposition of tuition fees, which mobilised students, parents and backbenchers. On 5 December 1984 Sir Keith Joseph responded by announcing that the proposed contribution to tuition fees would be withdrawn”.
You may notice that this video isn’t particularly high quality. This is because it was shot on Umatic video tape and 16mm film, with sync and non-sync sound, and originally edited on a Panasonic Umatic tape editing system. It was then copied onto VHS tape and from there onto DVD, and finally edited and encoded using Lightworks software. So, there’s been some image degredation over time.
The video features:
Paul Needham, President of National Union of Students at BPCAD
Cathy Wilson, Parliamentary Candidate for the Labour Party, Isle of Wight
Vicky Phillips, President (Welfare), National Union of Students
An unidentified representative from the National Union of Mineworkers
An unidentified union leader (possibly David Lea, Assistant General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress)
Rodney Bickerstaffe, General Secretary of the National Union of Public Employees
Editor’s assistant: Richard McLaughlin
VTR Operators: Ian Campbell and Sue Kennett
Sound Assistants: Ian Salvage and Liam Lyons
Camera Assistants: Cameron Whittle, Paul Metherall and Keith Mack
Lighting: Suri Krishnamma and Ian Kelso
Sound: Ian Campbell and Ian Salvage
Camera Operators: Ian Kelso, Robert Williams, Andrew Hewstone and John Bennett
Director and Editor: Tim O’Riordan
I’ve made an attempt to contact those who appear in the video, but as I’ve lost touch with pretty much everyone who took part, it has proven impossible to find out if anyone has any issues with sharing this. So, if anyone in the video is concerned about what they see here, please let me know.