As part of the campaign against the rise in tuition fees LUSU hosted a bonfire rally on Guy Fawkes Night, November 5.
Despite the rain, it appeared that the number of people that took part in the rally actually exceeded what had previously been expected with over a 1000 people coming over the course of the evening to share in the spirit of Guy Fawkes Night.
The bonfire was promptly lit at 7:30pm and it gradually burnt down in the hours that followed. The first few minutes created quite a spectacle as the faces of those that had betrayed university students were burned.
LUSU President Robbie Pickles said “Nick Clegg will betray this country by plummeting students into unrivalled levels of debt. We must send a message […] that we will not stand for a rise in tuition fees and that Nick Clegg […] will pay for betraying his country”.
Pickles said that the politicians whose faces burnt on the bonfire were “all responsible for putting up fees”. These included former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for initially introducing the idea to raise tuition fees. Both the bonfire and the stick that Pickles used to light the bonfire also featured both the current Prime Minister David Cameron and, more significantly, the Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat, Nick Clegg.
The event may have been a rally as part of the demonstrations against the proposed increase of tuition fees but it had more than just a political angle. As part of a general celebration of bonfire night, LUSU also played music throughout the duration of the event and additionally provided students with the opportunity to visit the Sugarhouse after the rally. LUSU offered those students that attended the event with up to 80 tickets that would grant them free entry into the student’s night club. The Pancake Man, who owns a food stall in the town centre, also attended the rally and served people throughout the course of the evening.
From 7pm onwards people began to arrive and numbers gradually increased as the evening progressed. Pickles added that “although the weather’s against us” he was still expecting a large turnout of between 300 and 400 people.
Even after the bonfire had burned down considerably and people were beginning to leave new crowds were still arriving. Fylde student, Helen Moore, said: “I’m going to my first bonfire since I moved […] 11 years ago”.
The general atmosphere, from both a political and an entertainment perspective was one that reflected the seasonal occasion. Cartmel student, Tara Coffin, said: “I’m absolutely covered in mud but it was worth it”.