There was anger on the streets of Eastleigh yesterday as a small, but very vocal group of students from Winchester University and Solent University Southampton marched on Chris Huhne’s office in an attempt to talk to him – part of a nationwide campaign of demonstrations by students against the coalition government’s intention to increase student tuition fees.
The students claim that by signing a pre-election pledge (see story here) to oppose fee increases, Liberal Democrat MPs like Mr Huhne had gained valuable votes from students and these MPs should be recalled if they reneged on their promise.
In what was Eastleigh’s first demonstration march in living memory, the students, escorted by police officers, made their way through the town centre handing out leaflets while singing and shouting ‘We want our vote back’ and ‘Shame on you Chris Huhne’.
It would have been a surgery day for Mr Huhne – who earlier had been due to address local business men at a swanky bash at the Rose Bowl – but when the protestors arrived they found a notice on the door saying the office was shut for the day, so they delivered a leaflet instead.
Protest leader, student Daniel Prendergast said:
“We have been emailing and writing to Chris Huhne but he has not replied so we have come down to his constituency office to try and talk him, unfortunately he is not here but we are going to continue to write and email and continue to call his office till we get a response, If we don’t get a response we will come back here again”
“Even though Chris Huhne is not here we’ve still had a chance to remind the voters of Eastleigh of the promise Mr Huhne made to students”
When asked if the students had a message for the MP Mr Prendergast replied;
“We are asking him to remember his pledge and the reasons why he was elected”
The students also collected signatures for a petition in support of their campaign.
One shopper, Sue Wilson who signed said:
“I feel it’s not just about this generation but the future generations. I am worried about the future for my grandchildren”
Eastleigh voter Rod Youngman who also signed, thought a failure by Mr Huhne to honour his pre election commitments could endanger his prospects of being re-elected:
“He should vote against the tuition fee rises but he is not brave enough. He has promised a lot but done nothing. I think his seat is in great danger, when the local elections come in May a lot of local Lib Dems will be in for a shock”.
Chris Huhne has a 3864 seat majority.
Photo: ©Stephen Slominski