Laurie Taylor column

November 17, 2000

"The Treasury is concentrating its extra money on noisy, organised groups with the power to swing large swaths of votes... in these circumstances, higher education unions and pressure groups are right to... up the ante now."
Editorial, THES , November 10.

Very Confidential
From the ad hoc action group.

We enclose an update on the week of direct action that will form part of the national campaign to capture public attention and sympathy for the cause of higher education.

1. Westminster Green Bonfire
Plans are now well in hand for a grand bonfire of research assessment exercise forms on Westminster Green. However, our original intention to burn the entire set of forms from one university has now been modified because of advice that the resultant bonfire would have been somewhat higher than Big Ben.

2. Seizing the Means of Communication
In order to ensure that our message receives the widest possible media coverage during the week of action, a small commando group of dons will occupy the main television suite at the Open University and broadcast a continuous back-to-back selection of Joan Baez songs.

3. Expert Boycott
All academics will refuse requests to act as media experts during the period of direct action. The subsequent disappearance of such programmes as Start the Week and Newsnight from the airwaves will be another powerful way of demonstrating the essential role played by academics in national life.

4. Academic Convoy
The centrepiece of our week of action will remain the slow convoy of dons from Aberdeen to Trafalgar Square. Dons who intend to participate are asked to check the enclosed map to ensure that their institution joins the march at the appropriate point. In order to ensure maximum disruption of traffic, dons are asked to walk at degree-day processional pace and wear billowing academic dress.

5. Chanting
In view of the apathetic public response to earlier higher education rallying cries such as "Rectify the Anomaly Now", it has been decided that this year's chant will carry a more substantive message.

The agreed words are as follows: "Two-four-six-eight. Rise and build the workers' state."

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