Billy Bragg joins Glasgow student occupation after gig

Billy Bragg with some students Billy Bragg had been performing at the Arches in Glasgow before he went to meet the students

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Singer and activist Billy Bragg joined a student occupation at Glasgow University in protest over plans to cut or merge courses.

Mr Bragg headed to The Hetherington Research Club after a performance at The Arches in Glasgow on Friday.

He said on his website he took the students some beer and they chatted and debated until after midnight.

The university is currently seeking ways to address a funding deficit of £20m over the next three years.

Critics have accused management of trying to reshape the institution into a smaller money-making enterprise at the expense of academic quality.

The university has said it needed to respond to "unprecedented financial pressures".

Mr Bragg told the BBC Scotland news website that the students at Glasgow University were not just campaigning about cuts but also about the "programme of trying to introduce the free market into education to the detriment of people who want to study humanities".

"By making higher education only about things like business, we're stifling those creative urges that have saved the economy in the past," he said.

He told the students that he had been doing this type of resistance in the 1980's.

Start Quote

It reminded me of the great radical tradition in Glasgow. It plugged into the old Red Clydeside days”

End Quote Billy Bragg

He said this generation, by standing up for what matters, was showing the potential that people like him had waited a long time for.

Red Clydeside

One of the student occupiers said about 80 or 90 people had been at the club during Mr Bragg's visit.

He said the singer turned up at about 2230 GMT and chatted for almost two hours to the students.

"He sang a song, chatted about his perspective and where he was coming from," he said.

"It was mostly a friendly chat, but he wasn't given an easy time of it - he had to give a robust analysis of his political stance."

Mr Bragg who revised the words of the British version of The Internationale, an "anthem" of socialism, said he often stood up and sang the song at similar events.

"Usually people just listen to it, but last night when I stood on a table to sing it all these people sang along. They actually knew all the words," he said.

"That was a new experience for me, so something's changed.

"It reminded me of the great radical tradition in Glasgow. It plugged into the old Red Clydeside days. It gave me such a buzz."

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