In my first year at university, I ran for the welfare officer position in the student union at Liverpool Uni. The Labour Club was heavily influenced by the Marxist policies of the Militant Tendency and so the programme I ran on included calls to nationalise the top 200 monopolies, a £90 minimum wage and a 35 hour week. I think the latter demand probably terrified some of the arts students!
Note the heavy fringe of the time. Think my hair would have been dyed jet black – think Phil Oakey of the Human League.
The poster was drawn with a felt-tip pen. Seems so weirdly amateur now but we had no digital magic back in those far off days.
Sussex University is compiling an online archive of news and ephemera from the 1980s called ‘Observing the 80s’ – a joint project between the Mass Observation Project, the British Library Oral History Collections and the University of Sussex Library. Click HERE for the related blog.
In the early 1980s, university students comprised a small percentage of the population compared to today – and most came from fairly middle class backgrounds. There was a strong anti-student feeling in many working class areas and this could lead to conflict.
I remember local people in Liverpool referring to the Uni as the “hotel on the hill” and there was a perception that we were the gilded youth. I’m not sure things were quite as golden as the locals thought but that said, our prospects were better than the average scouser aged eighteen in 1982.
Undergraduates were beaten up and attacked. One Liverpool University student who came a cropper allowed himself to be photographed by the student paper, Guild and City Gazette, sporting two black eyes and a busted nose above the headline:
This student had been set upon by ten youths aged between 18 and 21 in the Aigburth area of the city. As the paper discovered, this was by no means an isolated case. In the course of its investigations, a litany of robberies and attacks was uncovered.
A lecturer had been mugged outside the Roxby building with £20 stolen; a History undergraduate was knocked to the floor and £300 taken; a woman saw youths trying to steal her car and was knocked down and mugged; another lecturer had recently been beaten up in Abercromby Square in broad daylight and a ‘gang of 15 locals’ had turned up at the Brook House pub on Smithdown Road to beat up some students inside.
The University’s Security Superintendant warned that “the number of incidents of this nature is definitely on the increase”. A University spokesman agreed that there was a trend. “We are concerned that such attacks are becoming fashionable among teenagers in the area.”