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Manchester Demo

The movement outside of Parliament is critical. This government can – and will – be defeated. But it will need all of us to work for it


Demonstrations in Manchester against the Tories’ conference come after an extraordinary year of protest and change.

Tens of thousands of protestors have descended on Manchester to show their opposition to the Tory conference.

The Conservatives may have been gifted an election win this year, thanks to Britain’s antiquated electoral system.

But just 24% of the total electorate voted for their hardline programme. Their Parliamentary majority is a wafer-thin 12 seats.

Meanwhile, with news of huge job losses at Redcar, and ominous rumblings from China and beyond, their debt-bubble recovery looks close to bursting.

This is a government on borrowed time – and they know it. That’s what drives them onwards.

They want to ram through an anti-trade union law that even one of their backbenchers has compared to Spanish fascist General Franco’s legislation. They want to tear up social security – forcing 3m of the poorest in Britain to lose an average of 1,000GBP a year.

And they are itching to throw British bombs into the inferno that is Syria.

Austerity plus war. This is their plan.

But reaction to the Tories victory was swift. Protests against austerity were held across the country. The People’s Assembly demonstration brought 250,000 to London.

Landslide

Perhaps most spectacularly of all, veteran leftwinger Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership contest by a landslide.

Jeremy is a longstanding supporter of the Stop the War Coalition and the People’s Assembly. His victory would be inconceivable without the huge prior mobilisations we have seen against war and austerity.

For the first time since the 1930s, Labour is led by a leader unambiguously from the left and of the movements.

An unexpected new front has been opened against the Tories. The struggle outside of Parliament is joined, in theory, by the struggle inside.

In theory. In practice, confronted by a bitterly hostile Parliamentary Labour Party and surrounded by a ferocious right-wing press, the pressure on Jeremy and his team will be huge. Already, major concessions have been made on core issues like the EU.

Hope for change

Jeremy’s victory is a victory for all of us. If he fails, it will damage the whole movement. But it is up to the movements to hold him, and the Labour Party, to the hope for change that his election represents.

A first test will be a potential vote on bombing Syria. A “free vote” for MPs has been offered to placate the Blairite ultras. That means the more pressure applied now to MPs, through lobbying and petitioning, the more MPs will vote against the insanity of airstrikes.

We have to keep up the momentum. This means continuing to fight against every cut, inside and out of Parliament. It means supporting those workers on strike against austerity measures or redundancies.

The movement outside of Parliament is critical. This government can – and will – be defeated. But it will need all of us to work for it.

This article originally appeared in October's free Counterfire paper. Contact us if you'd like copies to distribute.

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