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Doncaster People's Assembly takes to the streets for last year's national demonstration

Doncaster People's Assembly takes to the streets for last year's national demonstration. Photo: Mick Wattam

Activist Mick Wattam takes us through the ins and outs of making a mobilisation happen   

Osborne’s 2016 budget barely a month ago was a continuation and ramping up of the full-on attack the Tories are waging against the working class of this country, but it now appears to have been a pivotal moment in the lifetime of this government, when the tide well and truly turned against them.

The calls for Osborne’s resignation as he attempted to increase even more the burden of debt onto the poorest and weakest, at the same time as handing tax relief to the rich corporations grew loud enough to see the hated Ian Duncan Smith try and disassociate himself from the persistent attacks on the disabled and sick introduced over the course of Tory rule. Incredibly, all of this was supported and spearheaded by IDS, including the fresh attacks announced in the budget, which caused his resignation.

This falling out and split in the Tory leadership and their partial u-turn was their biggest blow up to that point, but the revelations about Cameron’s profiteering from offshore banking has really put them on the back foot and made their claims to be tackling the culprits who collectively evade paying billions in tax every year laughable. How can these freeloaders ever be trusted to bring in tax justice when they’re trying their damnedest to hide their own dodgy dealings from us?

It certainly seems like some of the bricks in the wall which the Tories and those they represent hide behind have been knocked down, and it also feels like if we push harder we could open up a huge gaping hole in their defences.

Contingent 

Personally I can’t wait for the People’s Assembly demo this Saturday, which looks like it is going to be huge. With Junior Doctors and Steel Workers leading, and a mass contingent of thousands of NUT members expected, it will be an electrifying rally against austerity and hopefully a springboard for the united strike action we need to not only save our Health, Homes, Jobs and Education, but to kick the Tories out.

Our new movement for change will be on the streets of London en masse this Saturday and we should be aware of its potential at a time when the Tories and ruling class are struggling to keep the real nature of their corrupt system under wraps.

It has been interesting to see the Doncaster coach to the demo fill up with people relatively new to demonstrating, and largely inspired into action by the election of Jeremy Corbyn. The whiff of the blood of the Tories has encouraged them to take this further step into street politics because the hope which Jeremy’s socialism offers seems suddenly closer and there to fight for. 

Massive 

This process must be happening in towns and cities all over the country, which means our movement is sinking its roots further into the working class.

As well as support from new Labour Party members, Doncaster People’s Assembly have been able to build relationships with trade unions locally, which has paid off with their support for our coach to the demo. 

In 2014 we called the first demonstration in support of the Care UK strikers in Doncaster when their contracts were torn up by their new employers after being handed over to the private sector by the previous far-right English Democrat mayor. Some of them will be on our coach as part of a Doncaster Unison Health delegation, after their recent participation in our successful NHS Question Time featuring them alongside Rory Hicks, a Junior Doctors' leader. 

Unite the Union are also supporting us through delegations from local branches. And most inspiringly we have had a massive donation of £450 from ASLEF, the train drivers union which ensured we were able to put on the coach in the first place. 

Participate 

Our social evenings have raised much needed funds so that we’ve been able to print leaflets advertising our meetings, coaches, and also informative flyers to hand out at our tax dodger expose actions. But they have also been a great way of raising the profile of our organisation, attracting people from across the local labour movement as we’ve put on great political acts such as Joe Solo and Ray Hearne, both well known socialist performers.

We believe we have laid the ground for more people to join the fight against austerity in Doncaster by creating a group which new people and those who have been around the movement for a long time can happily participate in. 

Whether the trade unions fight or not will ultimately decide whether the Tories can hang onto power and force through their cruel and divisive agenda of racism, austerity and war, but meanwhile we need to carry on increasing participation in the movement to ensure our alternative agenda of a fair and equal society is pushed forward. 

This Saturday we shall be making those demands with a whole load of new people, which will be galvanising to others and show that our side is growing in strength. Make sure you’re with us.

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