More reasons to join the national End Austerity Now demonstration on June 20 by People's Assembly organising committee member John Rees
1It’s the first nationwide response to the election
There has already been an explosion of protest in response to the threat of an ever deepening austerity programme coming from the Tory government. In Newcastle, Cardiff, Sheffield, Peterborough and many other places there have been thousands taking to the streets already.
In Bristol seven young women, all A level students, called a protest on a weekday evening and 3,500 people turned up to march through the city centre. But this outpouring of anger needs a national focus. And it needs to be seen in the governments own back yard, in the City, where the banks caused the crisis, and outside parliament where the austerity programme is implemented.
This march will be the first chance we have to show that there is a real and determined national opposition to austerity.
2It’s the first mass response
This march will have every section of society affected by austerity on it. Practically every trade union is backing it, including the biggest unions in the country - Unite, the NUT, the PCS, the FBU and many more.
But that's just the start. Housing and disability campaigners will join NHS activists and students. Anti racist campaigners will join anti-war campaigners on the march. Artists and rail workers, canal users and child poverty activists, conservationists and comedians will all be there. It will be the people saying no to the profiteers.
3How big it is will shape all that comes after
Last year the People's Assembly demo was 50,000 strong. This demonstration is set to be much bigger with nearly 60,000 already saying they are coming on facebook. But how much bigger this protest is really matters.
A massive demo will immediately end the Tory story that they have mass support, it will inspire future protest and lift all those who feel depressed by the election result. Every extra person who marches is another living rebuttal of the Tory's right to rule.
4If its big there will be more local resistance
The more people who come on this march the more likely there is to be effective local resistance. Every mass national protest feeds local action, and vice versa. National protests inspire and connect activists.
They meet new people from their locality and other like minded campaigners. Local and national protests are sometimes counter posed. But this is never necessary. They can and do reinforce each other.
5It's a defence of democratic rights
The Tories are trying to act as if winning the approval of just 25 percent of the electorate and just 37 percent of those that voted is the same as being given dictatorial powers for 5 years.
But a government must win the consent of all those it governs, not just the minority that elected it. If it cannot do this, either for particular policies or in general, then it doesn’t have legitimacy.
The Tories are trying to claim that protest is illegitimate because they won an election in a broken electoral system. We have to show them that people power is greater and more democratic than their ‘minority rule’ government.
John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher), ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German) and The Leveller Revolution. He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.