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  • Published in Opinion
womens protest

Women's protest against Trump in London. Photo: Flickr/Jim Aindow

We need to unite people from all walks of life in the battles of the coming weeks, writes Kevin Ovenden

There is a six week battle ahead to try to force the government to accept the amendments tabled by the Labour party guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals and ruling out of a bargain basement Britain. 

The first of those has majority support consistently in opinion polls in the country. Most people will probably agree with the second if it is put to them. 

But the Tories have up to now refused to accept those and other measures. Guaranteeing now the rights of EU nationals would be a big step in turning the public debate against the anti-immigration brigade and it would bring real reassurance to three million people in Britain who feel vulnerable. 

The media is, of course, not going to help us in turning mass opinion into irresistible pressure on Tory backbenchers, many of whom profess to be for the rights of EU nationals but have not voted that way in parliament. 

Nor will there be any help from the bulk of the media over other battles in the coming weeks. 

Most of them - whether Tory media or liberal media - are salivating at the prospect of Labour losing two by-elections three weeks today. Then they may think they can reheat the coup attempt of last year to topple Jeremy Corbyn. 

The media is forced to report the enormous opposition to Trump and Theresa May's invitation for him to come to Britain on a state visit. But they would rather dilute this into trivia and speculation about what might happen in five months time than stoke up the pressure now on May to stop her arrogance and craven backing for Trump, and to withdraw the invitation. 

There are other battles as well, of course. The NHS and the big protest next month - which is in effect about saving it. The rising alarm in schools over huge budget cuts. Many other things - and issues which will go on, as will the battles over Brexit, for many months - years. 

Isn't the most important thing to do to fight the battles that are ahead of us and not to follow the media line, aimed at undermining those battles, of speculating about what will happen if those battles go against us?

We have to unite everyone we can in active opposition of all kinds to Trump now. A victory over the visit will be a huge blow to May and a boost to everyone standing up to Trump in the US. 

It would also help Labour in the byelections, as would protests and action over the NHS. 

And it will help in winning support for the good amendments in parliament which are against xenophobia and a Trump-style corporate power grab.

That will all help unite the movement - and we can win. 

On both sides of the Atlantic people seem to be protesting not so much to show that they are opposed to something, but to stop it - to change things now. 

I think they are right about that. 

Today the most powerful man on the planet, Donald Trump, was due to speak at an iconic American factory, the Harley Davidson plant in Milwaukee. 

The White House cancelled the visit. The reason was that the management warned them there were going to be big protests. 

One of the celebrity fascist supporters of Trump was due to speak at one of America's major universities - Berkeley in California - last night. 

It was cancelled, because of protests. 

These are a start, and there is a long way to go. But we should let everyone know about these successes and aim to unite everybody, from all walks of life and all sorts of standpoints, together in the battles over the next six weeks. 

And we should aim to win.

Kevin Ovenden

Kevin Ovenden

Kevin Ovenden is a progressive journalist who has followed politics and social movements for 25 years. He is a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010. He is author of Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth.

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