Look at what we have achieved with protest and what we can achieve again. All out for the NHS this Saturday
Donald Trump was due to visit the UK in February 2018, ostensibly for an opening ceremony for the new US embassy in London.
But then the US president cancelled a few weeks before his trip, because, he says, the old embassy building in Grosvenor Square was sold for “peanuts” and moved to an “off location”.
What a transparent set of lies. The truth is that he was afraid mass protests would make his visit to the UK a PR disaster. It is enough to remember tens of thousands shutting down London when George W. Bush came to town.
Now, imagine what the prospect of that nightmare scenario was doing to nerves in Number 10. Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit the newly elected US president in January 2017, when she invited Trump on a return trip to Britain.
She will still be worried, though. If her closest ally cannot come and visit, she is in real trouble. Even the prospect of people power sets the Tories running scared. Their years of austerity, and in particular the crisis in the NHS, have made people’s lives a misery.
We saw a glimpse of what can happen when that misery turns to anger in the days after the fire that ripped through Grenfell Tower. There were spontaneous, heated mass protests. People knew that the fire and the deaths were preventable, and that mood is a portent of what could yet come.
And we should keep in mind all real change comes through mass action. How did workers first gain the right to vote? Through mass demonstrations and riots by the Chartists. How did women get the vote? It was the struggles and protests of the suffragettes and suffragists that did it. The fact is that protest works.
The American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s ended racial segregation and discrimination laws in the United States. The gigantic demonstrations of the 2000s led by the Stop the War Coalition form the backdrop to the mood that brought Jeremy Corbyn to Labour leadership.
Popular protest brings people together and shows us our collective strength. Protest shows us that we can rise like lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number. We can shake our chains to earth like dew. We are the many - they are few.
This is the spirit that will save the NHS and bring the Tories down. See you on the streets on 3rd February.
More articles from this author
- High stakes in UCU strike: another 14 days of action announced
- The crisis of the UK intensifies after Glasgow IndyRef2 march
- No war with Iran: Glasgow protests against Trump’s belligerence
- Beyond the Labour leadership election: let's not wait until 2024 for change
- Scotland will be a key battleground in Tory Britain
- Who needs enemies, with friends like Jon Ashworth?
- The impact of the manifesto: canvassing for Labour in Glasgow North