A national demonstration against austerity will be a new opportunity to mobilise from every sector of society, say activists at the CoR national steering committee meeting
A national demonstration against the cuts will be a huge opportunity for the anti-cuts movement to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people. It will provide a focus for all anti-cuts activity, it will be an opportunity to mobilise local anti-cuts groups and campaigns, and it can involve every section of society facing cuts to services and benefits.
It’s been more than a year since March 26 and much has happened in that time. We had solid strikes and demonstrations on June 30 and November 30, and further strike action is planned on May 10 over pensions. The government has never been particularly strong, but the class war budget, the revelations in the Murdoch trial, and now the news of a double-dip recession have brought the ConDems to a new low.
If the cabinet of millionaires don’t bring themselves down before the autumn, the TUC demonstration could help tear up their austerity plans and damage the ConDems beyond recovery. This would send a clear message to any future government that the public will not stand for cuts, even if they are implemented more slowly or less deeply. The demonstration will reflect the scale and depth of anti-austerity feeling and a growing anger against the excesses of the rich.
Representatives from UK Uncut, People’s Charter and Keep our NHS Public addressed the meeting, and over 40 activists and trade unionists discussed how to build for the demo. The meeting agreed to organise another tour around the country, and ensure that local groups continue campaigning beyond the demonstration. Strikes, direct actions and local campaigns will be central to both building the demonstration and keeping up the momentum afterwards.
The TUC will be the backbone of the demonstration but for it to make the biggest impact possible it will have reach out far beyond trade union ranks. A recent YouGov poll revealed that 1 in 3 people believe the cuts are unnecessary, while 2 out of 3 believe the cuts are unfair. If we are to mobilise that sentiment, give confidence to people to take action and rebuild the trade unions, then we will have to organise not just in the trade unions but in every town and city, and in every community and workplace across the country. It suddenly looks like it will be a very busy summer.
Feyzi Ismail teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is active in UCU
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