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On the 5th November people got the chance to 'Pin the Blame on Cameron' at the Fenland Peoples Assembly’s Bonfire of Austerity

radicalism returns to the fensIn the past, the Fens have been an incredible hotbed of radical thinking, from the Fen tigers to Cromwell, to the Kett rebellion and even as the birthplace of agricultural trade unionism. Indeed, It has only been in more recent years that this radicalism has somewhat diminished … until now! Fen Folk joined the national bonfire of austerity movement on November 5th with traditional fenland radicalism and innovation.

radicalism in the fensA ‘two-faced coalition’ guy, donning the faces of Cameron and Clegg was driven to King’s Lynn and paraded through the centre of town, joined by eleven People's Assembly members.

People were then given the opportunity to 'pin the blame' on Cameron; writing notes explaining what they blame the government for and attaching them to the guy- a task that came remarkably easy to many! These notes remained on show for all to see, prior to being sent off to local Conservative MP Henry Bellingham to pass on to the Prime Minister.

The public greeted the event with enthusiasm and humour. Despite the awful weather, lots of people stopped to pin the blame on the government and there were many good discussions with members of the public. These responses highlighted the discontent people are feeling towards their government. One particularly striking comment came from one gentleman who said that he blamed Cameron and Clegg for: ‘making me homeless’.

bonfire of austerityAs people continued to approach the group, the personal effect of the cuts became increasingly visible. Another person wrote, ‘Come and live off of £72 a week when you are trying to get a job... Asking for riots!’ Welfare cuts were a running theme throughout, demonstrating how austerity measures are hurting some of our most vulnerable people. However, there was broader discontent, with people voicing concerns about privatisation, particularly in the NHS. Concerns for equality were also voiced, with Ellen Witley writing, ‘Where have equal rights gone? Women are still seen as lower than men in the work place.’ Moreover, Jack Bates was concerned that there was ‘a lack of real support for equal marriage’.  The broad response from the public perfectly demonstrates how out of touch the Condem government are in so many aspects of society.

Many of those who did not write a message to the government openly voiced their dissatisfaction and anger -the most popular response of the day being ‘there’s a lot I’d like to say to him... and he won’t like it!’ Even those who did not necessarily want to be involved with the action still felt disillusioned and embittered.

radicalism on the fensDespite the weather, the day was enjoyed by all, with a good mixture of veteran and new activists. Even the local Wimpey allowed the group to use their premises as a bit of an office, which proved a perfect refuge from the chilly November rain. But the sun eventually came out, and when approached by a striking worker from the probation service, the group took Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg down to the picket line, which was well received!

As a small splinter protest, posters were stuck up on various businesses, warning the public that their custom was going to a tax avoiding company. Many establishments didn’t notice the posters, however, the manager of a Boots store did not take kindly to the accusation, and took great pleasure standing guard in front of her shop for some time!

radicalism on the fensBy the end of this successful demonstration, Cameron had suffered serious water damage and Clegg was coming adrift from the coalition... not that people noticed! The two-faced guy was thrown into the boot of the car and driven to a bonfire party at a local pub in a nearby village. There, the group did what they promised the public they would – threw the guy onto a huge bonfire. Unsurprisingly, the guy burnt very well and it was goodbye to a new friend. But that wasn’t the end of the night – after a good day of activism, the group all settled to watch a fireworks display: mulled cider in one hand, and a toffee apple in the other, safe in the knowledge that radicalism had been brought back to the fens.

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