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Protesters assemble before the march | Photo: Chris Nineham

Protesters assemble before the march | Photo: Chris Nineham

Lindsey German reports on a large and militant protest outside the Tory Party conference in Birmingham

Delegates to this year’s Tory Party conference were not likely to have a great weekend. Just for good measure, however, the movement showed up to say hello.

Thousands of protesters converged on the Tory party conference in Birmingham as it opened on Sunday. The demonstration organised by the People’s Assembly was one of the most militant in Birmingham for some time. The mood was upbeat, but most definitely angry. When this demo was called, it was very much the issue of energy bills that was at the forefront of people’s minds. Who could have foreseen that a new Prime Minister’s “solution” to that crisis would have been to create an even bigger crisis?

The large number of trade unions, campaigns, organisations and individuals there spoke with one voice: they are sick of the Tory attacks on working-class people which have been accelerated by the Kwarteng budget that gives to the rich while ensuring the poor are much poorer. The weekend also saw the resumption of mass strike action by transport and communication workers and there were plenty of people who’d been picketing on Saturday now marching on the Sunday.

Victoria Square filled with people campaigning against war, for higher pay, against cuts and racism. RMT leader Mick Lynch brought roars of approval from the crowd when he made an impassioned speech imploring the marchers to see the movement as one of specifically working-class struggle and talked about working-class solidarity. Kevin Courtney of NEU spoke about his teacher members balloting for strike action. Birmingham activist Salma Yaqoob talked about the desperate poverty in Birmingham and the need to fight the Tories attacks on the health service and public sector. 

The crowd was very diverse with many black and Asian people there, young and old, some veterans of many protests and some on their first demo. The march went through the city centre and then doubled back to the conference centre where it went through the police wall to demonstrate to delegates the strength of feeling there. A wall of sound made it clear that the demo was in town. 

John Rees from the People's Assembly was very well received at the rally when he talked about unity of the different campaigns and the need to mobilise for the 5 November protest in London bringing all the different strands of the movement together. This and other protests at the weekend are a great start but we need to keep stepping up our action in every way we can. 

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Photo: Chris Nineham
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Photo: Chris Nineham

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