Ahead of the People's Assembly conference this Saturday, Sam Fairbairn looks at how we create a movement powerful enough turn the tide on austerity
Cameron declares Britain needs permanent austerity, regardless of the deficit. And Osborne says we should brace ourselves for the 'year of hard truths' in a speech announcing a further £25 billion in cuts.
But the so called 'economic recovery' couldn't make things clearer. It's getting better for those at the top, at the expense of us at the bottom. The recent report from the office for national statistics demonstrates this: 'we are now going through the longest consistent fall in real wages since records began'.
The need for mass resistance is more important, and possible, than ever.
The government is weak and increasingly lacks confidence in it's ability to win the austerity consensus it so badly needs.
The floods created a political crisis, exposing the governments inability to do anything effective while tied to the private sector.
Following huge public outrage and unrest, ATOS pulled out of the work capability assessments.
The recent London Underground strikes gained majority public support and put Boris and the Underground bosses in their place, at least for now anyway.
At the end of last year student protests sprung up across the country. These were met with increasing police brutality, attempts were made to ban protests on campuses, and students were suspended for taking part in demonstrations.
They know the only thing that can stop austerity in its tracks is if we unite together and organise together.
And that's where the People's Assembly comes in. It's is our best shot at creating the kind of movement the government is clearly so afraid of.
The People's Assembly is based on creating alliances with the broadest possible forces around a few simple but radical demands.
Sounds simple, but unity is something we all need to fight for.
It's easy to shout at the TUC for not calling enough action, instead we should work to deliver real and visible solidarity that builds confidence.
And while we need to expose the Labour Party leadership for its commitment to austerity, a mass movement won't exist without the membership and millions of people that vote Labour.
The real challenge for anyone serious about changing society is seeking to work with, and unite with, as many people as possible on what we can agree on. Then act together, and actually create the conditions that can lead to further action.
And that means uniting the Labour party members and voters, the Green party, the revolutionary left, the students, the pensioners, those in a union, those not in a union, any individual who wants to get involved. And all campaigns, ranging from those to save the NHS or against the bedroom tax to those campaigning on tax justice or climate change.
The People's Assembly has made this first step in countless areas across the country. Since the launch conference in June last year of over 4,000 people, thousands more have rammed into community centres, town halls and meeting rooms from Dundee to Dorset to form People's Assembly groups. They have initiated, supported and been involved in countless actions, strikes and protests across the UK.
Now we need to step up the campaign and create more action, and the next few months gives us a real chance to do this. Two national mobilisations are being planned; on the 21 June the People's Assembly is organising a national demonstration and free festival in Central London followed by the TUC march and rally under the banner of 'Britain needs a pay rise' on 18 October.
These events need to bring hundreds of thousands out on the streets and that means we need to start talking to our neighbours, colleagues, friends and family now.
The first step is getting together in one room to plan how we do it. That means the People's Assembly re-call conference on 15 March is crucial for anyone who's active or wants to get active in the movement. If we organise together we are ten times more effective, and we need to do this on a national level as well as in our communities.
At the conference, the National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower will be discussing how we make the teachers' strikes a success and how we bring that energy into the demonstration on 21 June.
Kirstine Carbutt, a leading Unison member in Doncaster who has just organised a seven day strike against Care UK, will be relaying her experiences on how to organise successful workplace action.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and the People's Charter will be proposing an alternative to austerity.
Steve Turner, Unite the Union Assistant General Secretary, will be chairing much of the day and will report from Unite's community membership strategy.
Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, will be addressing the conference about how we bring climate change into the anti-austerity movement.
Dr Jackie Davis will propose plans to campaign against the sell off of our NHS.
Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition will talk about why the anti-war campaigns need to remain high on the agenda.
And trade unionists, community activists, students and pensioners will be debating the next steps in the campaign against austerity.
Let's work hard to make these mobilisations massive and turn 2014 into the year that we give this weak government the knock-out blow it deserves.
People's Assembly National Conference 2014
15 March 2014, 10AM - 5PM
Emmanuel Centre, London SW1P 3DW
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- Big trouble for the Tories: 5 reasons to demonstrate on 16 April
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- National TUC anti-austerity demonstration | 18 October 2014
- The unions and the people v austerity
- The battle for London transport
- Coming together – People’s Assembly update
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