Monday, 25 May 2015

Demonstrate against austerity & in defence of unions this week

The General Election result demonstrated that the anti-austerity message failed to get through to the English electorate with the Green Party and TUSC getting nowhere near the kind of breakthrough achieved by the SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales.

There is some comfort in the Spanish election result with Podemos doing well and the win by Ada Colau in Barcelona who was a leading activist in the anti-eviction Platform for Mortgage Victims but the grim truth for us is that we face 5 years of pro-austerity Tory government with no sign of an anti-austerity leftist standing for leadership of the Labour Party.

Ada Colau celebrates in Barcelona

Podemos celebrates in Madrid
In this context, as in Greece and Spain, people are turning to the task of building an anti-austerity coalition and a strategy involving direct action, civil disobedience and new non-sectarian ways of organising that arise from local struggles.

The big People's Assembly Against Austerity demonstration in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens at the weekend (see below) which was supported by the Green Party demonstrated that there is an appetite in this country to build such a movement.

The Radical Assembly organised by Brick Lane Debates brought together more than 1,000 activists the previous week and it will important that they and the People's Assembly work together.

Here is the Brick Lane Debates statement and proposal for the General Assembly:
Why we have called this meeting:

The general election result has created a crisis. A hard-right austerity regime has taken power with the support of barely one in three voters and one in four of the adult population. The rich are celebrating: the stocks of banks, multinational companies and property developers are soaring. The rest of us will be made to pay.

The reaction has been massive. Thousands of people have joined angry anti-Tory protests, and thousands say they are coming to meetings to discuss what to do. A space has opened up for something that is truly democratic, bottom-up, radical, and based on mass action from below.

Our hope and aim is the creation of a new joined-up radical left movement or network. The movement will be shaped by all of us in the days ahead. But our initial proposals are:

• A movement made up of groups which keep their independence but come together to support each other’s campaigns and plan action.

• A movement rooted in real, localised campaigns and wider struggles, especially those in which the people themselves organise to fight back against injustice and oppression.

• A movement united on every issue – on unemployment and unaffordable rents, on fracking and climate change, on tuition fees and student debt, on the gentrification of our communities, on the privatisation of the NHS, on the violence and racism of the police, on the criminalisation of the homeless and the poor, and so many more.

• A movement controlled democratically, from below, with a loose federal structure which can accommodate an expanding number of independent radical groups and assemblies within it.

• A movement united around broad anti-capitalist aims, these to be formulated by the constituent groups, but agreed by general assemblies.

• A movement which aims to grow and unite people in active struggle against the system.
The People's Assembly is planning further action leading up to the big June 20th demonstration and beyond but it will be important that we are not limited to national demonstrations that like the Grand Old Duke of York lead us up to the top of the hill and down again with little to show for the effort. Action will need to be taken at local level.

Speak Out Against Austerity, Harelsden, Saturday
Progress and success will need to be measured in concrete gains: government measures thwarted, evictions prevented, developers forced to build truly affordable housing,  privatisation defeated, rather than just how many people take part in a march.

The People's Assembly is organising a protest on Wednesday May 27th 'Protest the Queen's Speech - End Austerity Now' assembly in Downing Street at 5.30pm.

The PAAA say:
The Queen's Speech May 27th will set out the the government's legislative plans for the parliamentary session ahead. What can we expect? Massive cuts to welfare, more attacks on immigrants, attempts to limit the right for unions to take strike action, more free schools and academies, abolishing the Human Rights Act and an extension of 'right to buy' ending social housing as we know it. Please do all you can to come down to this important protest.
Then on Saturday  May 30th the PCS union are holding a demonstration in Trafalgar Square, 'Hands Off Our Unions' at 1pm:
This government is attempting to extend the anti-union laws. They want to make it impossible for unions to take strike action. New proposals include imposing a ban on strike action unless at least 40% of union members vote in favour of strike action - hypocritical for a government who gained less than 25% of the populations vote.

This rally is also in support of PCS members in dispute at the National Gallery, striking over attempts to privatise sections of the service.
All this builds up to what is hoped to be a huge demonstation against austerity on June 20th LINK:


  1. On a practical level for people having to combat the existing 'welfare cuts' and further Tory threats/promises of £12bn cuts, there are:

    Well the Tories Won — Tips to Survive

    Boycott Workfare's Welfare Action Gathering - Saturday 30 May and

    Weekly meetings of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group on Thursdays, 3pm for 3:15pm to 5:30pm at Kingsgate Community Centre, 107 Kingsate Road, NW6 2JH.

    Emphasising the urgency of smashing profiteering, Boycott Workfare point out that Saturday 27 June is a National Day of Action Against B&M Bargains — the DWP's pet exploiter. (I differentiate between smashing profiteering and smashing the perpetrators of profiteering.)

    Meanwhile, there is still plenty to read and publicise on the Kilburn Unemployed blog that I administer even while I'll be taking a few weeks break from that as a consequence of shingles. LINK

    My being in the 'Support Group' of Employment & Support Allowance claimants does not protect me from shingles especially when Government policy and policy proposals threaten the prospect of cutting my income back to JSA levels in my 62nd year. Further, my so-called charitable 'housing association' has wanted to rehome me and my remaining neighbour for the past three years so that they can claim vacant possession of the property so as to capitalise on its 'prime location' in the property market. They want to 'rehome' us out of LB Camden into their 'core business' area of Islington/Hackney while I have lived in LB Camden for more than half my life. Of course, that is being backed up by Tory policy regarding how to fund housing development.

  2. Sadly when people are left in the dark and political strategist like Lyndon Crosby capitalize on issues such as the possibility of a Hang Parliament when Miliband refused to accept a possibile coalition with SNP you get the result people were not expecting.

    People can be fooled once or twice but next time ?