Since the election, semi-spontaneous protests have erupted and large meetings have been organised in cities across the country, as ordinary people begin to fight back against this government of the rich, for the rich, by the rich. We publish here reports of such demonstrations and meetings from Socialist Appeal supporters in Bristol, Sheffield, Wales, and London.
Since the election, semi-spontaneous protests have erupted and large meetings have been organised in cities across the country, as ordinary people begin to fight back against this government of the rich, for the rich, by the rich. Further anti-austerity protests are planned in towns and cities across Britain for a day of action on 30th May, in the build up to the big national demonstration against austerity on 20th June in London.
Socialist Appeal supporters have been actively intervening in the demonstrations and meetings taking place so far, and will continue you to do so elsewhere, arguing the case for mass, militant action and bold revolutionary ideas to defeat the Tories and put an end to the crisis of capitalism.
Join supporters of Socialist Appeal and members of the Marxist Student Fedation on the Revolutionary Bloc @ the End Austerity Now demo on 20th June, and help us sell the paper to spread our ideas and build the revolutionary forces of Marxism.
The system is broken! Fight for revolution!
People have not been quiet in Bristol since the General Election. On the 13th of May, less than a week after the results were announced, around four thousand people turned out to protest against the new Tory government and their vicious cuts. Organised only a few days earlier by just seven female sixth-form students, it was a testament to how much anger and desire for change ordinary people are feeling.
Following on from this, over four hundred people met in Bristol on Monday evening for the public meeting “After the election: How do we stop the Tories in their tracks?”. The event had speakers from various organisations and backgrounds, from an anti-austerity economist and writer, to a Bristol tenant fighting against unfair eviction, along with a senior member of UNITE the Union and the People’s Assembly, as well as some of the college students responsible for the earlier protest.
There were plenty of passionate contributions from the floor, from people of all ages and walks of life. The meeting had a very focused and radical character, with more and more people stating the need for direct action, and many advocating civil disobedience.
Both the meeting and the protest contradict the narrative being peddled by some that anti-austerity sentiments will soon die down, and that people will meekly accept the yoke of the next five years. Clearly workers and youth will not sit idly by as the Tories cuts jobs and attack public services. Indeed, the greatest rounds of applause were for those calling not for reform, but for revolution – for those criticising the capitalist system itself.
One Socialist Appeal supporter made a passionate contribution, arguing the need for a mass movement with revolutionary organisation, a bold socialist programme and clear goals. This contribution was well received, with many approaching Socialist Appeal sellers after the meeting to discuss more.
It was a good opportunity for all to organise and strengthen their resolve; but the most important thing for everyone there going forward was to build an overwhelming movement at the national demonstration on the 20th of June in London, and to continue agitating and boldly raising what needs to be done: to kick out the Tories…and to kick out Capitalism!
Imogen and Harry – Bristol Marxists
On Saturday 16th May, supporters of Socialist Appeal and the Marxist Student Federation intervened at a demonstration and rally against austerity in Sheffield. The mood of the crowd was fantastic; everyone, especially the youngest present, were very angry and motivated against the government and the cuts, understandably.
There were roughly 1,000 people in attendance, including many other activists and members of the public, particularly young people and school students, who were interested in expressing their anger at the government and the devastating cuts that they are imposing as a result of the crisis of capitalism.
We talked to as many people as possible present in order to explain that these cuts are not ideological, or part of the Tory party being nasty, but were necessary cuts in the eyes of capitalists who are wedded to the idea that, in order to sustain the current system, cuts must be made to social spending including pensions, benefits, and education.
We were bold, asking people if they wanted a revolution to put an end to this situation and why they thought we were in this mess. We received an extremely positive response from many people who agreed that something needed to change and were open to the idea of revolution and socialism.
After a brief march, the demonstration ended in a rally. Speakers included Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, members of TUSC, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the trades council and one of our supporters. Our speaker made a link between cuts and the global crisis of capitalism all over the world, explaining that we needed to take ownership of the economy to provide a society that works for us and that is worth living in. This statement for the building of a socialist society was well enthusiastically received.
This demonstration is one of many organised around the UK, largely organised at short notice, showing the anger and resentment at the outcome of the election, which many people felt did not represent them or their views. With a lack of genuine political representation, people are seeking alternative ways to voice their frustration, and we will see more protests of this nature in the coming period, including the huge demonstration organised for the 20th June, which Sheffield comrades along with hundreds more from all over the country will be attending.
People are angry, in a process of radicalisation, and are looking for some way to meaningfully fight back against the oppression of capitalism. We will continue to make a presence at these demonstrations in order to explain that we cannot fix capitalism, but must fight to over turn it, putting forward a coherent socialist alternative: the idea that we must educate and organise ourselves to form a meaningful fightback, born out of an understanding that only socialism can put an end to the ills that capitalism inflicts.
Natasha Sorrell, Sheffield Marxists and UCU (personal capacity)
Saturday saw just over 1,000 people from around South Wales assemble in Cardiff for the second anti-austerity demo in as many weeks. Trade unionists, socialists, campaigners and local activists alike gathered beneath the shadow of the Aneurin Bevan statue, to organise and convene before taking their slogans of discontent along the streets of the Welsh capital.
The mood was one of utter contempt for the politics of austerity; one of fear for the immediate implications of a Conservative majority; but also one of optimism: the sheer number of people assembling for an event which had been organised within the previous five days was more than encouraging.
In a clear hunger for a photo opportunity, a self-styled revolutionary, red band tied around the arm of his olive green jacket, stood atop a Cardiff council bin, waving a six-foot red flag, sporadically shouting “class war” or “revolution” to the crowd below. Despite the cliché, almost forced soundbites, a revolutionary mood was certainly stirring – perhaps the clear skies and freakishly warm weather were an omen for what lies ahead.
After a slogan-filled march, the event truly came into itself at the assembly point for the rally at the end of the march. Several speakers talked about the dangers of the ideology of austerity, with some of those wielding the microphone talking about how communities would organise within themselves to resist the looming cuts.
However, there were a number of speakers who spoke more broadly about the link between the cuts we’re facing, and their inherent relationship with capitalism – unlike many other events of this type, socialism wasn’t spoken about in the abstract, and mention of the overthrow of capitalism was met with overwhelming support. Priests, charity representatives, workers, and youth all spoke of oppression being tied to capitalism, and the need to overcome it.
One organiser mentioned that the purpose of the event was to “give people optimism, and a sense of hope for the future” – however, it was more than that. In the midst of the bleakest outlook in decades, this sense of positivity wasn’t so conceptual. The revolutionary mood was latent, but is certainly gathering momentum. To paraphrase Marx himself, “a spectre is haunting Wales. The spectre of communism!”
Matt Rider, Swansea Marxists
Following on from the short-notice protest of thousands outside Downing Street on the weekend after the election, I attended a meeting described as a Radical Left General Assembly, hosted by Brick Lane Debates (BLD). The attendance was about around 1,000 people – an extremely impressive turnout given that the event had only been announced via Facebook about 48-hours earlier.
The meeting was called at very short notice and was built for exclusively using social media. It is a reflection of the mood in the wake of the election that such a large turnout was possible to a meeting that was explicitly anti-capitalist and called by a relatively unknown group. Rather than feeling downbeat and demoralised, workers and youth are getting active and organised, looking for a way out from this future of crisis and austerity.
The meeting itself, however, had some severe limitations. BLD describe themselves as a “group of unaligned activists” and it was very clear that they had little experience of how to utilise the numbers present or run a meeting of such a large size.
More importantly, the political content was lacking. Many contributions focused on the vicious ideology of the Tories and on what organisational structures are required to build a new mass movement. Several people pointed out, however, that we need to say not just we are against, but what we are in favour of; unfortunately no one offered such a suggestion as to what kind of society we would be in favour of, nor what “anti-capitalism” means in concrete terms.
Towards the end of the meeting people began heckling the organisers and many people left before the meeting had finished, frustrated with the lack of organisation and political direction. The waste of this militant mood at the present time is disappointing to say the least, with the organisers failing to harness the potentially revolutionary energy of such a large group of people. The danger is that such energy could dissipate and be lost, rather than be channelled into the building of a mass, militant movement with a bold, socialist alternative – which is ultimately what is needed to defeat the Tories and end austerity.
With further “Radical Left” assemblies being organised by BLD, and more protests planned in the run up the 20th June national demonstration, it is more vital than ever that socialist activists argue boldly for revolutionary ideas in these mass movements of workers and youth that are erupting in front of our eyes.
Ben Gliniecki, Marxist Student Federation