Last Saturday, activists from across the country descended on the streets of London to protest against the crimes of this callous Tory government. To channel the anger in society, the left leaders must offer a bold socialist programme.
On Saturday 26 June, Socialist Appeal supporters mobilised for the People’s Assembly national demonstration in London, joining a chorus of activists calling for an end to austerity, and to this criminal Tory government.
The demo was attended by a range of campaigning groups and unions, with many travelling from across the country to support a long list of demands, including: nationalisation of key industries; de-marketisation of education; tackling the climate crisis; better health and social care; an end to fire and rehire; and an end to the scandalous Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill.
The variety of groups in attendance highlighted the clear links between the struggles currently taking place, with many of the activists correctly placing the blame not just on the Tories, but on capitalism itself.
As one demonstrator we spoke to stated: “Capitalism is responsible for the climate crisis. If we are to solve the issues facing our environment, we need to end capitalism.”
After assembling in blocs outside of the BBC headquarters, the march set off toward Parliament Square. Slogans from comrades in the Socialist Appeal bloc directly linked the demands of the day to the need to kick out the Tories, overthrow capitalism, and build a fighting, socialist labour movement.
At the end of the march, one Labour Party member attending the demo remarked that the Socialist Appeal bloc was “one of the most energetic of the day”.
At Parliament Square, leading figures from across the labour movement took to the stage, including Jeremy Corbyn, Zarah Sultana MP, and Howard Beckett, the Unite assistant general secretary.
Speeches included attacks on the inept Tory government and capitalism’s systemic racism, as well as calls for socialist policies.
Shout, Shout, Get The Tories Out!
— Unite London & Eastern (@UniteLondonEast) June 26, 2021
Zarah Sultana singled out Matt Hancock as responsible for the deaths of countless working class people. Corbyn, meanwhile, rallied the crowd with a reminder that the movement must not only protect past reform, but also fight to carry society forward.
Howard Beckett made reference to the many who have died as a result of the racist and corrupt police force, as well as urging trade unionists to unite behind a single left candidate in the upcoming Unite general secretary election.
Strategy and perspective
Despite the undeniably rousing words, however, few of the speakers gave clear answers as to how we can fight for these demands.
Some made suggestions such as reinstating Corbyn, and voting for Steve Turner in the Unite elections. But there was little in the way of strategy beyond this.
This may also account for the relatively reduced participation at this protest. Far fewer attended Saturday’s demo than those organised by the People’s Assembly in the past, with many workers and youth already seeing the limits of further marches in the absence of a wider perspective.
At the same time, the accumulating anger and radicalisation in society is palpable and visible – as seen by the huge numbers of people demonstrating in the name of Palestinian solidarity and the Black Lives Matter movement.
To re-engage these layers, and the mass of workers and youth, a bold socialist platform is needed – one that links all these struggles to the goal of bringing down this rotten Tory government and ending capitalism.
This, in turn, requires fighting leadership at the head of the labour movement.
With the recent victory in Unison, where the left has won a significant majority on the union’s NEC, we are on the way towards this goal.
The next step is to carry through this transformation across the trade unions and the Labour Party, removing the right wing leadership that stands in the way of fighting the Tories – starting with Keir Starmer.
To do this, we must build the forces of Marxism, in Britain and internationally. We call on you to join us in this task.