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1/4 million in Saturday’s rally against austerity: 1 million next time!

18396446204_967159a9b8_qGovernments don’t listen to Parliament so long as they have a majority, but they do listen to social movements amassing their forces against them. Saturday’s rally against austerity assembling 250,000 activists is a very good start, and it needs to be followed through with ever bigger demos over the next few months. You can always tell when the Establishment is worried: at first they ignore it (only the Times reported the rally, not the other right-wing papers), then they report it but only if scuffles or violence takes place (there wasn’t any), and then if the pressure continues and grows bigger still, government takes notice and behind the scenes begins to backtrack.

There are very good reasons why the government can, and should be, forced into retreat. This prolonged austerity is brutally unjust, punishing the victims of the financial crash whilst letting the perpetrators off with impunity. It isn’t even working: the deficit is still £92bn and hardly reducing at all, whilst growth – the real way to pay off a deficit – is being squashed, the latest quarterly growth figure having plummeted to just 0.3%. And Cameron/Osborne have no mandate for austerity anyway. It wasn’t mentioned in the Tory manifesto, and they even doggedly refused to make clear where the next £12bn of welfare cuts which had been announced would come from. Moreover the Tories got less than 37% of the electorate to support them, and they were only backed by less than a quarter of those who voted – the lowest share of the vote in their history.

Moreover the Tories are far from invulnerable. They only have a majority of 12, and the formation of a hard-right faction in the Tory parliamentary party risks exposing very deep divisions and conceivably even triggering a split as in 1846. The economy is in much deeper trouble than Osborne lets on or the Labour party highlights. The Tories are still seen and resented as the defenders of a discredited elite, and top pay excesses have reached such heights that grotesque inequality could still spark the explosion waiting to happen. And Cameron’s plans to make most strikes illegal as well as ramping up strike-ballot thresholds should ensure that the whole weight of the trade union movement is thrown in to support not only industrial action, but demonstrations and local fightbacks across the country.

Image credit: photo of Anti-austerity demonstration London june 2015 by Francis McKee


  1. swatantra says:

    I’ve been on demos in my time, but this so soon after a GE where the People chose ‘austerity’ over ‘gradualism’, seemed to be a bit pointless. I doubt if it will influence the Govt’s thinking.
    The Left lost the argument’ it was not

    1. swatantra says:

      … not accepted by the majority. So I’ve got a feeling that the Left are going to have to rethink their position on the way the economy is going and getting those finances under control. Yes we can still fight for a fairer system, where every citizens pays their fair share of tax, on full employment, and ensuring the vulnerable are not forgotten.

  2. john problem says:

    The march didn’t get much coverage in our ‘free’ media – presumably because nothing got broken and there was no chance for shock/horror reporting. What we really need is a strong opposition.
    The problem is one of appearance – in all those telly and media shots. Without some kind of charisma (and it shouldn’t be difficult to out-face Smoothie Chops Dave) the disaffected, disinterested public will give no credence. Policies come after the photo shoot. Machiavelli knew that, so did Frontinus and so did Clinton and Obama. Labour needs to get the right face first, sort out the policy wars next, agree on a determined front full of sneers and guffaws at the Tories, and sting like a bee.
    Up until now, too much floating like a butterfly. God knows the country needs an effective opposition – more than ever. (God is an Englishman, we are told, but is he an anti-inequality supporter? ) And there is the key – anti-inequality. Fight the 1%!!
    Hammer the tax havens, the tax dodgers, the stinking rich, the immoral banks, the lounging Tories, the City!! Make it strong please….. Otherwise, it will be the descent into the abyss…..

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Good post and one which pretty clearly demonstrates not just why Labor lost the election; one that they generally believed was all but in the bag, (but even so Ed was still generous and realistic enough to consider the possibility that Labor might have to enter into some kind of working partnership with another party if they didn’t quite get the overall majority he was expecting.)

      The principle reason why the demonstration didn’t get reported by the media was it’s sheer tedious irrelevance, so OK a few middle class lefties mostly employed in the public services or teaching etc, (all the usual suspects,) with too much time on their hands and generally speaking not even the brains of your proverbial butterfly between them marched against austerity, (what does that even mean?)

      But then our trendy middle class left do so love their rallies and all and any other empty moral gesture bereft of substance and the illusory feeling of potency and participation that goes with doing nothing whatsoever of any consequence, (but very loudly,) that go with them and the sense of being somehow special, just because they were there.

      “The British middle classes will protest against absolutely anything as long as it isn’t going to cost them any money,” Roy Hattersley.

      The real problems are ones of substance and credibility, not of appearance, but the fact that you believe otherwise, all evidence to the contrary in a succinct and useful insight into the same out of touch and sterile psychology that lost them the election.

      That and the kind of patronizing arrogance that describes the rest of us as; ” the disaffected, disinterested public,” when if you actually met any normal people you’d know that nothing could be further from the truth.

      1. Sue says:

        would just like to say that I dont appreciate your sweeping generalisations re who attends marches! Certainly none of my friends who went are any where near middle class! However judging by the facebook posts I’ve seen Id say there was a very representative cross section of society there. So even more scary for the govt really!

        1. Matty says:

          Well said Sue but JP only gets his info from the internet. He lives in the USA.

          1. Sue says:

            thanks Matty. I did think his comments were a bit out of touch to say the least lol!

        2. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

          I would just like to say that; speaking as someone who attended marches and went through 2 different episodes of serious rioting and civil disorder where we live, which is not in the US, I think you lot just need to grow up.

          And be quick about.

  3. David Ellis says:

    There will have to come a point when the masses are no longer satisfied with anti-austerity and marching but will require from the left and the trades unions some programmatic meat on the class struggle bones.

  4. Sue says:

    People here seem to miss one important effect of demonstrations ——– they inspire the people who attend. Those people are reinvigorated to go back to their work places etc and fight harder. This isnt about the Labour party. It’s about people. Yes the media ignore demonstrations. Thatcher said “deny them the oxygen of publicity” —— and that works to an extent. However there is now a building hatred and discontent re this govt. No one ever knows what spark will set things off but to be honest I do think we are near it. It is also true that although the Tory friendly press do not report on these demonstrations the Torys are actually very interested in them and worried by them! One interesting difference during this demo was the police presence?! Very low key and non confrontational compared to “normal”. I take that to mean that this govt were and are actually very afraid that the tinder is now so dry that any little spark caused by the police could cause a raging fire.

    1. Sue says:

      building the movement for proportional representation would be a start? But also continuing to argue the case re anti austerity which is now starting to make headway as more people are sucked down into fear and debt ——— not to mention worse prospects for their kids.

    2. Rod says:

      Well said, Sue.

      In a number of ways I think demonstrations are more important than voting – there are at least a larger range of anti-Tory options available. And I don’t mean this in the party-political sense but in the way that the people who attend articulate their opposition to the Establishment ethos.

      If anyone doubts the importance of demonstrations they’d do well to read Ian Sinclair’s book: The March that Shook Blair.

      I’ve been politically active (TGWU/Labour Party/Unite) since the 1970s but attending the anti-Iraq War demo was the most important political experience of my life.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        “Attending the anti-Iraq War demo was the most important political experience of my life.”

        Yes and that worked well didn’t it?


  5. Patrick says:

    Dont forget the Millions who could not be there, those looking after old family members , the ill , the poor, etc etc every one who marched new others on facebook etc those doing work without proper pay and no future, we have been conned again by the ruling classes and the media.

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