More than 3,000 people gathered in Birmingham on Sunday 2 October to demonstrate against the Conservative Party, who are holding their annual conference in the city this week. It was an assembly of a diverse nature, both in age and ethnicity, and those who were comradely and friendly, happily gathered in the pleasant weather to listen to music, poetry, and speeches. Scores of trade union banners, along with those of campaign groups and political organisations, mixed with the signs and placards, many of them homemade, were held high by those attending who had come from all over the country. However, there was no evidence of any Labour MPs present, nor councillors from Labour’s ruling City Council offering any welcome or support.
The undercurrent of the emotions of fury, outrage, and indignation soon began to surface as speakers from Unite the Union, NEU, Black Lives Matter, Stand Up to Racism, Stop the War Coalition, and Peoples Assembly reminded everyone of the reality of living in today’s Britain under an administration intent on making their lives even more miserable and their rights ever more diminished.
An inspiring speech from the keynote speaker, Mick Lynch of the RMT, soon lifted the crowd. Talking about the ruling class, he said: “These people are corrupt — they are as bent as a nine-bob note,” and referring to Kwasi Kwarteng’s Growth Plan mini-Budget, he said that the Tories “are acting in the interest of their people.” Lynch said it was a simple equation in that there are those in society who create wealth and those who take it, “It’s a class struggle.” Time was of the essence, he stressed: “This time next year will be too late, because if they get away with their agenda, it will make it virtually impossible to have industrial action… or to gather like this.”
He emphasised that the struggle would have to be a joint effort of the working class, including trade unions, campaign groups as well as others, and in a message to political parties, he said it would have to be fought no matter what the colour of the political rosette.
“You must deliver for our people.”
“Campaign for a workers’ agenda.”
After the speeches, relief was felt by many seasoned campaigners that this year, in contrast to previous occasions, the protest was able to march to the conference venue instead of away from it. Many protesters stayed until the evening, expressing their anger at Tory Party attendees, many of whom seemed to take delight in arrogant gesticulating and taunting of the protesters, maybe indicating they had not matured from their previous membership of the Bullingdon club.
One protester claimed she was a “demonstration virgin”. This mature teacher was inspired to attend because of the harsh measures being carried out by the government. Agonising over the fate of many who will not be able to heat their homes or feed themselves, she wanted to know from the Conservatives, “Have they no compassion?” Harold Wilson’s time frame for politics has rapidly speeded up under the incompetence of Prime Minister Liz Truss, but the defining notion is that the current administration is on a mission of attack. Class consciousness will need to be a top priority in the coming months, and workers’ rights and pickets will need to be defended. Expect to see more novice demonstrators, as well as more experienced ones, take to the streets, especially for the People’s Assembly’s “Britain is Broken” national demonstration on 5 November in London.
Great photograph from here
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