Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/641/10372
Thousands tell Tories: 'No cuts'
AS THE first Conservative Party delegates arrived for their 2010 conference at the ICC in Birmingham - a city whose Con-Dem council has threatened 26,000 employees with the sack unless they accept new contracts with reduced terms - thousands of trade unionists and political activists were gathering less than a mile away.
Despite the heavy and almost non-stop rain, it was an impressive show of opposition to the Con-Dem policy of destroying the public sector. Several thousand demonstrators took their banners, placards and voices along a tortuous route to the ICC and beyond.
The weather and the police tactics of attrition - slowing down and breaking up the march, forcing it through narrow passages - meant that most didn't get as far as the rally in a flooded car park off Broad Street. This was a shame, because speakers including Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist and PCS civil servants union leader Mark Serwotka were speaking about how to develop the anti-cuts campaign.
Dave Nellist put the case for socialism. He also called on Labour councils to refuse to implement the cuts. However, he argued that - where Labour councils wield the axe we need a political alternative to the big three parties. He said: "We need independent trade union, socialist and community-based candidates standing on an anti-cuts platform. It's been done in a limited way before. We need to repeat that with hundreds of candidates next May."
Socialist Party members worked hard to distribute a leaflet arguing how, when the shouting was over, the organised work to oppose the cuts in workplaces and communities needed to begin - a message that struck a chord with the trade unionists. Whatever the drawbacks of Right to Work as a focus for an effective anti-cuts campaign, this demonstration proved that the will and the numbers for such a campaign are not lacking.
In The Socialist 6 October 2010:
Defend Child Benefits
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Health and Safety
Europe: fighting the cuts
International socialist analysis
Socialist Party review