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Jarrow marchers march into history - and vow that the struggle goes on
Thousands of young people, trade unionists and other supporters joined the Jarrow marchers in London on the final leg of their long march from Jarrow.
In a display of determination, enthusiasm and solidarity, the Jarrow marchers led the way from the Embankment to Trafalgar Square, where a lively rally was held to mark the end of this 2011 march, a re-enactment of the original Jarrow to London march against unemployment 75 years ago.
Gloria Findlay holding photo of 1936 Jarrow marchers, Trafalgar Square, 5.11.11, photo Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
Waiting among others in Trafalgar Square for the march to arrive, was Gloria Findlay from Dorset, whose first husband, Pat Devine, marched 75 years ago.
On the march itself, celebrating its historic end, was Lizi Gray, the great-grand daughter of one of the original marchers.
Like the 1936 marchers, those who have marched today have again been driven to undertake this physically demanding action to draw attention to the terrible lack of jobs.
They are calling for a programme of job creation to end the misery of long term unemployment and all the deprivation, wasted talent and suffering that it brings.
For the rally in Trafalgar Square, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) provided a converted fire engine with a high platform from which the speakers addressed the crowd.
- Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) applauded the marchers and thanked them for helping to highlight the plight of the one million 17 to 24 year-olds who are on the dole. He called for a major show of strength by the trade union movement in the public sector strike on 30th November against cuts in pensions. The trade unions must reach out to the millions of unorganised workers and to the 3 million coming out on 30th November, and if the government doesn't listen to that mass show of strength then that strike action will only be the beginning of the fight, he warned.
- Marcher Lizi Gray gave thanks to the PCS and the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union) and other trade unions for their donations which the marchers "couldn't have done without" and also to all the supportive communities the marchers passed through that gave them accommodation and food.
- Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, praised the way that the Jarrow marchers have given up their time to call for a different future for young people. He said that working people have always had to win things through struggle. The bankers said they would shut down the cashpoint machines and so on, if they didn't get bailed out; we must now say too that we'll shut down the country if we have to, to stop us being made to pay the price of their crisis.
- Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, warned that some people will always say 'what's the point in marching and protesting'. But we can either roll over and take it, or we can fight back. The alternative to fighting back is absolute chaos, and services being cut to pieces - this is the prospect being offered to us, the austerity policies being implemented in Greece, north America and across the globe. We have to fight for our own alternative.
- Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party, also expressed admiration for the Jarrow marchers and said that they have shown that young people are prepared to fight for a better future. And they're not alone, as the St Paul's protesters with their banner "capitalism is crisis", and many others, have shown. Any system that can't offer every young person a home, a job - a future, doesn't deserve to exist. She called on people at the rally to join the Socialist Party in its fight for a socialist alternative.
A number of other inspiring speeches were made, including by a representative of Kurdish and Turkish organisation Day-Mer Youth, and by Emily McArthur from the Occupy Boston tent protesters in the US.
A rousing end to the rally was given by national organiser of Youth Fight for Jobs Paul Callanan, who spelt out firmly: "We won't be a lost generation, we'll fight for our futures".