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From: The Socialist issue 641, 6 October 2010: Tories turn clock back

Search site for keywords: Tories - Cuts - Socialist - Labour - Dave Nellist - Conservative party

Thousands tell Tories: 'No cuts'

Lobby of Tory Party conference, photo I Dalton

Lobby of Tory Party conference, photo I Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

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.

Dave Griffiths

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.

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