Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1086/30763
Safe social-distancing car-cavalcade protests
Newham Lives Matter
Newham trade union council organised a car cavalcade through Newham, east London on 7 May to combine with the Thursday 8pm clap for key workers.
Newham has the highest death rate in England and Wales during the pandemic. This is no accident.
A borough ravaged by austerity and cuts, 43% of children in Newham grow up in poverty, 19% live in fuel poverty.
27% of homes do not reach the 'decent homes' standard, and Newham has the highest rate of overcrowding - 35%.
Many immigrants in the borough do not have access to public services, NHS or benefits. These shocking statistics explain why the death rate is so high.
Despite this, Newham Labour council voted through another pro-cuts, pro-austerity budget in February - another £45 million from local services.
Our borough can't take anymore. We will not stay silent while members of our community become seriously ill or lose their lives to coronavirus.
We took to our cars, and some were on their bikes, to thank key workers. But we went further. We demanded PPE for all who need it, and an end to poverty and cuts.
East London Socialist Party joined the demonstration demanding the £45 million planned cuts are scrapped. Instead, the council must use some of its £1 billion in reserves to invest in the borough - join with the community and trade unions to fight for more money for Newham to reverse the devastating impact of years of austerity.
The primary responsibility for the crisis in Newham is with the Westminster government, but it doesn't help when Newham council carry through cuts.
We didn't replace one pro-cuts council, led by Blairite Robin Wales, just for another lot to come in and carry on in the same way. On Thursday 14 May we will be out again with another safe social-distancing protest - join us by car or bike if you can.
Lois Austin, East London Socialist Party
Sheffield: Test, trace, PPE
With the city's roads and footpaths still relatively quiet, Sheffield Trade Union Council's (TUC) eight-car cavalcade certainly got noticed by those people that were out. Plastered with window posters, a megaphone shouting out and horns blaring, the TUC's CV19 Council of Action got its message out: "Testing, tracing, PPE; Keep workers virus free".
On 7 May, we drove slowly from the city centre through Burngreave, with a large black and Asian population, to Northern General Hospital. We stopped there for a half-hour socially distanced protest outside the main entrance - with placards and leaflets for staff and passers-by.
Had a "get to work", and a couple of "go home", but mostly thumbs up and cars and buses honking in support of 'no return to work until it's safe', and that safety should be decided by the trade unions and workforce. All of us thought it was well worthwhile, and we will be repeating every Thursday, especially after Johnson's car-crash statement.
Alistair Tice, Sheffield Socialist Party
Haringey: Families waved and workers clapped
A car cavalcade, organised by Haringey Coronavirus Action Network, got a great response Thursday 7 May in north London. Eight cars gathered in the unused car park at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre.
The police were quite suspicious, but having assured them that we would be social distancing - and campaigning for PPE on their behalf - we moved off at 7pm.
We wound our way slowly through the streets of Haringey, west to Turnpike Lane and then east to White Hart Lane, horns and megaphones blaring: "Test, test, test; PPE; keep key workers virus free."
Families waved to us from the road sides and homes. We finished at the North Middlesex University Hospital, just before 8pm.
We were met by NHS staff, applauding our arrival. We circuited the car park, eventually leaving our cars to join them from a safe distance.
David Kaplan, North London Socialist Party
In The Socialist 11 May 2020:
What we think
Spanish flu 1918
Lessons from history