Chris Baugh, Lancashire Socialist Party
On a welcome day of sunshine, hundreds of trade unionists, including sacked P&O workers, NHS campaigners, and disability and anti-‘fracking’ activists, assembled in Blackpool on Saturday 19 March.
With a samba band, and our trade union and climate banners prominent, we marched from opposite Blackpool Tower to the Winter Gardens where the Tory Party was holding its spring conference.
This was a chance to protest against the Tories’ ruthless squeeze on living standards, and their attempt to make workers pay the cost of the Covid pandemic and the capitalist economic crisis.
The ‘cost of living crisis’ demo had originally been called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) as a ‘national demo’, but was then cancelled, without good reason, at the last minute.
But the need to protest against the Tories was as strong as ever. The Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Trades Council (BFWTUC), alongside Lancashire trades councils, Unite branches in the region, NHS protesters – who also provided an ad-van which was driven round the town calling for opposition to the Health Care Bill – and climate activists involved in the successful anti-fracking protests in the area, all came together and decided the protest should go ahead.
The TUC, under pressure, has now called a new demo on 18 June.
At the Blackpool demo, Darren Proctor from the RMT spoke powerfully on behalf of a contingent of sacked P&O workers; Darren received rapturous applause for his call for workers’ solidarity. The rally held outside the Tory conference was chaired by Lynn Goodwin, BFWTUC President, with speakers including the trades council secretary Ken Cridland and others from the various campaigns represented.