So today I have just returned from London and Lambeth where the NSSN, the national shop steward’s network made up of socialists and trade unionists.
Today the 5th of March a whole load of anti cuts protesters from various different unions, anti cuts campaigns and organisations came together to march on the labour party local council conference meeting at transport house the old TUC building ironically.
As you may or may not know I’m registered blind and my first big demo was a real experience so I thought I’d do a write up of my experiences from a blind activists perspective and how I saw the day.
So Myself and other comrades from Stevenage arrived just after 11 am at Lambeth north tube station and assembled together not far from the Imperial War museum as we set about signing the petition that was to be handed to Labour Party delegates attending the conference I believe everyone who attended signed the petition to urge labour councillors to vote against the cuts.
As we were waiting for clearance to start our march from the police we had the pleasure to listen to several excellent speakers before we took off.
Many good speakers, some with real stories and tails of struggles over the years. We heard from Martin Powell Davies of the NUT who is very active in his area of Lambeth not far from where this march was taking place. He reminded us of some great battles the left had won back in the 1920's in Poplar and in the 1980's with inspirational moves by militant lead Liverpool and Lambeth councils who were both labour at that time. Martin reminded us of the bravery of those councillors standing up to the Tories back then when it was the iron lady we were up against in Maggie Thatcher.
Today it is the condem government made up of the Tories and the liberal democrats who are enjoying taking on the working class it would seem with George Osborne and David Cameron making the ordinary working people of this country including the old, young, disabled, women, men, unemployed and many other areas of society to pay for the mess the bankers in this country caused.
Other speakers of note were Linda Taaf of the Socialist party who I had never heard speak before and thought she came across very well
Linda really got the crowd going several times and received big applause when she raised the statement that the Tories are coming for us, our jobs, our pensions, our benefits, our working conditions and then the phrase that will stick with me from the day was that what they don’t realise is that we are coming for them.
This line was repeated several times later in the rally and was an excellent point to make.
A special mention must go to full time socialist party employee and now NSSN organiser Rob Williams who I always enjoy listening to him and his views really deserves a lot of thanks and praise for help to organise today and keep everyone’s spirits high whilst on the march.
We had other speakers from the likes of RMT who are one of the more left wing unions going and have a strong record of ballot action when job losses are on the cards or working conditions are under threat. Some great points made here with a lot of emphasis on the big demo on the 26th of March we must all now look to build towards.
As for the march we got the go ahead to march at a little after 12 and we took off with a excellent set of drums leading the way who as I understand have been hired in also for the march 26th TUC demo in London with 3 times as many drummers, that should sound excellent I think.
The noise they gave off and the whistles and continuous chanting from up and down the strong march of what I’d estimate to be about 4 or 5 hundred maybe.
I'm a big football fan so love a good sing song and chant so some of the chants today lead by Rob Williams doing a top job on the megaphone really got the crowd going. Chants of no it’s no butt’s, don’t pass on Tory cuts and when they say cutback we say fight back really sent shivers down your spine to know that real working class ordinary people are finally finding their voice to these vicious cuts package.
I was guided along the whole route from a good friend who has his own work related troubles where he is set to be made redundant from Glaxo Smith Klein in Ware in Hertfordshire due to his so called "union activity" as they put it.
Every person on the march today had a reason to be there and to be fighting back against this horrible right wing government
But of course the real reason for us marching on the Labour local councillors conference was handing in a petition urging them to vote against the cuts and to not do the Tories dirty work for them
The march route took us up out of Lambeth up towards Southwark where the meeting was taking place at Transport house an old TUC building I do believe.
When we reached our destination we paused for breath as it was quite a long route I thought and I felt tired after I got home for sure.
We congregated in a small square just near where this labour conference of councillors was taking place where we heard more excellent speeches from Dave Nellist a socialist party councillor in his home town of Coventry. Dave who I follow on twitter @davenellist I’d been looking forward to hear speak for a long time really raised the assembled crowd’s spirits once again after a good march and put the blame for the financial crisis firmly in the hands of the greedy rich capitalist bankers who have drained this country bare. Dave also made a excellent point that forget any trade union strikes over the last few years the bankers have been on strike for a good while now refusing to lend money and spend and help the country out of this mess that they caused. I felt this was very relevant as there is money about and the bankers are sloshing around huge profits and bonus's to each other but we as ordinary working class people are seeing none of it. Only cuts to our public services to pay off the bankers mess.
Dave Nellist also highlighted some of the excellent work Uk Uncut have been carrying out over recent months in highlighting tax avoidance and evasion from big big corporations and banks. Dave said that Barclays bank and HSBC who are two of the worlds biggest banks who reported huge profits in the last year returning almost to pre banking crisis figures avoid paying tax like the plague they will employ hundreds of tax experts to find loop holes and financial experts to work out where they can get away with paying little or no tax to the British treasury. This is frankly disgusting in my opinion and is an absolute insult to the rest of us hard working citizens.
We heard further speeches from Rob Williams again giving us news that in Cardiff today 2000 people had marched on the Tories and liberal democrat spring conferences in the city to highlight how wrong these cuts are and how they should think again.
This was met by big applause too as Rob began to highlight major struggles happening around the world today from Egypt to Libya and even in the belly of the capitalist world America where trades unionists in the state of Wisconsin where they are putting up a excellent fight back against anti trade union laws their US government is trying to enforce. We will not be silenced came the crowd.
There was a call from one of the speakers to request a trades union worker involved in the protests and strikes in Wisconsin to be there on the March 26th demo in London and to speak to the crowd. This was a popular move and I do hope this can happen.
We were also pleased to have as a speaker a representative from the Right to Work campaign organised by the Socialist workers Party* SWP* who were given a platform to speak despite a lot of their members resigning from the National shops stewards network a few weeks back when the motion was passed to form a anti cuts organisation within the network. But I and many others were glad to see them back on board and having their views heard. They got a good reception and made some excellent points.
The right to work representative also gave us a run down of big protests his campaign are holding in the next few weeks including a big one against cuts to the NHS and the attacks on the excellent work our doctors and nurse's do in this country. That protest will be big I may see if I can go to that possibly.
He also flagged up a big protest in Trafalgar square on the day of the budget to remind George Osborne of his wrong doings and all the people his cuts are hurting. Hopefully this will attract a fair few too.
We also had a speaker from the socialist parties very own campaign- Youth Fight for Jobs. The speaker who is party of the youth and student movement raised some excellent points that the youth today do not know what the future holds for them. Highlighting again the importance of the student movement and the big 50 thousand plus demo's towards the end of 2010 in London as a result of the trebling of tuition fees.
In October of this year several Youth Fight for Jobs activists will be reanacting the famous Jarrow march from Jaro to London many years ago where 200 unemployed youth marched on London in protest to lack of job opportunities and poor working conditions.
The rally was ended with Linda Taaf and Rob Williams handing over the petition that we all signed at the start to urge labour councillors across the country that they do have a choice whether to stand with us and join the resistance to the coalition government or join with the government in voting for cuts.
As there is a choice and I and many others will be hoping that although many of the cuts have been shamefully voted through by many labour councillors across the nation the battle now begins to prevent them from implementing the cuts. That means we must fight for every library closure, every swimming pool closure, every youth connexions scheme, every job and everything that is being cut in the name of cutbacks.
The labour delegate did come out to greet the crowd to a few heckles I must say but I’m not sure what they can expect as currently many if not all Labour run councils are doing the Tories dirty work for them and voting through the cuts. But the delegate took the petition and snuck away quietly back to his members.
All in all a very good day and very enjoyable for me on a personal level. My first real big demo really touched my political senses and enlightened me to the fact there are many people out there, a growing number that share the same views and anger at this government and what it is doing and want to fight back.
It’s now all on to march 26th in London now. See you all there I do hope.