Sunday, 21 October 2012
20th October how I saw it and where next
I like many other trade unionists made my way with other socialist party comrades yesterday to London we luckily don’t vie too far away. We took a different strategy this year instead of going on the march we stayed at Hyde Park all day and leafleted and held stalls as the march reached the end. Early estimates reckon the march was around 200,000 I’d say that would be about right it felt big still very big but the march did seem to thin out the nearer it got to 4 pm whereas last year there were still loads of marchers still making their way to Hyde park at a similar time. The atmosphere on the march was very Good lots of people hardened since last year and the betrayals of the right wing trade union leaders. There was a sense of we have been here before though and that may have played a part in the lower turnout perhaps. The NSSN and the socialist party’s calls for a 24 hour general strike were taken up very well by the workers on the demo lots of leaflets handed out many by me and lots of socialist papers sold too have no figures as yet but we made a terrific intervention I thought. Lots of positive comments coming our way when people came up to our stalls. I wasn’t sure how the demo would go before hand but was pleased with our efforts in the end. Clearly our calls for a 24 hour general strike caught an echo as several trade union speakers like Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka and Len Mcklusky all endorsing the NSSN’s calls. It’s clear now the TUC has to act and if not the left lead unions need to take the lead for further co-ordinated action. Len McCluskey, general secretary of the union Unite, got the overwhelming endorsement of the crowd when he asked all those who supported the organising of a general strike to raise their hands. Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT and seconder of the motion to 'consider a general strike' that was passed at the recent TUC congress, got massive applause when he called for a 24-hour general strike. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, also called for coordination of strike action across the trade union movement. Huge support was received for the campaign by the Socialist Party and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) to demand that the TUC name a day for a 24-hour general strike and then launch a massive campaign to mobilise the working class behind this call. What I was glad bout was the fact that Ed Miliband was roundly booed for his speech which I was disgusted to hear he was even there in the first place. He said he and his labour government if elected had to make tough decisions and they won’t be popular, dam right Ed you won’t be. SO its clear that labour will not be on our side if elected as if we didn’t know that before but some clearly still need reminding. As a result of this our stall could not give away TUSC leaflets quickly enough there was a big thirst to find about a alternative and TUSC can be that alternative in the coming by elections and beyond. All together the 20th of October must be remembered for being used as a springboard to further action this autumn or as soon as possible. Trade unions need to link their common disputes pensions, pay, privatisation you name it could be one of many issues and name the day for action. This demonstration opened a new phase in the war against austerity, giving a glimpse of a more hardened and militant working class. There was a widespread interest in socialist ideas, with many applying to join the Socialist Party. It’s now time to take the ideas forward and win the arguments; no cuts are necessary and must be fought.