Friday, 22 October 2010

My Take on Wednesdays Downing Street Demonstration

I'm rather late in writing this post about Wednesdays Downing Street demonstration, due to ongoing problems with my Broadband provider and British Telecom. Frustrating as it seemed, it nevertheless has given me time to walk over in examination, the significance of this event. The demonstrations called and organised, and let’s name these organisations, and very important that we do so too: Camden NUT, Camden Unison, Camden Trades Council and Holborn a St Pancras Constituency Labour Party. They must all be congratulated and thanked for having the bottle of real fortitude and determination to help draw that very fine line now in the sand. The march organised by a local network and not a national body is very telling of the sate of the Labour and Trade Union Movement. But beside that, the demonstration and build up to it, marks a mood change amongst some sections of our movement at rank and file level. Ordinary members of the trade’s council and other sponsors did for opposition what has been lacking for a very long time, they called on the movement to assemble the resistance; this was reinforced by calls from speakers to form a National Resistance of all groups and traditions. This call it must be noted, did not come from the official leadership of the TUC but rather from activists on the front line. It came from those of us who are under no illusory blight of withering and rotting acceptance that austerity is the only game in town.

There is no misunderstanding; world global capital is in meltdown, the seed of self destruction as only Marx could describe the ending of this rotting system is in a deep crisis globally, this is evident for everyone to see and taste its discernment very soon.

These are times, that in our wildest nightmare its complete horror must now awaken our class. Our movement in the much broader sense of general consciousness and awareness must stand-up and be counted; we can look and take inspiration from the sandy beaches of Dunkirk that my own late grandfather escaped from in 1940, just one of thousands of working class solders that went to defend the then King and country and the British capitalist way. Yes, this is a Dunkirk moment for the British working class and make no mistake about that. After years of un-provoked attacks first by Thatcher, then by New Labours unwillingness to repeal the legal shackles on workers organisation and defence, which have taken there toll, is not in doubt. But this is not the end story or can we ever allow it to be. When the going gets tough, the tough must get going, and that spirit of resistance bequeathed from our history must kick-in now, gentleness or sentimentality is not what I speck of, but barricade and defence of our very own or in a word our communities.

It was important that demonstration on Wednesday, and I was so pleased that so many attended and answered the call and made the event such a colourful, vociferation of protest, and I estimated that there was between four to 6,000 attendees, on a cold but luckily dry autumn evening in Westminster.

The protest lifted spirits and disbursed any apathy lurking; coming together in unity of purpose is the only way to build, galvanise and stimulate to action a roaring campaign.

The march assembled in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and set off to Downing Street, with local and London trade union banners held proudly. But what was really up-lifting for me in any case was the number of young people prepared and making their voices heard through the London Streets, there was a gravitating sense that we were firing the first shot in the defence of welfare, jobs and services. I met many long time friends and comrades of many years standing. It was like the family re-union coming back together for the first time in decades. And for someone who is a sceptic about marching around streets as part of this or that campaign and it has to be said: that on this day it had relevance, the combustion from well greased pistons, plunging and thrusting in motion. It was after all the very day that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government’s autumn spending review introduced the most savage package of public spending cuts ever seen in Britain. Half a million public-sector jobs will go, and another half million related in the private- sector as a result.  

Spending for welfare benefits will be slashed by a total of £18 billion between the cuts contained in the spending review and those already made in the emergency budget earlier this year. The poor, the old, the unemployed and our children will be punished for the greed of the Bankers, who almost brought about the collapse of their own rotting system.

There was something special I felt about this demonstration, you could see it in the faces of the demonstrators young and in old hands like me, it was so refreshing and up-beat that I wished it went a few more miles further. When we got into Whitehall the police had shut one half to traffic on the opposite side to Downing Street, but at the Cenotaph the barriers were broken and the police were taken by surprise as demonstrators took over that side of the road. The authorities had allowed a stage to be erected for speakers to address the demonstration, the only speech that I listened to was that of Matt Wrack the leader of our fire-fighters on strike this Saturday, Matt called on supporters to join local picket-lines, and I will be joining the Bow Fire Station picket

London buses or walking to the nearest tube station looked totally at a loss or apathetic to say the least, no cars were hooting horns; this says to me that the press have done a good job on the newspaper reading public.

Circumstances, events and public opinion may well change when the cuts start to bite, but we need to get out and educate the many in our communities of what these cuts will mean in reality, we have to hold meetings and generally be seen as we lift the profile of our campaign by telling people that the most savage of spending cuts since the 1930s, will wreck lives of millions by devastating jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services, it’s that simple!”

A follower on Twitter of The Socialist Way was a little disappointed that the demonstration did not descend into something more along the lines of say France or even Greece when workers were in confrontation with police and even the military. He tweeted the following: but consider how the French do things. Think about how violence is a hallmark of revolution, for good or ill.

Well what can I say in answer to this eager to bring about a swift end to all our entire problems comrade?

Well what I’ve thought about for over thirty years is the hallmark that is capitalism, its exploitation, its destruction and its many wars. I think of revolution as a solution, but that dose not mean violence, against who would the violence be directed, other workers perhaps, like the police in the first instance, the ruling class are clever in using one set of workers against another. The first port of call must be to win the arguments with and amongst our fellow workers, and we must win it with the majority. That is the only way forward, but that’s not to say that civil disobedience or direct action don’t have there place in our armoury!”                       

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