The Birmingham demonstration was a very welcome boost to the resistance against the Tories.
Seven thousand on a protest is not remotely on the same scale as the mobilisations in France or Greece or Spain. But the march was a further signal that the fightback has begun.
If a protest initiated by the Right to Work (RTW) campaign can be that successful, then it should be a good signal for the protests later this month.
And it shows that the TUC demonstration in March can be massive.
The Birmingham demonstration also showed the importance of initiative. Had RTW not called this protest, there would have been no visible expression at the Conservative conference of the anger against the Tories. The vermin would have been able to pretend that nobody felt moved enough to protest against them
The protest was greatly improved by the backing of seven national unions and the students’ NUS. But the initial decision to build the protest came from RTW.
What should come next? The key question is resistance, both in the workplaces and in our communities.
We saw this week the power of tube workers to throw their bosses into chaos.
We will need a lot more of such resistance, and on a wider scale, to beat the Tories.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka was absolutely right to insist on Sunday that it’s crucial for everyone to get behind whoever is in the frontline of struggle and to prevent particular groups being isolated.
And that’s why we also need to push for a general strike as a focus for all the strands of resistance.
But there’s also the issue of making the anti-cuts networks as effective as possible. This is particularly pressing in the context of the avalanche of cuts that will come on 20 October, and the TUC congress’s recent call for coordinated industrial action.
There are now a number of groups claiming to be a national focus for fighting back.
An appeal from RTW distributed on last Sunday’s demonstration said, “There is a responsibility on all of us to work together to raise the level of resistance.
“Whatever our differences there is much we can agree on. And unity in action would make the movement as a whole much stronger.
“We should be using all our energies to fight the Tories, the Lib Dems and the bosses.
“We are now in a situation where in some towns and cities there are separate demonstrations and meetings against cuts within days of each other.
“Right to Work has held conferences of up to 900 people, initiated protests in 20 cities on budget day and, along with others, organised the demonstration outside the Tory party conference in Birmingham.
“But we know there are others who have significant support who are also seeking to coordinate networks of resistance—including numerous city, town and borough anti-cuts groups, trade councils, regional union groups, the National Shop Stewards Network, Coalition of Resistance, The People’s Charter, Public Services not Private Profit and others.
“We do not believe we are the sole focus for this process of working together, coordinating activity and perhaps moving towards unity.
“We appeal to all of those who are creating anti-cuts networks locally and nationally to come together to discuss how we can work together, pool our knowledge and develop coordination.
“Right to Work will facilitate this process by hosting a meeting on Sunday 5 December in London.
“We do not seek to dominate the agenda or define the speakers or prejudge the outcome. We would like those actively engaged in building the fightback to shape the meeting. We hope everyone will feel able to attend the meeting.”
That’s an important initiative. And the motion passed at the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) steering committee last Saturday saying, “we wish to collaborate with all local or national organisations” was also welcome.
Unfortunately the majority of the committee voted down a specific motion from Socialist Worker supporters to approach others to discuss coordination, learning from each other and the possibility of a joint planning meeting to discuss joint work.
Nobody pretends that unity is easy. But the threat from the Tories is so great that those facing the cuts will not forgive anyone who puts their organisation’s interests before those of the movement as a whole.
To read and support the appeal from Right to Work go to www.righttowork.org.uk