Socialist Worker

Put People First Coalition can reach out

Issue No. 2143

The Put People First demonstration on Saturday 28 March is being organised by a umbrella organisation of trade unions, campaigning organisations, charities and pressure groups.

In some ways this coalition is similar to the Make Poverty History campaign, which was organised in 2005 to protest at the G8 summit held that year in Gleneagles, Scotland.

That also brought NGOs and trade unions together with anti-capitalist activists.

Make Poverty History helped mobilise thousands of people for the marches and for an alternative summit in Gleneagles, reaching far beyond the ranks of the activist left.

But Make Poverty History had some problems.

The larger charities were politically close to Gordon Brown, who was then New Labour’s chancellor, and attempted to muffle the more radical voices in the campaign.

Eventually the coalition was disbanded from above, despite the wishes of many activists on the ground to keep on fighting against global poverty and inequality.

These tensions are likely to be sharper this time round. Since the economic crisis broke in earnest last year, we have seen a resurgence in anti-capitalist feeling.


The challenge for the left is to spread that spirit and feed it into networks mobilised through unions and NGOs.

Put People First can be useful in this, but it can also pull its punches.

The demonstration is not raising the issue of the war, for instance, despite the fact that the largest and most militant mobilisations seen in Britain recently have been against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

That is why it is also important to build for the Stop the War Coalition’s rally against the G20 summit on 1 April and march on the summit on 2 April.

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Tue 17 Mar 2009, 18:45 GMT
Issue No. 2143
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