Socialist Worker

Demonstrations ruin Nick Clegg's weekend

Issue No. 2242

Marching in Manchester last Saturday	
 (Pic: Penny Krantz)

Marching in Manchester last Saturday (Pic: Penny Krantz)

Thousands of people have taken to the streets across Britain again in the last week to protest against government and council cuts.

The biggest demonstration took place in Cardiff on Saturday where up to 3,000 trade unionists, students, pensioners and others marched against the Tory and Liberal Democrat conferences taking place in the city.

Class anger ran throughout the march. Support for the revolutions in the Middle East was evident, with many Egyptian flags flying.

Protesters briefly blocked the road outside the Lib Dems conference, with students calling for Nick Clegg to go after lying over tuition fees.

Union leaders including Mark Serwotka of the PCS, Len McCluskey of Unite and Siân Wiblin of the Wales TUC addressed the rally at the end of the march.

All of them called for the biggest mobilisation possible for the TUC’s anti-cuts demonstration in London on 26 March. Serwotka got the best reception when he said, “Strike action is not only inevitable, it is necessary to show the strength of our side.”

Around 300 protesters helped ruin Clegg’s appearance at the Liberal Democrats Scottish conference in Perth on Saturday.

He had to use a backdoor at the city’s concert hall to enter the building and then spoke to a largely empty auditorium.

Protesters, including a number of disabled people, booed any delegates who appeared outside. They shouted “Barnsley” at them after the party’s humiliating result in the by-election there.

Up to 100 people protested at the Labour local government conference in central London on Saturday. The National Shop Stewards Network anti-cuts campaign called the demonstration.

Denied access

Protesters also continue to keep up the pressure on councils. Over 300 people lobbied the Liverpool council budget meeting on Wednesday of last week.

They were protesting over the £91 million cuts and 1,500 job losses proposed by the Labour-led council.

A trade union delegation was denied access to the public gallery. As demonstrators tried to enter the town hall security guards and police officers barricaded the doors.

As the meeting got under way the noisy protest moved to directly outside the room where the council was sitting. Despite this, the council passed the budget. But the fight will continue.

On the other side of the River Mersey, Sefton councillors passed £44 million of spending cuts amid heated scenes on Thursday of last week.

Measures included cutting school uniform grants for deprived children.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups voted this through to jeers from the public gallery. Labour councillors opposed the cuts.

Meanwhile in Southport hundreds of furious people gathered at a public meeting to show their opposition to plans to shut Crosby’s coastguard station.

Some 50 parents plus children lobbied Tory-run Westminster council in London on Wednesday of last week. They joined Unison members protesting at the closure of St James library.

Parents crammed into the public gallery to heckle the council leader’s speech.

Thanks to Ben Rutherford, Debs Gwynne, Mark Henzel and Chris Bambery

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