Socialist Worker

Protest on 26 March: A day to change Britain

Thousands will descend on London next Saturday–be there!

Issue No. 2243

Mark Serwotka / Dot Gibson

Mark Serwotka / Dot Gibson

Saturday 26 March can be a day to change Britain. Hundreds of thousands of people will converge on London for a monster demonstration against the government.

The TUC’s march looks set to be the biggest protest in Britain since the huge demonstrations that swept the country against the war in Iraq.

From Penzance to Perth, trade unionists, anti-cuts activists, pensioners and students are filling up every available space on transport to London.

The TUC has given up trying to keep track of the numbers heading to the capital. Over 1,000 coaches and dozens of trains are booked—some with as many as 500 seats.

There is a week until the protest. Trade unionists, students, pensioners and every other activist must do everything they can to maximise the turnout.

A huge protest could give millions of people confidence to fight against every cut and for every job—and to bring down this rotten Tory government of the rich.

Demo is springboard for further action

“We want it to be big, colourful, noisy and impossible to ignore.

“It’s our chance to come together—old and young, working and unemployed, hardened campaigners and first-time marchers—and say ‘no’ to government cuts.

“It’ll be a success if we get a big turnout. It’ll be a success if it makes the government ­re‑think its cuts agenda. And it’ll be a success if we can recruit, organise and inspire people to stand up for what they believe in.

“We need to support the radical action of students which we’ve seen against tuition fee rises and the protest of groups like UK Uncut.

“We must use 26 March as a springboard for further coordinated campaigning and protest.”

Billy Hayes, general secretary of the CWU postal workers’ union

Now we need co‑ordinated action

“26 March must be the biggest and most active expression of anger at the government’s cuts.

“It should act as a catalyst for stepping up our action—more protests, co-ordinated industrial action and community campaigns”.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ journalists’ union

One of the largest protests in history

“PCS members are bringing their friends and family for what should be one of the largest ever demonstrations in Britain.

“It will be part of the movement to stop the government’s cuts programme. We need a barrage of local protests, occupations and coordinated industrial action to prevent the destruction of our public services and mass unemployment.”

Mark Serwotka, secretary of the PCS civil service union

Demand our right to bread and roses

“I will be marching to put a stop to the disgusting cuts the government wants to impose.

“It intends to dismantle a system that gives people access—not just to bread but roses too—no matter how much money they have.

“I want to protect the NHS, education and everything artistic that helps to make life beautiful.

“These things should be a birthright for everyone.”

Ellie Paskell, Actor

After demo: We need a general strike

“Union members are angry. But we can’t stop the government on our own or one group at a time. Our union AGM voted to call on the TUC to organise a one-day strike.

“26 March will be a big boost—but it has to be the start of coordinated industrial action.”

Wullie Boyle, Unite shop steward and maintenance officer, Glasgow

“The TUC protest on 26 March will mark the beginning of the end of the cuts facing us all.

“We have won free university education in Scotland. Now we have to stop the cuts that will follow.”

Carlo Morelli, president of Dundee University UCU branch

“I work as a welfare rights officer in one of the poorer areas in Glasgow. The benefit cuts will increase homelessness, debt and lower the standard of living for people already struggling to survive.

We all need to protest against this injustice.”

Stephen Neill, Unite union

Stop the cabinet of millionaires

“We’re being asked to take cuts by a cabinet of millionaires who are out of touch with ordinary people.

A large number of people have come up to me and asked when we’re going to have a general strike to beat the government.”

Steve Ryan, PCS rep, Wales

Banks got us here, they should pay

“There are now nine coaches from various unions leaving from Wolverhampton. That’s four more than we took down to the two million-strong anti-war demo in 2003.”

Nick Kelleher, secretary Wolverhampton, Bilston & District trades council

“I am marching to send a message to Birmingham city council and the government—these cuts will destroy lives.

“Thousands of Birmingham council workers face the sack. We are being treated like we don’t matter.

“It’s the banks who got us into this mess, they should be forced to pay. A mass march can show our size and build confidence in Birmingham to fight back.”

Lisa Priest, housing worker, Birmingham city council

Pensioners are not profitable

“Pensioners and young people have to stand together.

“Pensioners are not profitable, and we shouldn’t have to be. We pay all our lives towards our retirement and we need public services, and a living state pension, to survive.

“That’s why we are calling on all pensioners to join the protest.”

Dot Gibson, national secretary of the National Pensioners Convention

We have no choice but to protest

“There are around eight coaches coming from Cornwall. Our Penzance Parents’ Group is supporting a campaign to stop the council cutting Sure Start.”

Alana Bates, Penzance Parents’ Group

“This is the first time in years that people have organised on this scale. People are saying, ‘We have no choice, we have to go’.”

Keith Shilson, post worker in Penzance

It’s not only the public sector

“The government’s job losses are targeted at the public sector, but all of us will feel the impact of privatisation and cuts to our libraries, nurseries, hospitals and transport.

Celia Hutchison, Bectu union rep at BBC Manchester

“Refugees and asylum seekers will be hardest hit by the cuts. They tell us to integrate, but then cut English language provision. They tell us we will have fair representation, but cut legal aid.

“Rapar supports the demonstration and many people we support will be coming.”

Jethro Nyanjowa, chair of the refugee organisation Rapar in Manchester

Even more powerful than Millbank

“After Millbank the mood changed. And when we got back to Leeds, all the workers said they wished they were there.

“The 26th will be bigger and more powerful than Millbank because it’s students and workers together.

“It’s our chance to tell the government that we’re not going to take these cuts.”

Vicky Hartley, student at Leeds Metropolitan university

We need to stand up and be counted

“Union members are going to the march from our region by bus, coach and train.

“We all have to stand together to stop the systematic destruction of the welfare state by a government that doesn’t have a mandate.”

Alan Milne, regional officer, No 5 region, bakers’ BFAWU union

It’s getting bigger like a snowball

“King’s Lynn is not the most active place and I worried we’d send a half empty coach. But it’s already full!

“People who didn’t have a real understanding of what the public sector is are beginning to stop and talk to us. We need to involve them in the campaign .

“There is a change of attitude and it’s like a snowball getting bigger and bigger.”

JoAnne Rust, King’s Lynn and district trades council

What would Robert Tressell do?

“Hastings is facing the prospect of going back to the days when the writer Robert Tressell lampooned it as Mugsborough in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

“But we’re not mugs! We’ve come together and we’re busy filling our fifth coach.

“In the Deep South they have a saying: What Would Jesus Do? Ours is: What Would Tressell Do?—the answer is fight!”

Sam Buckley, PCS union

An Island of struggle

“We have filled four coaches so far.

“Lots of people are looking forward to going to London to express their dismay, disgust and displeasure at the Con Dems.”

Jackie Hawkins, Isle of Wight Stop the Cuts Alliance

Ellie Paskell / Billy Hayes

Ellie Paskell / Billy Hayes

Alana Bates / Keith Shilson

Alana Bates / Keith Shilson

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Article information

Tue 15 Mar 2011, 18:46 GMT
Issue No. 2243
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