Socialist Worker

Thousands join People's Assembly protest to say, get the Tories out

by Socialist Worker journalists
Issue No. 2561

Crowds of protesters gathered outside BBC Broadcasting House in central London

Crowds of protesters gathered outside BBC Broadcasting House in central London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Thousands of people from across Britain have descended on central London today, Saturday, to demand an end to the Tory government. There was a jubilant atmosphere as protesters gathered at BBC Broadcasting House in central London and sections of the crowd sang, "Oh, Jeremy Corbyn."

The protest, called by the People's Assembly and backed by a number of trade unions, is being held under the banner, "Not one more day - Tories out, no more austerity".

It comes just weeks after Theresa May led the Tories into a disastrous general election which resulted in a hung parliament - and gave a huge boost to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.

Saira - Jeremy Corbyn connects with ordinary people

Saira - Jeremy Corbyn connects with ordinary people (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Many of those on the protest travelled miles to join it. Jon Woods was on a packed coach from Portsmouth. He told Socialist Worker, "We could have filled this coach probably three times over. I had people contacting me at midnight to ask if there were any places left. There's not a single space left on the coach."

Jon said many people from the Isle of Wight were on the coach, along with trade unionists and Labour Party members from Portsmouth. He added that many others had organised carshares, or booked Megabus and train tickets to get to the demo.

Linda is one of several Unison union members on the coach. She told Socialist Worker, "Theresa May didn't have a mandate before the election - she certainly doesn't have one now. I'm really annoyed that she's manipulated the situation to stay in government."

Linda, who is also in the Labour Party, said she felt "angry but also empowered". "More people are moving to the left and towards Corbynism," she said. "I'm going to stand with lots of others from different backgrounds today to make a big noise.

Protester Jennifer wants justice for the Grenfell Tower fire survivors

Protester Jennifer wants justice for the Grenfell Tower fire survivors (Pic: Socialist Worker)


"It feels like things are changing - we need to grasp it while we can." 

Helen was on one of four Unison coaches coming to the demo from Wales. "There's a brilliant mood among people," she told Socialist Worker. "There's lots of chanting about getting the Tories out. People are excited about Jeremy Corbyn. And everybody's really happy about having the chance to make their voices heard."

The Unite union sent four coaches from Birmingham - Bridget was on one of them. "We've got 55 people on this coach - it's full," she told Socialist Worker. "We've got a good contingent of Egyptian activists, a nurse in the RCN group and some children. Everybody's very upbeat and looking forward to the demo."

The march included many people angry over the Grenfell Tower fire.

Kathryne, a Unite member, was on a coach from Durham. She told Socialist Worker, "It was great to see the coach full at 6.20am. It shows the strength of feeling among people who are bearing the brunt of austerity.

"My decision to come down was heavily influenced by the terrible tragedy of Grenfell. I want to show some solidarity with those who lost their lives and the survivors who are now fighting for justice."

Labour Party member David told Socialist Worker, "I've been involved in the Grenfell campaign - it makes me angry. I don't think the government should be in power."
 
NUT union member Damian - Ive seen the devastation of cuts in schools

NUT union member Damian - 'I've seen the devastation of cuts in schools' (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Jennifer, also a Labour Party member, added, "I think the government has completely let the Grenfell survivors down. Especially because they live in one of the richest councils in Britain.

"What must people abroad who are looking at this be thinking? They haven't been rehoused, some are on the streets. And they raised concerns lots of times - if they'd been listened to this wouldn't have happened."

Other protesters are angry at austerity and the Tories' cuts. Damian, a teacher and NUT union member from Hull, told Socialist Worker, "I see the devastation the cuts lead to in schools.

"Teachers are at the end of their tether. Kids are having their curriculum cut. There's less teaching assistants to help. And in general society is becoming a more grey and miserable place."

Yet Damian, like many, was also optimistic. "We saw a glimmer of hope with the election," he said. "Jeremy Corbyn did really well. We can change things."

Saira came from Huddersfield to support the campaign to defend the health service. She told Socialist Worker, "I just really hate the Tories. If they close our hospital my family and friends will be affected.

"They want to move it to Halifax, which is miles away. How many deaths will that cause?"

She added, "We've had enough - it's time for a change. Jeremy Corbyn connects with and represents ordinary people, and that's why we're supporting him."

Other protesters are furious at May's deal with the bigoted Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which they fear poses a threat to abortion and LGBT+ rights. Over 1,000 joined a protest last Saturday at Downing Street to protest against the deal.

The march assembled at BBC Broadcasting House for a march to parliament. Groups of workers assembled in blocs to march together, as did campaigns such as Stand Up To Racism.
 
Socialist Worker will post further reports from the protest throughout the day.

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