Over 800 people joined an upbeat opening rally of the Marxism Festival in central London this evening, Thursday. The four-day political festival, hosted by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), brings together socialists from across the world.
At the rally speakers told of their anger at a system that continually fails ordinary people—and the need to fight for a better socialist world.
The rally kicked off by hearing about the inspiring struggles of migrant cleaners.
Willie Howard, a Unite union organiser, told people about the inspiring strike of outsourced hospital cleaners in east London. “In the struggle workers their own struggle and realising their own power,” he said.
“As of next week we will strike for seven days—we will not stop until our demands are recognised.”
Mildred, a London School of Economics (LSE) cleaner, told people of their successful fight.
"We thought we weren't going to win,” she said. “But we are so strong within ourselves, we then thought we can bring the managers down to their knees.”
Millions of people angry at austerity and racism have been inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s radical, socialist message.
Amal Bider, a Labour and anti-racist campaigner, said, “Racism is the media and the policing system, refugees are scapegoated as if they're benefit scroungers.
“I joined Labour because Jeremy Corbyn was talking about these issues and was unapologetic about it.”
Chants of “No justice, no peace” rang out as the audience heard from Grenfell Tower survivor Joe Delaney.
He described how ordinary people had organised to support survivors in the wake of the fire.
“We have to do these sorts of things for ourselves, no one else is going to do this for you,” he said.
“Make sure you all work together. The Tories and the right wing certainly do—it’s time the left did the same thing."
Moyra Samuels, a local resident, spoke about the demands people are formulating in the fight for justice.“We are sick and tired of the neoliberal agenda that says we face austerity while they promote profit,” she said.
“Enough is enough.”
Gerry Carroll, a socialist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said, “People are drawing the conclusion that the system can't deliver for them. It's our job as socialists to connect struggles up to the bigger picture, and convince people another world is possible.”
Yasmin, cousin of Edson Da Costa, described the campaign for justice over his death. Edson died after being stopped by police in Beckton, east London, last month. “Each and every day that goes by our emotions challenge us,” she said. “But we have decided to come together.
“We really want answers, the truth. He has gone now but we're here and all we can do is fight for justice.”
Alex Callinicos, editor of the International Socialism Journal and a leading member of the SWP, said, “What's made this rally exciting is that it's a sense of the tumult running through British society.
“What's happened in the past few weeks is a reversal of the conventional wisdom. The Tories are hanging onto office. And Corbyn presided over an election campaign that won Labour the biggest increase in the share of the vote it has since 1945.
“He did so because he defied the conventional wisdom.”
The festival continues over the weekend until Sunday evening. For a full timetable click here