Thousands of people were set to march against austerity in Bristol this Saturday. The city’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees called the march alongside the People’s Assembly.
The overwhelming majority of trade unions in the city back it, along with many community organisations and local campaigns.
Bristol Labour Party has been running stalls all over the city to build the demonstration. It aims to leaflet every primary school in the four days prior to the protest. Election Organisers say around 50,000 leaflets will have been given out by the day of the demo.
The Bristol Fair Funding for Schools group is also organising among parents. It hopes to bring those who demonstrated over school cuts before the election back onto the streets. Momentum has been building the march and the local Green Party will have a Green bloc on it.
This is a level of mobilisation from the Labour Party not seen in generations. It follows a huge increase in the Labour vote in Bristol at the last election.
There will be blocs for education, welfare not warfare, libraries and health. The Malcolm X Community Centre in St Pauls, alongside activists who have built solidarity with survivors of the Grenfell fire, plan to have a bloc.
Anger at cuts has led to big protests in Bristol, and put pressure on Rees to act. It is a significant step forward that he has called this demonstration. It’s timed just before he visits the government to try and discuss local authority funding for the city.
Rees is right to try to put pressure on the government with this mobilisation. It is a shame that many other Labour councils and mayors have not followed suit. There is, however, a real problem in the limited strategy of calling for more funding while implementing cuts that are devastating the city.
Social care and child protection are in severe crisis, while there are mass closures of libraries. If Rees refused to implement the cuts, it would help to build a crisis for Theresa May. And Rees would receive massive support.
If the Tories tried to remove Rees from office there would be outrage—and a very high possibility of resistance by large numbers of people.