Thousands of protesters were out in Bristol today demanding an end to Tory austerity.
The “fund our city” anti-cuts demo was called by Labour mayor Marvin Rees and the People’s Assembly. It was the biggest demo in the city since 2011.
For many protesters the march was their first demonstration.
Software engineer Martha Rigby told Socialist Worker, “I’ve never been to anything like this before but I saw it on Facebook and I feel like I have to do something.
“The cuts are not aimed at the right people. They’re cutting what we need instead of taxing big corporations. We need money for people that are ill.”
There was a big official Labour Party presence on the demonstration, with banners from all four of Bristol’s constituency Labour Parties and local Momentum groups.
There was a housing bloc, an NHS bloc, a Green bloc and an education bloc on the march, as well as banners from major trade unions.
Some protesters hoped that similar demonstrations would happen around the country.
Lee Starr-Elliot is a Labour party member and equality and disability officer for his CWU union branch. He said, “Every other council should use Bristol as an inspiration and call a similar demo.”
He linked the cuts to privatisation.
“Royal Mail where I work was sold off by the Tories. Whatever happens to Royal Mail will happen to every other public sector job.”
Mayor Marvin Rees spoke of the Bristol’s inequality, calling it a “city shame.” And protesters were keen to say how far-reaching the effects of the cuts were.
Carmen Anderson spoke about how cuts have affected her children’s school.
“Teachers are leaving because of stress, parents are asked to donate money for basic resources,” she said. “I’m here today to get the Tories out—it’s what we need to get us out of this mess.”
People are pleased that Rees called the march against austerity. But there was also anger at Rees for leading a council that has passed cuts on.
If Rees refused to implement the cuts, it would help to build a crisis for Theresa May, and he would receive massive support.
As Rees himself said, “Austerity is a choice and it is costing lives”.