Socialist Worker

Fill London's streets in protest on 1 May

Issue No. 1797

A CARNIVAL of resistance to privatisation and war is set to take place on Wednesday of next week. That is the 1 May march through the streets of central London. The campaign to 'Make May Day our day' has been taken up by thousands of trade unionists, anti-capitalists and anti-war campaigners.

Trade unionists and young people have been mobilising for the march. Tim Sneller is a member of the Unison union in Southend. His branch is sending a coach to the demo. He said, 'From our pay claim to the war drive on Iraq, people feel lots of things are really one and the same issue. It's clear Blair's priorities are not our priorities.'

More and more coaches are being booked from cities across Britain to travel to London on May Day. Darren Hill is a member of Globalise Resistance at Leeds University. Even before term started Darren had booked a coach to bring students to join the march. He told Socialist Worker that Globalise Resistance has built up a wide network of activists in the city:

'We want to say no to privatisation and no to war. We want to engage people with anti-capitalist ideas. We have to say that something is wrong with the system. Students need to be reminded that they will be workers one day-it is in their interests to have unions. May Day is workers' day. So we want to demonstrate not as individuals, but linking students up with workers'.

That spirit was echoed by Gazelle Majidi, a student at London's Guildhall University. She was part of last Saturday's protest outside the Israeli embassy in London. She told Socialist Worker that she is hoping to get a big contingent of students from her university on the May Day march:

'The threat of war and what is happening to the Palestinians are the main issues. I went to a meeting in Tower Hamlets about Palestine. We are launching a petition to get the council to twin with the Palestinian town of Jenin. We are trying to do this because it would mean we could get funds and supplies through to the people there. At the moment even the Red Cross can't get supplies in. The petition is also against war in the Middle East. We will be taking it on the May Day demonstration, and I think we will get lots of support.'

Every new issue that blows up creates another reason to demonstrate on 1 May. In France May Day will be marked by mass demonstrations against Le Pen and his Nazi National Front.

Assad Rehman is chair of anti-racist group the Newham Monitoring Project and a national organiser for the Stop the War Coalition. He told Socialist Worker that it is more important than ever for people to march on May Day:

'May Day is traditionally the day workers stand up for their rights. This year we have to meet the challenges of globalisation and its military wing, of George Bush and Ariel Sharon. And now we have to rise to the challenge posed by Le Pen in France. The far right have been making gains across Europe and we have to mobilise against them. We have to build a united front of all the diverse social movements and march together on May Day. We have to make the links between privatisation, militarisation and fascism. We can bring people from all walks of life out on the streets to stand together against both the far right and the warmongers.'

Anti-capitalists march in the US

A 100,000-STRONG march filled the streets of the US city Washington DC last Saturday. It was another powerful display that the anti-capitalist movement is back and growing as strong as ever in the wake of the 11 September attacks in the US. The protests coincided with a heavily guarded meeting of the G7 nations and officials from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

'The march was planned to be against Bush's 'war on terrorism', but the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators marched in solidarity with the Palestinians,' Penny McCall Howard reported from the Washington march. 'It was the largest Palestinian solidarity demonstration in US history. Four different marches were organised and, in a fantastic display of unity, all four converged for a single massive rally in front of the US Capitol Hill building. The day was a breakthrough for the anti-capitalist movement in expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people, and in adopting a clear anti-imperialist position.'

Penny said the Herald Tribune described how 'protesters rallying against corporate wrongs and the global economy found themselves tweaking old Vietnam War era chants to the Palestinian cause, shouting, 'One, two, three, four-we don't want no Mid-East War!'

Some 50 buses came from New York, and 21 buses from Detroit. People also travelled from California, Utah, Wisconsin, Canada, and from all over the US.

Banners on the march read 'Drop debt, not bombs', 'No blank cheque for endless wars', and 'We are all Palestinian'. Penny said, 'Several organised anti-Zionist Jewish contingents, a strong African-American presence, many Latinos, and thousands of Arab and Muslim Americans marched together to end the occupation of Palestine and the 'war on terrorism'.'

On the same day 35,000 also rallied in San Francisco, and demonstrations were held in other cities.

Demonstrate Assemble 12 noon, Wednesday 1 May, Clerkenwell Green, London (Farringdon station/tube) March to Trafalgar Square

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Sat 27 Apr 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1797
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