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Creating waves at Brighton

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Issue 1763

protest at labour party conference

Creating waves at Brighton

“PRIVATISATION is garbage.” That is the message that will be emblazoned on the side of refuse lorries in Brighton on 30 September.

The GMB union branch in Brighton is backing the demonstration outside the Labour Party conference.

The union wants its lorries to be at the front of the protest. This GMB branch led a successful occupation against private firm Sita which led to the company losing the refuse collection contract in Brighton.

The Brighton protests have been jointly called by anti-capitalist group Globalise Resistance, the Socialist Alliance and the Green Party.

They stirred up mainstream press coverage last week. “Anti-Capitalists Target Labour’s Conference,” was a headline in the Daily Mail. It reported, “Anti-capitalist protesters are planning to stage Genoa-style demonstrations on the streets of Brighton.”

London’s Evening Standard reported, “Thousands intend to bring the town’s seafront to a halt with an ‘extravaganza’ of street theatre and a march.”

And the Guardian reported that protesters “will seek a platform in the conference for ‘people who represent what is really going on in society’, including a worker from a hospital that is being privatised and an asylum seeker”.

Why we will be demonstrating

“I WENT to Genoa to protest against neo-liberal policies inflicted by the G8 countries and private firms.

Tony Blair claims capitalist globalisation benefits everyone. But it is only governments and their corporate cronies who get any benefits.

I came back from Genoa feeling totally empowered and determined to build protests locally.

We are fighting negative forces with positive, creative energy. We have to use this on 30 September to put on an imaginative display of unity.|

SUE FISHWICK, Manchester

“I AM angry because of privatisation in the postal industry, which will decimate jobs. Privatisation is already hitting support services.

We have organised a protest march in Milton Keynes against privatisation. We got together with people from the GMB and other unions to form the Milton Keynes Anti-Privatisation Lobby.

They are merging and closing schools here. So parents and governing bodies have got together to join us. Our message to New Labour is we don’t want global companies taking over our services.”

JOHN COLBERT, branch secretary CWU Eastern Region No 6 branch

“POLITICAL SYSTEMS are only as good as the capacity of their citizens to attack them.

Without constant trouble, all systems succumb to corruption, whatever their political colour.

Only when our representatives are forced constantly to account for their actions can we be sure that they are not selling out to vested interests. Protest is an essential part of the process of holding them to account.

Generally speaking, the more trouble we cause, the better it is for democracy.”

GEORGE MONBIOT, journalist and campaigner

“WE NEED a massive presence on 30 September to try and convince the Labour Party there is an alternative route.

Seattle, Gothenburg and Genoa have shown the pressure we can put on our elected officials.

I have no illusions that Blair and his right wing ideolgues will take account of us.

But it is important that people come together and show that the mass of people are against Blair’s ideology of privatisation, the free market and the destruction of the welfare state.

We want everyone there-aligned and non-aligned, Socialist Alliance and Greens, and also people still in the Labour Party who feel disgruntled.

Our protest in Brighton will show Blair and his minions, and those back benchers whose silence has been deafening, that neo-liberalism is not what people want.”

STEVE GODWARD, West Midlands Fire Brigades Union and Socialist Alliance candidate for Birmingham Erdington in last June’s general election

“PRIVATISATION in Britain is part of a greater scheme to sell off our world to a few greedy individuals.

Yes, it does sound like something out of a James Bond movie, but this is the ultimate aim of the New Labour government and other ruling parties across the world.

We as workers can put a stop to this madness. I am a member of the Black Country Socialist Alliance and was one of the Dudley strikers.

We did not stop the government in its pigheaded attitude, but we helped turn the tide and made people realise that you can make a difference if you join together and fight.”

WINIFRED WHITEHOUSE, shop steward, Dudley Group of Hospitals UNISON

“NEW LABOUR are content to hand over power to big business while workers’ rights, jobs and the environment are trashed.

Blair says that globalisation and privatisation are inevitable. But he has failed to grasp the consequences-a widening gap between rich and poor, worse safety and environmental standards and more power passing to unaccountable company bosses.

It’s time that Labour wake up and start debating the real issues.”

TIM TURNER, Green Party

Blair’s opposition

OVER 130 people met in London last Saturday to plan the build up to the demonstration.

They included trade unionists, Green Party members, Socialist Alliance supporters, members of Globalise Resistance, and many others. “We have a challenge to unite all kinds of ordinary people who are disengaged further and further from the political process,” said Keith Taylor, a Green Party councillor from Brighton.

John Mulrenan, a Socialist Alliance candidate in last June’s general election, spoke about how “there is a growing recognition that Blair’s privatisation means the lock, stock and barrel transfer of public services to the private sector.”

Other speakers reported how the National Union of Journalists and many local trade union branches have given their backing to the protest.

The London Regional Council of the MSF union, which has a majority of Labour Party members on it, voted unanimously to support the demonstration, and to organise and pay for coaches.

Anti-privatisation rallies or protests have been organised in London, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Manchester and elsewhere in the run-up to the Brighton demonstration.

On 30 September people plan to gather at 12 noon in Brighton for a festival about all the issues that people feel betrayed on. There will be “die-ins” against Son of Star Wars, anti-corporate street theatre and a free-speech tent. Then everyone will come together for a united demonstration to the Labour conference centre.

As Globalise Resistance activist Kate Blanchfield from Sheffield told Socialist Worker, “This government is alienating the citizens of this country further and further. On 30 September we have the chance to tell Blair and his cronies what we really think.”

  • Book transport to Brighton NOW. Produce and sell tickets for coaches and other transport.
  • Approach trade unions, community groups, environmental, anti-debt and other campaigns and organisations to get them to back and build for the demonstration.
  • Get together with groups in your area to organise an anti-privatisation rally in the run-up to 30 September.
  • Organise stalls, street theatre, leafleting and other events in town centres and FE colleges, at local festivals or community events.

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