Chants of, “Tories out—Corbyn in” rang out in Manchester today, Sunday. Tens of thousands of protesters joined the People’s Assembly demonstration and festival outside the Tory party conference.
The demonstration brought together anger against all of the Tories’ attacks. Rachel, a school student, told Socialist Worker, “We’re fundamentally opposed to the Tory agenda.
“Our parents who read the Daily Mail say Jeremy Corbyn will make it like when they were growing up in the 1970s. But all I have known is what we’ve had since the Tories got in.
“We need an alternative and I think Jeremy Corbyn can be it.”
A delegation from the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign in west London was among the groups to join the demonstration.
Tasha from the campaign told Socialist Worker, “The Tory government and Kensington and Chelsea council burnt our friends and family to death in Grenfell Tower.
“We’re here to say, ‘Enough is enough’. That we’re not going to back down or let this go quiet.”
There was optimism among marchers that things can change. Sheffield Hallam university student Jack told Socialist Worker, “I’m here to make society better. We’re definitely going to get the Tories out!”
Retired supervisor Derek, told Socialist Worker, “Theresa May acts smug but she knows she really lost the election. I’ve joined Labour since Corbyn’s leadership.
“The press says it’s a personality cult, but it’s not – it’s what I’ve been waiting for. I liked it when John McDonnell said he would go after the tax cheats. We have paid tax all our lives and the rich should too.”
Retired teacher Denise added, “What you see now is zero hours, reduced pension and a housing shortage. We’re here to try and get a better life for our children and grandchildren.”
There was a large turnout from health workers in the Unison union, who are fighting the Tories’ 1 percent public sector pay cap. Jan, a Unison member and nurse from Sefton in Merseyside, told Socialist Worker, “I take home less in wages now than I did in 2015.
“In hospitals staff are demoralised, but they are also willing to fight.”
Alison, a UCU rep at a college in Huddersfield, agreed. “I would support a strike over the pay cap,” she told Socialist Worker. “The pay cap is one symptom of why we’re here.
“We need to protest because things are getting harder and the students are getting less support.”
At the front of the march there were chants of, “What do we want? A Labour government. When do we want it? Now.”
Jan said, “Labour is what we want, they’re are the ones for us.”
Tasha was also hopeful that Labour would change things. “As soon as they’re in I think things can change,” she said
“I think Labour is going in a new direction, not the Blairite one that we’ve known, and that gives me hope.”
The Tories are in crisis, but they are not going to fall by themselves. And there is nothing inevitable about a Labour government.
Tyler said, “I think we can only get rid of the Tories electorally, but Theresa May might feel the pressure to resign.
“That’s what demonstrations like today are about.”
The protest showed the scale of anger against the Tories – and support for Jeremy Corbyn.
We need to use that mood of anger and optimism to feed resistance. Union leaders have talked tough about taking on the pay cap – now they need to ballot their members for industrial action.
A serious fightback can force the Tories from office.
Around 150 people came to a meeting organised by Unite the Resistance after the march. PCS union member Jane Aitchison said the general election was a “massive victory” as the Tories lost their majority and support for Labour surged.
She said it showed that “despite rich men controlling the media, we can change people’s minds”.
Jane added, “In the PCS we had a real terms seven-year pay cut. We have to fight now.
“Some want to wait for Labour but we can’t. Corbyn doesn’t want us to!
You can tell this because every strike that’s on he supports it. He says stick it to the bastard bosses.”
McDonald’s strikers also spoke at the rally. Tyrone said, “The support we’ve received has inspired us. We know with support we will win our demands.”
Shen added, “This strike is important because we’re attacking the bosses, not just defending what we already have.”
Ian Hodson, president of the Bfawu bakers’ union, told the meeting, “If McDonald’s workers can strike, anyone can strike. It was never a migrant worker that kept wages low or took houses – blame the right people, blame the politicians and the corporations.”
Many speakers stressed the need for unions to escalate action against the Tories.
Unison national health executive member and health worker Karen Reissmann spoke in a personal capacity. “The Tories are making clear political choices to close parts of the NHS and privatise others,” she said.
“It’s fantastic to hear Labour leaders supporting workers, but we need to fight now. We must push our union leaders to do that.”
College lecturer and UCU union member Sean Vernell, said, “There’s now a debate about capitalism versus socialism. Let’s be clear that however fast or slow you try to implement socialist policies, the bosses won’t like it. That’s why we need a mass movement.
“UCU will have a ballot over pay. The PCS and others are holding ballots. We need to put on the pressure for others to join us.”
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle