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People meet to stop the rich robbing the poor

This article is over 13 years, 5 months old
The number of people attending anti-cuts mass meetings is on the rise as the impact of Tory cuts begins to sink in, writes Viv Smith
Issue 2221
The meeting in Tower Hamlets last week  (Pic: Kelvin Williams)
The meeting in Tower Hamlets last week (Pic: Kelvin Williams)

From Bath to Doncaster trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners and community activists have begun organising united resistance to cuts as the summer comes to an end.

A 200-strong anti-cuts meeting in Towewr Hamlets, east London, on Tuesday of last week brought together school and college students, health workers, teachers, lecturers, community activists and private sector workers.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, got a huge round of applause when he spoke about how firefighters across London are preparing for strike action.

Wrack reflected the anger in the room when he said, “We’re told we’re all in it together, but some are doing better than others aren’t they?

“The bankers have got their bonuses back, the banks we bailed out are off the hook, and there has been a sustained attack to shift the blame for causing the crisis onto public sector workers.”

Labour veteran Tony Benn also spoke. “In our past, working people won because they stuck together. Solidarity is the greatest weapon at our disposal,” he said

On the same evening in Nottingham more than 150 people came together to launch a united campaign of resistance to the cuts.

Local Labour MPs Vernon Coaker and Lilian Greenwood spoke at the meeting, as did Labour councillor Alan Rhodes, the leader of the opposition on the council.


Trade unionists from the CWU, PCS, NUT, Unison and Ucatt attended and addressed the meeting. So did campaigners from Right to Work, the campaign to get Fernwood High School refurbished and disability rights campaigner Liz Silver.

The meeting backed the protest outside the Tory conference this Sunday and the trades council announced that it would sponsor a free coach to the protest.

And over 200 people attended the launch meeting of Barnet Alliance for Public Services in north London.

They heard film director Ken Loach, Defend Whittington Hospital Campaign secretary Shirley Franklin, Anti-Academies Alliance campaigner Nick Grant and John Lister from Health Emergency.

The meeting follows a 200‑strong lobby of the council against cuts and privatisation in Barnet council.

And over 75 people attended the launch meeting of the Doncaster Anti-Cuts Coalition.

Meanwhile some 150 people attended the Hackney Alliance to Defend Public Services meeting in east London.

Becky, a tube worker, spoke about the ongoing fight for jobs and safety on the London Underground and the importance of workers’ solidarity to their struggle.

Author and activist Michael Rosen told the meeting, “I’m very optimistic—as the system is so naked, it becomes clearer to all of us that the rich are stealing from the poor to get richer.”

At a Right To Work meeting in Manchester activists expressed the growing mood of resistance in the city.


Midwife Sarah Davies, from the campaign to Keep Salford Maternity Services, brought a delegation to the meeting. “Salford has one of the best performing maternity hospitals in England,” she said.

“We think we can win the fight to keep it. Our fight to keep these services will prepare us for the bigger fights over cuts that are to come.”

Collette, a local community activist, said, “The black and minority ethnic community is always at the bottom when it comes to provision. The cuts will affect us, and we need to get the message out that there is a fight back.”

This mood of resistance will be seen on the streets of Birmingham this weekend. We have to build on this in towns and cities countrywide in the months to come.

In the colleges

Students across Britain are beginning to join the fightback.

Lisa Hand, who studies drama at Kingston University in London, told Socialist Worker that students had got together to campaign against education cuts and organised a coach to Birmingham.

“I believe everyone has the right to education, with well stocked facilities and able lecturers,” said Lisa.

“I also believe everyone has the right to work for a living wage. Cuts will take that away.

“That’s why I’m marching—we have to start fighting back.”


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