Around 10,000 people joined the No to Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out demonstration in London today, Saturday. It was organised by Stand Up to Racism and the People’s Assembly. Hundreds also came to a rally in Glasgow.
It was an important show of anti-racist unity and an immediate challenge to the new Tory prime minister Theresa May.
Marchers made clear there will be a continuing battle against austerity, and a refusal to allow racism to divide us.
Many of the London marchers were also strongly in support of Jeremy Corbyn.
In Parliament Square speakers put out a clear call for resistance.
Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand Up to Racism, said, “I was asked by a TV station if we’re confident to confront what’s in front of us. I said yes.
“You hear that Theresa May is strong. This is rubbish. The Tories are divided.
“People are suffering. But blame the Tories, the bosses, the bankers – not migrants and refugees.
“If you’re a migrant worker, wherever you’re from, you’re welcome here – stay.”
Mona Kamal, a junior doctor, said, “The amount that immigrants have put in is way more than they have ever taken out. We rely on them to keep the NHS functioning.
“This country should not just be welcoming immigrants and refugees. We owe them our respect and admiration.
“It’s no coincidence that the lies we are told about immigrants come from the same people championing austerity.
“The fact that Theresa May had kept Jeremy Hunt as health secretary shows her commitment to his agenda of privatisation.
“As junior doctors we need to show the same commitment, and fight this contract with all the tools available – including the 96 percent mandate for industrial action.”
Talha Ahmad, from the Muslim Council of Britain said, “If you listen to our government you would think we must be one of the poorest countries in the world.
“The problem isn’t that we don’t have any money. It’s that we have a government that doesn’t have the will to stand for everyone.
“Last night in Turkey we saw that tanks and bullets are useless when people stand firm. We will fill the squares and the streets of this country against this government.”
Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War, said, “Last week Chilcot told us what we already knew—Tony Blair took us to war on the basis of lies.
“The people paying the price are the millions of Iraqis and the Muslims of Europe faced with huge waves of islamophobia and racism.
“Let’s not pretend that terrorist attacks come from nowhere. They come from a world of occupation and invasion.
“Across Europe and the world we are seeing the polarisation of politics. The refugee crisis is a product of these wars. Theresa May has attacked refugees, she’s supported war and rendition.
Oktay Sahbaz from the Turkish and Kurdish organisation Day-Mer, said, “At Day-Mer we want to be part of the fight against austerity and racism. Our need for solidarity is growing every day.
“The coup attempt yesterday is a reflection of the tension between the oppressive forces in Turkey. This is not in the interests of the people of Turkey.
“We make it very clear. We say no to the military coup, no to an authoritarian regime.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a message to the march: “A year ago the massive anti-austerity march showed a different kind of politics. Austerity is a political choice, not a necessity.
“I look forward to seeing you all at the campaign events this summer. Together we can win.”
Sam Fairbairn from the People’s Assembly said, “Our message to Theresa May is that you should get used to thousands on the streets against you. We will not stop until you’re gone.
“May wants to build a Britain for the privileged few. She said she wants to send home migrants that earn under £30,000 a year.
“The government is weak and divided after the EU referendum, with a tiny majority. We need to organise against them.
“The People’s Assembly is calling a massive demonstration in Birmingham when the Tories hold their conference there on 2 October.
“Tories out now.”
Shakira Martin, NUS vice president Further Education, said, “Brothers and sisters are being brutally murdered in the US and Britain and across the world.
“Racism still exists as much as when my grandmother was alive. I don’t want to be the parent of children who are victims of police violence.
“I’m sickened at a Tory government prepared to use racism as a tool to divide us. I’m a proud supporter of Jeremy Corbyn.
Antonia Bright from Movement for Justice said, “When Theresa May first took over at the home office there was a new policy called Hostile Environment. The policy was to drive people into destitution.
“Anti-immigrant policies are the backbone of austerity. We have to say no and we’re fighting back.
In detention centres every day there is a struggle going on.
“Come out on 10 September for the next demo at Yarl’s Wood.”
Reports from disputes around Britain
Security services were involved
Move will increase police racism
Johnson could enrage all sides