Thousands of people are marching in central London today, Saturday, against austerity and racism. Many are part of local delegations from across Britain or with their union branches holding banners.
A young and vibrant Black Lives Matter bloc is already chanting, “No justice, no peace” and there are Jeremy Corbyn placards and badges everywhere.
The conversations are dominated by anger at the Labour coup and fear of a right wing backlash after Brexit – with anti-racist placards the most popular. But there is also defiance against the new Tory government.
Caragh, a Labour Party member from Croydon, is protesting for democracy. “The way Theresa May has been installed unelected has made a lot of people realise what some of us knew all all along – that they might let us vote once every few years but when they want to do something they don’t hesitate.”
She added, “The Labour right are really afraid of social media and demonstrations. The only way they can stop Corbyn winning is if they rig it.”
Lindsey from Momentum said, “I’ve been in the Labour Party since 1994. We’re here to show support for Jeremy. Today’s demo is so important. Not everyone who voted leave was a racist and we need to mobilise against racist attacks.”
Student Sarah from Cambridge said, “I’m just here to show solidarity with refugees. It’s something that shouldn’t even be a question – it’s about being a decent human being.”
Ian, a researcher from York, said, “Recently I joined Labour and Momentum in response to the disgraceful coup against Jeremy Corbyn. I think he is the best hope we have.”
He added, “I came to the protest because I’m worried at how the far right and racists feel legitimised by the Brexit decision. We need to show them they don’t speak for the majority.”
Council worker Duncan is one of ten marchers from two Unison branches in Manchester.
He said, “The attacks on refugees and on workers are going to continue even if the Tories have a new leader – and history shows we can only get anything if we demonstrate.”
Duncan added, “I was glad when I heard the referendum result. I voted out – it was clear to me it wasn’t about racism. But it’s good that people who voted in are here – now the vote is over we need to stand together.”
DWP worker and PCS rep Karen thinks Theresa May will be “useless – but there isn’t anyone in that party who would be any good”. She hopes for an early general election to get the Tories out “and I do wish the Labour right would stop backbiting against Jeremy Corbyn and focus on the real enemy instead.”
Mia from Lancaster said, “It’s important to march against racism because people can start to turn against each other in times of austerity”
Rose Alexis said, “I’m here to support Black Lives Matter, Corbyn and to provide solidarity with refugees. We need to link up all these struggles. People need to come together from different groups and fight back.”
Venice Allan from Lewisham in south east London said, “I’m from Momentum. So I’m here to support Jeremy Corbyn but also to protest against racism and austerity.
“We’ve got a new prime minister and a new cabinet. Theresa May has already talked about capping immigration.”
“I’m a new Labour Party member so I’ll have to pay the £25. That’s not going to be easy because I’m a single mother on a part time job. But I think it’s important.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a genuinely socialist leader of the Labour Party—and they’re trying to take that away from us.”
Tim, a Unison rep and library worker in Lewisham said, “Lewisham Council, which is run by Labour, wants to close four libraries. But there was huge opposition to this in their own consultation and on a march last May.
“We’re going to strike on Wednesday and keep striking until they stop the library cuts. We’re also going to lobby the council when the mayor and cabinet meet on Wednesday.
“The Tories are in disarray—Labour councils need to stop cuts. And Labour MPs need to stop attacking Corbyn so we can all take on the Tories.”
Amy, a member of Hackney Momentum, said, “This is a key time to support Corbyn. The Parliamentary Labour Party disgusts me. The claims of harassment against Momentum are ridiculous— the right has harassed the left for years.
“I joined Labour because of Corbyn, the MPs’ action is making me question my membership of the party.“Even if Corbyn hangs on what’s going to happen when he comes up against the civil service and the establishment?”
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