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Saturday, 22 June 2013

The People's Assembly cannot be a one-off rally - ORGANISE !

Over 4,000 are in attendance at The People's Assembly - we will be heard, we will set the agenda - we are the people !!!

The thousands who are gathered at the People's Assembly Against Austerity, are drawn from across our society, have a historic responsibility.

Faced by the relentless onslaught of an ideology based on self-serving greed - one that views ordinary people as commodities to be exploited, and worthless if they cannot be - we must not be found wanting.

Today's People's Assembly cannot be a one-off rally that brings people together in anger but without focus and practical results.

It must serve as the first step towards a broadbased movement that joins communities and established organised forces around a new economic programme to put ordinary people, not the forces of capital, in the driving seat.

In the months to come there will be many challenges.

But we must not be diverted from the goal of uniting around a broad policy programme that can answer the endless diet of austerity, where the only “alternative” currently on offer is the same but with a few minor amendments.

Our programme must be inspirational and bold but realistic - it will need to give people the hope of the achievable.

We will have to overcome a virtual media blackout on alternative ideas.

Civil disobedience, direct action, protest, and coordinated mass strike action - all will be part of the arsenal.

But without clear, achievable goals based around the kind of society we desire such efforts will remain isolated gestures of resistance.

The months to come will provide challenges in meeting people's expectations and in creating an inclusive movement that maintains its focus on mounting a serious anti-austerity fightback.

We must rise and overcome them - the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats & The Labour Party - ignore us at your peril !!

After decades on the back foot, the time has come to grab the centre of gravity away from the dismal, divisive politics of the right and lay a new path of hope and social solidarity.

We owe it to those in whose footsteps we tread, bearers of a proud tradition of resistance and political campaigning for a better society.

*** Our REPORT from London - The People's Assembly

Unemployed activists, disabled campaigners & trade unions warned today of a co-ordinated action against the Government's spending cuts. Thousands of activists gathered to highlight the impact of the coalition's controversial austerity measures.

The People's Assembly brought together the unemployed, unions, politicians and campaign groups amid complaints that minsters were "deaf" to the concerns of ordinary people.

Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants warned: "Today's People's Assembly cannot be a one-off rally that brings people together in anger but without focus and practical results.

It must serve as the first step towards a broad-based movement that joins communities and established organised forces around a new economic programme to put ordinary people, not the forces of capital, in the driving seat.

Civil disobedience, direct action, protest, and coordinated mass strike action - all will be part of the arsenal.

But without clear, achievable goals based around the kind of society we desire such efforts will remain isolated gestures of resistance".

More than 4,000 people packed into the Methodist Central Hall Westminster, cheering speeches from union leaders including Len McCluskey of Unite the Union, Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services Union, Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers, politicians including Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and officials from a number of protest and campaign groups. McCluskey said the UK economy was "dead in the water", and accused the Government of refusing to consider alternatives to austerity.

"Our message is different - make the tax avoiders pay, make the wealthiest put their hands in their pockets to bail us out of the crisis they have caused. If the government spent one tenth of the resources that they do hunting down so-called "welfare fraud" in tackling tax avoidance, in tackling tax dodging then the budget deficit would start to melt away."

McCluskey said local People's Assemblies should become a mobilising force against cuts, adding: "We need to demonstrate, protest and lobby, and we need to do more - take direct action to let the elite know we are here.

"We must all work together to build the fighting spirit which creates the climate for mass industrial action. Let me make it clear to politicians of all parties - if it is right to strike against austerity in Greece, in Spain, in France, then it is right to strike against austerity here."

Delegates attending the conference agreed to mobilise for a day of civil disobedience on November 5 against the Government's austerity measures.

They also agreed to support a union-organised demonstration at the Conservative Party annual conference in the autumn.  

November 5th is Guy Fawkes day & on that date will be our 'Civil Disobedience Day' - EVERYWHERE throughout Britain.....
Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services union said: "In the face of a government that is borrowing more for failure and inflicting on us the longest economic slump in living memory, we need to be united. We need unity among our trade unions, in our workplaces and in our communities, and we need to be working together and co-ordinating protests, industrial action and civil disobedience."

He added: "We must also recognise that the People's Assembly isn't just a reaction to this government's policies, it is an opportunity to say that austerity is not the answer now and nor will it be under any government. It is an opportunity to set out an alternative that can inspire people, one where we invest in our communities and our economy for the benefit of the millions, not just the millionaires.

He summed up his speech with a succinct message, saying: "let our slogan be 'stuff your austerity, we want something different.'"

A series of People's Assembly meetings have been held across the country in recent months, which have been packed with members of the public. A survey of almost 1,500 adults in England for the Unite union revealed two thirds wanted the coalition to concentrate on investing in jobs and growth, even at the expense of deficit reduction. The poll showed two out of three people faced money troubles or job worries, with many voicing concern about soaring energy bills at a time of pay and benefit cuts.

McCluskey said the survey, published ahead of next week's Government Spending Review, revealed "genuine worries" among the public. "The Government is deaf to the everyday worries of ordinary people struggling to get by in towns across England. These figures remind us that deteriorating living standards, low wages, youth unemployment and job insecurity are now a major part of people's everyday lives."

He added: "Next week an out of touch Chancellor from an out of touch Government will claim that austerity is delivering the green shoots of recovery. Ordinary people seeing their young people on the dole, food bank queues stretching even longer and the NHS breaking will not buy this."

Green Party of England and Wales MP Caroline Lucas said: "The huge numbers of people here today show that there's a growing movement supporting alternatives to austerity - alternatives like investment in the green economy, which is far more labour intensive than the fossil fuel economy it replaces, and which would create hundreds of thousands of jobs at the same time as reducing our carbon emissions.

"The anti-austerity campaign and the environmental movement have to work together to deliver a safer and fairer society. "Our challenge now is to make our voices larger, louder and clearer and build a joined up movement that will stand up for the many not the few."


Socialist Housing Barrister and Chair of the Haldane society Liz Davies underlined the need for immediate action explaining that the way the law currently stands, no judge will ever side with an evicted tenant over a landlord. "The left cannot stand by and wait for the next labour government in the hope that it will step up and solve the problem, while people are being thrown out of homes."
"Councils do have a choice...we need to build a new consenses, we need practical solidarity to defeat this wicked and immoral bedroom tax by popular protest."

There are more than 6,000 people living on the streets, in London alone, and an even larger number "sofa surfing" or living in temporary accommodation which is directly attributable to government policies. SQUASH, a leading squatters action group said "squatters are demonised and presented as bogeymen but these are simply ordinary people - excluded by the housing market - looking for a roof over their heads."

Speakers from the floor reinforced this message and underlined the need for practical action to support people facing eviction, concrete action against rogue landlords, an end to exploitative rents and the neoliberal consensus on home ownership. Delegates pledged to work with each other to take direct action and build grass roots support for decent affordable housing.


Group member of Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants - Mark McGowan interviews National Executive Committee member of the Public and Commercial Services Union 'Zita Holbourne' the trade union within Jobcentre Plus & Department for Work and Pensions - DWP - on austerity & the Conservatives agenda to SMASH the Welfare State.

ref:
Mark McGowan - Artist Taxi Driver

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