The Browning Column: NOT ONE DAY MORE – Leah joins a hundred thousand others in London to protest against austerity.
Comment & Opinion
Over a hundred thousand people headed to London last Saturday (July 1st) – I was one of a healthy contingent from Cornwall and Plymouth – all enthusiastic to exercise their right to peaceful protest at The People’s Assembly National Demonstration ‘Not one day more‘. We marched from BBC Broadcasting House to Parliament Square as the collective voice of opposition, calling for an end to austerity & for Theresa May’s resignation.
The protest was called by The People’s Assembly Against Austerity. Not linked or affiliated to any political party, they encourage a diverse range of passionate individuals to come together, as a broad united national campaign against austerity measures, cuts and privatisation.
“The Election result represents a rejection of Tory policies. They know they have no mandate; already the Government has suggested they may have to ease their austerity plans because of huge opposition.”
The People’s Assembly
Conservatives have argued that austerity is a necessity to ‘balance the books’ and ‘live within our means‘ however there is a growing belief that it is a political choice & not an economic one. To many on the march on Saturday it’s nothing short of a cruel ideological war on the poor. A “Class war”.
The economic argument has fallen apart as the office of National statistics reported GDP grew at just 0.2 per cent during the first three months of this year – slower than all other G7 and European countries. The UK is now the worst performing advanced economy in the world!
Austerity has failed.
On Saturday, a diverse beautiful compassionate people, of all ages, abilities, gender, colour, race, sexual orientation and religion, came together in celebration of their unity and resistance to Tory cuts.
There was an electrifying carnival vibe as people were dressed up, music and drums played and rolled through the streets, vibrant flags flown, humorous placards and chants bringing together the collective voices of those who demanded to be heard.
Anger was directed at Whitehall & could be felt through the crowds, as they congregated to roar like lions at Theresa May.
The march ended up in Parliment Square and heard inspiring speakers including Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Sian Berry (Green party), Owen Jones, representatives from unions & various fierce campaigners – followed by performers Shy FX, Captain Ska & various others.
I asked self-employed Kevin Ewert from Cornwall why he attended,
“These are historic times. When my grandkids ask me what I did back then, I want to tell them honestly that I did everything I could”
Sue Pethick from Padstow spoke about her reasons for marching and her support for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke at the event.
“Our NHS, HOUSING, and EDUCATION must be properly funded and protected for the sake of our children’s future!! And all of our public sector workers paid a morally decent wage in order for them to continue to deliver such outstanding services without struggling to do so!! Austerity is killing this incredible country and all of it’s core values. It’s time to bring it back into the hands of the people, with a leader for the people!! For the many..not the few!! JC4PM”
Shayne Adams who drove up from Cornwall said
“I don’t trust our current government to come to the conclusion that their ideologically motivated version of austerity is wrong all by themselves.
“On a local level, applying any kind of pressure to our MP is absolutely pointless. Sheryll Murray has notoriously shut down debate and is perfectly comfortable attending fundraising barbecues rather than rolling up her sleeves to bring about the social changes desperately required in SE Cornwall. There are genuine victims of modern society all around us, however she isn’t one of them.”
Shayne continued “We already know that there are a minority of Tory MPs who don’t want to find themselves on the wrong side of history. Justine Greening is already demanding some Magic Money Tree cash for education. But these changes of heart don’t happen by accident – the right kind of pressure is required to win the war on being at peace with inequality.”
Despite Cornwall being one of the most impoverished places in the UK & Europe, it voted to returned it’s 6 Conservative MPs and has signed up to this shameful manifesto of austerity, decimating our communities and eroding essential services.
While austerity continues, expect proactive people to continue to challenge, fight and speak out for equality, social change, in defence of our communities and the most vulnerable people within them.
Being among 100k plus people who all want the same thing is energising and reminds us that we are indeed many, we have a voice and we are still free to use it.
Join local campaigns, write to your MP, attend protests, get informed, talk to people, and challenge the rhetoric that things have to be this way, they don’t and they won’t if we all stand together for real change.
People marched on a range of issues, some included;
In 2010 the NHS was deemed “the best in the world” by 2015 death rates in the UK were on the rise for the first time in 50 years, Oxford University blaming cuts to the NHS & Social care. Christmas 2016 saw the Red Cross step in, calling it ‘a humanitarian crisis’. We saw Treliske & Derriford among other hospitals on BLACK ALERT.
To date the NHS has rising waiting lists, cut backs, unfilled vacancies, less hospital beds, the selloff of community hospitals and the closure of minor injury units and hospitals in Saltash, Fowey & St Ives.
Further “efficiency savings” to our NHS are to be outlined in Sustainability & Transformation Plans, referred to by the BMA as “Slash, Trash & Privatise“.
The STPs, when partnered with the Naylor report, clearly outline further devastating underfunding, rationing of service, privatisation and a sell off of OUR NHS.
Nationally, rough sleeping has increased by 134% since 2010 with numbers of households in temporary accommodation continuing to rise, soaring by 61%.
The roll-out of Universal Credit and changes to housing benefit, part of the Austerity measures are undoubtedly to blame.
Many held “Justice for Grenfell” placards as the burnt out tower stands in London as a hideous ugly monument to the housing crisis, austerity, deregulation and outsourcing. A minutes silence was held in memory of those who tragically lost their lives and a minute of cheering for the fire fighters.
Claire Stowart from Plymouth said:
“Seeing (and feeling) this haunting, sickening, heartbreaking image of death , pain and austerity reminded all of us on the coach why we were protesting, the reason I got off my backside to say ‘This should never have happened ‘ … ‘No more'”
“Despite government pledges that schools would be protected from cuts, some school support staff are facing redundancy as headteachers struggle to balance their books. These cuts are hitting a wide range of staff, from school crossing patrols through to teaching assistants. Cuts hit the quality of education and put vulnerable children at risk” say Unison.
The funding formula due to be implemented is set to see further cuts to schools budgets according to Unions, who put the average loss at £338 per primary school pupil & £436 per secondary pupil by 2020. Many schools sent desperate letters to parents, requesting donations and that they contact local MPs on the issue of funding.
Jo Yurky spoke at Parliament square about the “Fair funding for schools” campaign initiated a year ago, seeing parents from up and down the country campaign for adequate funding for schools.
Zero hour contracts & self-employment are at a record high. 910,000 in the UK have zero hour contracts and potentially zero hours of work. On paper these people are in employment but in reality they are often forced to walk the breadline.
One third of Britain have lived in poverty with 67% of children classed as living in poverty from working families. Foodbank statistics are at record highs of 1,182,000, increasing on roll out of “The Tory Flagship” Universal Credit.
Income for working-age adults is no higher than 8 years ago according to The Institute for fiscal studies, with pay caps to public sector workers being voted to remain & even cheered by the Tories.
Credit to Hayley Kemp for Grenfell banner photo & Claire Stowart for photo of Grenfell tower from the coach.