I know a lot of Labour activists will be too deeply involved in the elections due on 15th November to take time out this Saturday (20th October) to march on the TUC “A Future That Works” demonstration against austerity.
But I hope that there will still be a big Labour Party presence on the march, particularly from those of us from London CLPs not facing elections and with the least far to travel.
A big demonstration won’t change the Coalition’s austerity policies. Only a change of government will do that.
But if we don’t express our anger about the way the cuts are not just damaging vital services, but also choking off any hopes of economic recovery, the government will take our inactivity and silence as signs of passive endorsement of their policies. A small march on Saturday will make them see their opponents as feeble and encourage them to think they can get away with even more extreme measures, whereas a big march will give them pause for thought.
The “why we’re marching” section of the demonstration website shows that the TUC’s message for this march is broadly the same as that of Labour’s frontbench economic team:
“Austerity isn’t working. Our country faces long-term economic problems. But our political leaders have failed to face up to them. For the next five years or more, unless policies change the economy will not grow, incomes will not rise, and there will be almost no new jobs. If the government keeps on with big spending cuts and austerity we face a lost decade. Even on their own terms government policies are failing. To close the deficit we need a healthy growing economy that generates tax income. But austerity has led to a vicious circle of decline.
Instead of just letting the banks go back to business and bonuses as usual, we need policies that promote new and old industries. This new approach would create jobs, especially for young people.
It would encourage companies to raise average pay, penalise big bonuses and invest in training and new industries. It would crack down on tax evasion by big companies and the super-rich. It would tackle the growing inequality between the super-rich and everyone else. Rather than deep, rapid spending cuts, we need to reverse our decline and build an economy that works for ordinary families.”
Whilst many Labour members will be proudly marching with their trade unions, there is a particular need for the Labour Party itself to be a visible presence on this march through local CLPs marching with their banners, reinforcing Ed Miliband’s presence as a speaker at the post-march rally:
- The Government wants to drive a wedge between Labour and the unions. We need to counteract this with a visible display of labour movement unity and solidarity.
- If Labour isn’t seen to be a leading part of the fight-back against austerity we run the risk that other political forces will exploit and subvert the anger many people want to express about the cuts.
- Those of us who are elected office-holders have a responsibility to publicly demonstrate our opposition to the way the cuts are affecting the communities we represent.
- We can’t expect people whose lives are being damaged by the cuts to sit back and wait until the 2015 General Election before expressing their distress. This protest provides a way for people to express themselves now, peacefully but clearly.
So please try to be there on Saturday at 11am at the Embankment, and encourage other members of your local Labour Party to join you. Bring your CLP banner if you have one! Everything you need to know about the logistics of the day is here.