On Saturday 23rd October, the TUC organised a series of coordinated demonstrations across the UK to protest against the cuts announced at the Comprehensive Spending Review. ThisAintNews.com Senior Political Correspondent Pablo 4:20 attended the Sheffield rally...
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The GMB Union had organised a free coach for its members to travel from Leeds to Sheffield via Wakefield. It was clear as we set off that the coach was under-occupied, the members on board visibly disappointed. Once we stopped at Wakefield to pick up members from the regional head office where turnout was much better spirits on board seemed much higher. Some Communist Party members at the back of the coach were discussing politics in typically sectarian terms; some things on the left never change. I wondered briefly what they'd make of my own political affiliation to the Green Party . Probably best to keep quiet...
We arrived in Sheffield with a few hours to spare until the scheduled start of the rally. Enough time to grab some early lunch (inb4 mmateri: Lol! Course there was you fat fuck etc.). Walking from the GMB office to the local Wetherspoons McPubTM
I passed the city hall steps where the rally was to take place. Not much happening so far, just the Socialist Worker setting out a stall. It was a typically damp, drizzly Yorkshire morning. I wondered whether or not anyone would would show up at all in such shitty weather.
After lunch I returned to discover a square transormed into a bustling crowd of flags, banners and the essential
umbrellas; it was pissing down at this point but that hadn't dampened spirits one iota. There were loud chants of "Unite! General Strike!" Echoing through the mass of union members, general public and students (who were know doubt infuriated by the reneging of Liberal Democrats pledge to the NUS).
TUC Regional Secretary Bill Admas introduced the speakers, who varied from the cautious to the militant. Easily the most militant was Marion Lloyd from the PCS. Of the bank bailout she declared, "They shouldn't have bailed out the banks; they should've nationalised
them!" That was well received. Equally crowd pleasing was her call to follow the French example and stage a General Strike. The "Genral Strike" chant started up again.
At the more cautious end of the spectrum a nurse and union steward (I didn't get her name) warned against such radical measures. "We need to get the public on our side first" she implored. "We need to be ready
" She repeatedley emphasised.
Local Labour MPs Angela Smith and Paul Bloomfield were also in attendance. They expressed disquiet at the fact that their new party leader and MP for nereby Doncaster North , Ed Milliband, had declined to join them. It seems clear how the Labour Party establishment are responding to this crisis; sitting on the fence and hoping for the best.
The presence of a former Lib Dem Councillor who had defected Labour following the formation of the coalition offered an insight into the strategy that the anti-cuts coalition could pursue in bringing down the Governent. Surely if more of his ex-party colleagues were to grow a backbone, the coalition would rapidly fold.
After the crowd had disbursed we retired to McPubTM
for a post rally drink.
"Good turnout." I cheerfully remarked to a GMB veteran propping up the bar.
"You thought so?" He replied. "Hardly going to frighten the establishment."
"People, will realise," I assured him, "When the cuts start to bite they'll realise."
"It'll be too late by then." He replied.
His pessimism was a little disheartening as he regailed me with the time he lead a crowd at least twice the size into the very same City Hall and occupied it twenty years ago. We discussed France, where he'd just returned from, and the difference in attitudes there, how their country was founded on popular revolt, whereas ours, well...
"We missed out on the revolution." He remarked.
On the coach back to Leeds the heated political debate at the back had broken out into an argument. Same old sectarian bullshit the left have been arguing over for about 150 years. Say what you want about the right, at least they know how to do unity.
When I arrived home I checked the news for coverage of the days events and to see how the other rallies went. Edinburgh had 20,000 on the streets. Damn jocks putting us to shame, no wonder they love France so much...