Sunday, 31 July 2011

Cut bankers' pay, not public services

Members of Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance met from 10am on Saturday morning outside the HSBC bank to protest against the recent news that bankers have awarded themselves £14billion in bonuses this year. This is despite receiving £850billion of public money to bail them out since the start of the economic crisis and the massive cuts to public services made to pay for it.


Protesters highlighted the fact that £14billion could pay for 140,000 nurses, 116,000 teachers, 120 new hospitals and 350 schools. Over 100 people signed a letter to the new CEO of Lloyds Bank, Antonio Horta-Osorio, who enjoys a salary of £1.06m, £4.5m in share options in his first year and bonuses of up to 300 per cent, demanding that top bankers pay be cut rather than public services. The outgoing CEO, Eric Daniels, received a £2.5million payout, more than half in bonuses.

Activists gave out more than a thousand leaflets in the form of £14billion notes to illustrate how the money could be better spent. The action was very well received by locals and holiday-makers alike, who expressed anger at the greed of the banks at a time of so-called austerity.

Alana Bates, from Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance said, “The government claim we are ‘all in it together’ but the actions of the banks show that the rich are not affected by the cuts and demonstrate a callous disregard for ordinary people. The government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility has reported that the richest 10% of the population have seen their share of Britain’s total income rise by 6%. This is disgraceful when the poorest and most vulnerable in society are suffering.”

Members of Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance will be meeting at 7pm on 2 August at the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street in Penzance to plan their next action. All are welcome.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The fightback against economic crisis in Ireland

Richard Boyd Barrett is an MP (TD) for the United Left Alliance in Ireland and a member of People Before Profit and the Irish SWP. He spoke at the Marxism Festival at the beginning of the month.

Events in Egypt and Greece are coming here and it is not not a question of if, but when. We have to prepare for that urgently. We are facing a systemic, global crisis of a system that has gone cannibal. Capitalism's answer to the crisis is 'more of the same'. The crisis was caused by capital being concentrated in the hands of of a minority and their answer is more privatisation and concentrating profit in even fewer hands. Every day, their response makes the crisis worse. If you take money out of workers' pockets it will harm the economy.

This government wants to save the NHS by closing hospitals, to save education by robbing schools of the investment they need, to save jobs by sacking people.There will be resistance because people need to survive. Their solution will cause massive suffering and it just cannot work. Ireland's economic situation is even worse than Greece's.

So why are the Irish not fighting back? In 2008/9 they did fight back, there were massive demonstrations and strikes. Then the union leaders wound it down because there was a general election coming and they argued Fine Gael and Labour would reverse the situation. This demoralised people. In the election, Fine Fail were kicked out and within 24 hours Fine Gael had gone back on all its promises.

Next week [this was said on 3 July - Left Turn] the EU and IMF will arrive in Ireland demanding more cuts and austerity. As these attacks hit people they will have to resist because they cannot pay their bills. The United Left Alliance has been very successful and has propelled radical left ideas into the mainstream in Ireland. There are ten left-wingers against the cuts now in the Irish Parliament and this will help the movement outside parliament. However, speeches do not change the world, only mass resistance will.

You can hear Richard Boyd Barrett's speech here.

Friday, 29 July 2011

The anti-capitalist left in Greece

Nikos Lountos is a writer and activist with the Socialist Workers Party in Greece and the anti-capitalist organisation Antarsya. He spoke on the anti-capitalist left in Greece at the Marxism Festival at the beginning of the month. This is what he said.

The first signs of working class resistance to to the crisis in Greece began about a year ago. We knew we must connect with people becoming radicalised by the movement. On one day, two million people either demonstrated, struck or occupied a square [the population of Greece is around 11 million - Left Turn]. We had Tahrir-style public occupations, working class strikes and workplace occupations. Public demonstrations give confidence to workers and strikes politicise those people involved. The anti-capitalist left has been crucial in calling for the government to default on its loans, to nationalise the banks and in occupying to save jobs.

Greece has two left parties in parliament, one of which is the Communist Party. Although it is a hard Stalinist party it has been crucial. The media tries to play the square movement off against the workers' movement, with some success as the Communist Party is hostile to the squares movement. However, the anti-capitalist left has stopped this division by being part of both movements. When the police tried to beat the occupiers out of the square it was people with the banners of the anti-capitalist left that went back in.

The movement politicises people and pushes more people towards the ideas of the left. In recent elections 20 councillors were elected for Antarsya.

In 2011 there were many fascist attacks on migrants in Greece and some argued the movement should not get involved. This is why it is so important for revolutionaries to be independent; we brought migrants to our demonstrations and defended them.

Discussions in the movements across Europe are homogenising. The events in the Middle East and North Africa have taught us not to give in to 'realism' in times of crisis. The challenge is to put the ideas of revolution into practice.

You can watch Nikos Lountos' speech here.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Resistance to austerity in Spain

Jesus Castillo, an activivst from the Andalucian Workers Union and the Spanish sister party of the SWP, En Lucha, spoke at the Marxism Festival at the begining of the month. Below is a summary of what he said.

Revolutionary organisation collapsed in Spain in the 1980s leaving a small and divided left. The Social Democrat government attack the working class, privatising sevices and cutting public sector workers' pay. This is designed to help the economic crisis but in fact it is deepening it. There is currently 50% youth unemployment and 20% of the poplulation live in poverty.

In June there was a public sector strike in Spain, following a general strike in September last year. The trade union bureaucrats did not want more strikes, they wanted 'social peace'.

Everyone was surprised at the size of the demonstrations on 15 May that were called by a small, reformist group on the internet. In February, 7 people demonstrated in Seville. On 15 May, 5000 people demonstrated. Everything has now changed. People want the rich to pay for the crisis. The movement in Spain has been inspired by the revolts in France and Greece and the student movements in Britain and Italy. More than 100 squares were occupied.

Then at the beginning of June the movement moved from the squares to neighbourhood assemblies, organising protests and stopping evictions. People then began calling for another general strike.

The presidential elections are coming up and it looks like the right will get elected. If this happens, the movement for a general strike will get stronger. Some people are starting to talk about a Spanish revolution because no-one trusts the politicians any more.

We need to co-ordinate our fights internationally; this is the key for the future.

People in Spain have realised that they are not living in a democracy. One million people marched in Spain and it was not even mentioned in the rest of the European press. They might be able to ignore a wave, but not a tsunami, so lets organise a revolutionary tsunami.

You can watch Jesus Castillo's speech here.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

People with disabilities in Cornwall fight back against the cuts

The cuts, job losses and privatisation coming from the Tory-led government affect all of us. The government is attacking all sections of the working class, much of the middle class and even the army and police, all at the same time. Therefore it makes sense for us to unite the resistance to those attacks. The 26 March demonstration organised by the TUC and the 30 June co-ordinated strikes are just the beginning of what will become a mass movement against cuts. There will be protests at the conferences of the Lib Dems in September and the Tories in October and the unions are moving towards a further strike in November.

The cuts affect us all. But they disproportionately affect women, people from black and ethnic minorities and most of all people with disabilities.

If the government proposals come to fruition, non-means tested benefits like Incapacity Benefit will be abolished from April 2012 and the Disability Living Allowance will be abolished from 2013. There is already a system of strict policing of all benefit claims by privatised medical services known as Atos Healthcare, who view all disabled people as potential criminals. People with disabilities have been further hit by cuts to support services from local authorities, cuts to housing provision and the privatisation of the NHS.

As a recent article by Iain Ferguson in the International Socialism Journal points out: "Of the £80 billion a year cut from public spending since last June, £18 billion directly affects welfare, the biggest cut since the 1920s". He goes on,

"there are the planned cuts in welfare benefits, again specifically targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable. The biggest losers here will be people with disabilities. Currently 2.6 million people claim incapacity benefit, 40 percent of them on account of mental health problems. The government intends to move 1.5 million of them onto the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA), paid at a much lower rate, via a test of their capacity to work. If after a year on ESA they have still not found work, despite the “assistance” provided by private agencies such as the hated Atos Healthcare to which the government has outsourced this task, they will be moved onto Jobseeker’s Allowance of £65 a week. The coalition’s claim that this cut is justified by the increase in the number of people wrongly claiming disability benefits is refuted by research published in January 2011 by Richard Berthoud, a leading authority on benefits and welfare. According to Berthoud, “The general assumption that these are people with trivial conditions is not supported by the evidence. It is people with more severely disadvantaging conditions that have been more affected by the trend”."
Too many people with disabilities, it seems, are living in fear of coalition government cuts which threaten their independence, care and benefits.

If this were not enough people with disabilities are subjected to daily attacks in the media. Government ministers try to smear disabled people claiming their rights as welfare cheats or drug addicts.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was formed by a group of disabled people after the mass protests against cuts in Birmingham on 3 October 2010. 3 October saw the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on people with disabilities. It was known as 'The Disabled Peoples’ Protest'. The DPAC co-founders are the original Disabled Peoples’ Protest organisers.
DPAC describes itself as being,

"for everyone who believes that disabled people should have full human rights and equality. It is for everyone that refuses to accept that any country can destroy the lives of people just because they are or become disabled or sick. It is for everyone against government austerity measures which target the poor while leaving the wealthy unscathed. It is for everyone who refuses to stay silent about the injustices delivered by wealthy politicians on ordinary people and their lives."
A new group is meeting tonight for the first time in Truro, Cornwall. Cornwall DPAC are meeting at the Railway Club, next to Truro Railway Station tonight (Wednesday 27 July) at 6:30pm. There literature states,
"this group is for disabled people, their families, friends and carers that are affected in any way whatsoever by the government’s austerity cuts. If you would like a chance to show support for the disabled community and discover how the cuts will affect some of the more vulnerable members of society, then please come and say hello, and help our voice to be heard."
This is a very welcome development. It is vital that we mobilise every constituency against the cuts and unite them in a mass movement against this nasty yet weak Tory-led coalition government. This task is as important, if not more so, in a place like Cornwall in which many people already feel isolated and neglected, than anywhere. Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance supports Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts and the two groups will, no doubt, be working together and with the unions over the coming months and years.
 
For more information, contact: cantical@gmx.co.uk

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

How can we beat the Con-Dems? (part two)

Kevin Courtney, Deputy General-Secretary of the NUT, spoke at a meeting at the Marxism Festival a few weeks ago. See here for a summary of what he said. He was followed by Laura Miles from the National Executive Committee of the UCU and secretary of UCU Left. Her contribution is summarised below.

The key question facing us at the moment is about beating the Tories and after the strikes on 30 June this is really possible. 30 June has changed the political landscape. The organised working class is back. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, tried to get mums to keep schools open and it failed miserably.

A lot has happened in a short space of time. Following on from the series of protests across the country last year at council buildings when they passed 'cuts budgets' came the UCU/NUS demonstration on 10 November 2010. There were around 50,000 people on the march and a brilliant turnout at the protest at Tory Party headquarters in Millbank. This was then followed by a lobby of parliament and demonstration on 9 December. After that there were demonstrations in Manchester and London called by the UCU and the Education Activist Network. On 26 March of this year there was the demonstration in London organised by the TUC and now we have had co-ordinated strikes on 30 June.

This is not the end, however, we have a long way to go before we beat the Con-Dems and stop the cuts. It is not helped by 'Ed Milliscab' saying we were wrong to go on strike and that we were falling into the government's trap! On 18 September there will be a protest at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Birmingham and on 2 October there will be a protest at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester. We should mobilise people to attend those demonstrations, push our unions to 'name the day' of the next wave of strike action and argue for the slogan 'walk out, stay out'. We need to set-up local organising groups that involve anti-cuts groups and trade union branches.

There is everything to play for. There was almost unanimous support for a general strike at the UCU Conference. The potential prize for us is not a repeat of 30 June but bringing out also GMB, Unison and Unite and using this as a springboard for a general strike.

Laura Miles was followed by Caroline Johnson, Assisstant Branch Secretary of Birmingham Unison, whose branch were on strike on 30 June. She summed up her contribution as follows: We need leaders in every workplace. We need to rebuild working class organisation. We need reps in every workplace. Activists should get contact details from every picket line and use them to build networks of activists that can push the struggle forward.

There was then a series of contributions from the floor:
The first speaker responded to Kevin Courtney by saying that for most people it is not just about pensions but about cuts too. When Mary Bousted, General-Secretary of the ATL union attacked Ed Milliband and bankers at the Unite the Resistance rally in London, she got the biggest round of applause of the night.

Karen Reissman, a nurse and victimised trade unionist said do not think that Unison and other unions are simply rubbish and will not strike. Unison did not want to call a demonstration on 26 March but once they did they mobilised for it and got the biggest turnout of any union. Dave Prentis may not mean what he says, when he makes grand speeches about the greatest wave of strike action since the general strike of 1926, but he is creating a space where activists can make it hard for him to back down.

Monday, 25 July 2011

How can we beat the Con-Dems? (part one)

Kevin Courtney, Deputy General-Secretary of the NUT, spoke at a meeting at the Marxism Festival a few weeks ago. Below is a summary of what he said.

The Con-Dem government have flawed economic policies: they are destroying the welfare state and cutting jobs when they should be investing and creating jobs to help the economy grow. But the key question is 'how do we stop the cuts, job losses and privatisation?', not 'How do we stop the Con-Dems?' because this might lead people to think voting Labour is the answer. Also, we must start from were people are at, and for most people, that is concern about their pay, pensions and so on.

We need to answer some specific questions around the issue of pensions such as 'Are public sector pensions unaffordable?' The 30 June strike has begun to answer qustions like this. Cameron said there is a form of pension 'apartheid' and uses this to remove people's rights. This is disgraceful. Actually the fight against apartheid in South Africa was about improving people's rights. Also, we must never forget that the Tories treated Mandela as a pariah and wore t-shirts at Henly Regatta saying 'Hang Nelson Mandela'.

Mass mobilisation really matters. More than 100,000 people were involved with demonstrations on 30 June and the teaching strikes alone were twice as big as in 2008. ACT, the secondary headteachers union are looking to ballot their members as well as the National Association of Head Teachers.

The Tories' policy is to freeze pay while inflation rises and increase pension contributions taking 13% out of six million public servants' spending power. This does not help the economy at all.

Sir Philip Green paid himself £1.2 billion  in dividends in 2005. He then gave it all to his wife and she paid no tax because she is not registered as resident in Britain for tax purposes. He has now become a 'cuts adviser' for the government. We (the workers) are all in it together, but not with George Osborne.

See also 'How can we beat the Con-Dems? (part two)', a response to Kevin Courtney.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Make the bankers pay!

Banks have been in the press this week because the Office for National Statistics have revealed that bankers have received £14bn in bonuses this year. This is a fact that should and will make people very angry.

At a time when the NHS and many of our schools are being privatised, people are facing pay freezes, redundancy or being moved on to lower benefits or off benefits altogether and there are cuts to almost every public service, this is an utter scandal. Ordinary working people are clearly being made to pay for the crisis caused by the banks, while the bankers continue to rake in the money. "We" are not "all in it together".

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance are planning a campaign to highlight this obscenity. They will use the figure of £14 billion as a starting point for a leaflet, which will be a bank note with information on bankers' bonuses and tax evasion on one side. On the other will be the ‘alternative’ which will be how many nurses, teachers, fire engines, care homes, schools etc we could pay for with the £14 billion which has just been given to bankers.

On 30 July members and supporters of Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance will meet outside the HSBC bank at the bottom of Causeway Head in Penzance at 10am. They will give out ‘money’ (leaflets) from bags to passing people. They will hold up a banner to highlight the issue. They will then move down the street stopping outside Lloyds, Santander and Barclays. Other groups and individuals are welcome to join in.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

I wish you Egypt

Omar Barghouti, from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) spoke to a meeting at the Marxism Festival recently. Below is a summary of his speech. Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights activist, former resident of Egypt, and author of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS): The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Haymarket Books, 2011).

"Besiege the besiegers, there is no other way". Palestinians saw the Arab Spring as the beginning of the end of western fetters on the region. Arabs had been seen as "outside history" by Thomas Friedman and others until the revolutions that spread across the region. There is talk of 'normalisation' but there can be no 'normalisation' with Israel all the while it is a Zionist state. Palestinians were inspired by the arab revolutions. Suddenly victory in their own struggle seemed possible again. The Nakba protests, when hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Syria crossed the Golan Heights, were a direct result of the arab revolutions. US President Obama said he stood with an arab peddler. Well yes he did, but only after he had already won.


I Wish You Egypt: An open letter to people of conscience in the West
by Omar Barghouti

I wish you Egypt!

I wish you empowerment to resist; to fight for social and economic justice; to win your real freedom and equal rights.

I wish you the will and skill to break out of your carefully concealed prison walls. See, in our part of the world, prison walls and thick inviolable doors are all too overt, obvious, over-bearing, choking; this is why we remain restive, rebellious, agitated, and always in preparation for our day of freedom, of light, when we gather a critical mass of people power enough to cross all the hitherto categorical red lines. We can then smash the thick, cold ugly, rusty chains that have incarcerated our minds and bodies for all our lives like the overpowering stench of a rotting corpse in our claustrophobic prison cell.

Your prison cells, however, are quite different. The walls are well hidden lest they evoke your will to resist. There is no door to your prison cell, you may roam about "freely," never recognizing the much larger prison you are still confined to.

I wish you Egypt so you can decolonize your minds, for only then can you envision real liberty, real justice, real equality, and real dignity.

I wish you Egypt so you can tear apart the sheet with the multiple-choice question, "what do you want?", for all the answers you are given are dead wrong. Your only choice there seems to be between evil and a lesser one.

I wish you Egypt so you can, like the Tunisians, the Egyptians, the Libyans, the Bahrainis, the Yemenis, and certainly the Palestinians, shout "No! We do not want to select the least wrong answer. We want another choice altogether that is not on your damned list." Given the choice between slavery and death, we unequivocally opt for freedom and dignified life, no slavery, and no death.

I wish you Egypt so you can collectively, democratically, and responsibly re-build your societies; to reset the rules so as to serve the people, not savage capital and its banking arm; to end racism and all sorts of discrimination; to look after and be in harmony with the environment; to cut wars and war crimes, not jobs, benefits and public services; to invest in education and healthcare, not in fossil fuel and weapons research; to overthrow the repressive, tyrannical rule of multinationals; and to get the hell out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and everywhere else where under the guise of "spreading democracy" your self-righteous crusades have spread social and cultural disintegration, abject poverty and utter hopelessness.

I wish you Egypt so you can fulfill your countries' legal and moral obligations to help rebuild the ravished, de-developed economies and societies of your former, or current, colonies, so that their young men can find their own homelands viable, livable and lovable again, instead of risking death, or worse, on the high seas to reach your mirage-washed shores, giving up loved ones and a place they once called home. You see, they're "here" because you were there... and we all know what you did there!

I wish you Egypt so you can rekindle the spirit of the South African anti-apartheid struggle by holding Israel accountable to international law and universal principles of human rights, by adopting boycott, divestment and sanctions, called for by an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society. There is no more effective, non-violent way to end Israel's occupation, racial discrimination and decades-old denial of the UN-sanctioned right of Palestinian refugees to return.

Our oppression and yours are deeply interrelated and intertwined, it is never a zero-sum game! Our joint struggle for universal rights and freedoms is not merely a self gratifying slogan that we raise; rather, it is a fight for true emancipation and self determination, an idea whose time has vociferously arrived.

After Egypt, it is our time. It is time for Palestinian freedom and justice. It is time for all the people of this world, particularly the most exploited and downtrodden, to reassert our common humanity and reclaim control over our common destiny.

I wish you Egypt!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Egyptian Revolution

Wassim Wagdy is an Egyptian SWP member based in London. He went to Egypt when the revolution began and recently spoke at the Marxism Festival in London about his experiences. Below is a summary of what he said.

News of the Egyptian Revolution spread around the world instantaneously. The authorities In China had to block the word 'Egypt' from their search engines in case people in China learned too much about what was happening in Egypt and tried to copy them.

In strikes and on demonstrations people ask for things or even make demands but in a revolution people order things. The famous slogan that spread from Tunisia to Egypt and onwards could also be translated as "It is the people's will to bring down the regime".

In Tahrir Square people changed, "I have seen the seeds of a new humanity". The army wanted to encroach a few metres on the camp in Tahrir Square. Immediately people jumped in front of tanks and stopped them. They took turns for days and had long political discussions under tanks.

Twenty four hours a day people discussed revolutionary politics and what will happen after victory, for example to the police. One said, "they must stand in a line so people can refuse whoever they like". Another replied, "then we won't have any police". Then a third said "why can't the revolutionary committees become the police of the revolution?"

The regime threw everything at the people and the people won. That night was the first night that people were not tortured. Then the army came and thousands became millions. The people said "this square, this city, this land is ours". All the tanks wore the slogan, "down with the government".

"The people and the army are one hand", beacame the slogan. This meant the army could not fire on the people. After all, it is a conscript army of many poor people.

On 8 April, there were around twenty young uniformed officers in the square. The people in Tahrir Square protected the young officers and chanted, "down with the military council".

Then came the strike wave. The regime called them selfish. The strikers were calling for the minimum wage for all, more workers' control of production, re-nationaisation, better healthcare for all and better pay for health workers.

The military now want a "return to normality". But there is now a new normality. The revolution is deepening every day but opponents of the revolution are also standing together. The revolution cannot stand still, it must go forward or back. The regime have scapegoated Mubarak, other politicians and now business leaders.

We need a revolutionary party to lead the workers to a better human society for the whole world.

A number of people made comments after Wassim had finished speaking.

Judith Orr, editor of Socialist Worker, made the point that the 30 June strikes in Britain would not have been as good as they were without the revolution in Egypt. She spoke about how the most oppressed people in society felt able to take part in the revolution: street kids, women, young people. She also called on the British government to stop bombing Libya and to let the people make their own revolution. "You don't bomb civilians to protect civilians", she said.

Sameh Naguib, an Egyptian activist and academic, said the new slogan today in Tahrir Square is "down with the field-marshall".

Richard Boyd Barrett, an activist who was elected to the Irish Parliament in February, said capitalism and imperialism has turned cannibal. We destroy the health service in order to save it, we throw people out of work in order to save jobs. Five candidates from the newly-formed United Left Alliance were elected in February in Ireland. The Irish government are hysterically saying "we are not Greece, we are not Egypt", but people do make the connections. We must "lay siege to the siege".

Socialist Worker journalist Simon Assaf said for too long arabs have been described as backward and sectarian, but throughout the revolutions people have fought against sectarianism with chants such as, "christian, muslim, one hand".

The pamphlet 'The Egyptian Revolution' by Sameh Naguib is available from Bookmarks the Socialist Bookshop for just £3.

Bosses use jargon to mask their own failings

Have you ever noticed how bosses use jargon to both mask their failings and highlight yours?

The Delivery Office Manager of a Royal Mail Delivery Office was asked why a sorting frame that he had re-organised had mail slots on the very top of the frame above head height contrary to health and safety procedures.

His response? "I am aware that it is non-compliant but it is D-Day and I had to act".

Translation: My boss insists I re-organise the frames by today but I have not taken, or do not have, the time to do the job properly, so you have to suffer because of my/my boss's incompetence.

When asked why, on another frame, addresses which had been in the correct order were now in the wrong order, the same manager replied, "we are having problems with sequencing".

Translation: I messed it up and put them in the wrong order. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Cameron, News International and the Met: how deep is the rabbit hole?

The phone hacking scandal is fast reaching epic proportions. After resigning as head of News International in Britain on Friday, Rebekah Brooks was arrested 'by appointment' by the police on Sunday. She was later released.

This was followed by the resignations of first Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson on Sunday and then Assisstant Commissioner John Yates on Monday. In his resignation speech, Stephenson made clear his anger at being criticised by Cameron for doing exactly what Cameron had himself done. The Metropolitan Police employed Neil Wallis, a former News of the World journalist, to improve their public relations. Wallis was arrested last Thursday. Cameron employed Andy Coulson, editor of the News of the World at the time of the phone hacking, as his Director of Communications after Coulson had resigned from the News of the World. Coulson subsequently resigned from that post too. It has been claimed by a number of journalists that Cameron was warned of Coulson's involvement in the scandal. Coulson was arrested on Friday 8 July.

Also on Monday the former News of the World journalist Shaun Hoare, who first made allegations of phone hacking against his former boss Andy Coulson, was found dead at his home in Watford. Police described his death as 'unexplained but not suspicious'. Hoare first told the New York Times that Coulson not only knew about the hacking but actively encouraged it. Only last week, Hoare told the New York Times that reporters could use police technology to locate people using their mobile phones. Hoare also said to the Guardian last week, "There's more to come. This is not going to go away." Of course his death at this time could be a coincidence but there are other possibilities. There are similarities between this case and the death of Dr. David Kelly who was due to reveal evidence about how the decision was made to take the country to war with Iraq in 2003.

Today reports have surfaced that Rebekah Brooks' husband's laptop had been found in a bin in a car park. He claimed he must have been busy and left the laptop.

Also today Rupert Murdoch and his son, James are appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee. When answering questions, Rupert Murdoch appeared unable or unwilling to recall anything to do with the details of events leading to the scandal becoming public. Rebekah Brooks is due to give evidence later today.

This scandal has revealed the close relationships that exist between the police, the government and the media. The Metropolitan Police have recieved payments from the News of the World and Cameron has had countless meetings with Brooks and the Murdochs. If Cameron is found to have had knowledge of illegal activities ocurring at the News of the World, his position would seem untenable. The bookmaker Paddy Power are giving odds of 7/1 that Cameron will not last the year. Events are moving at an incredibly fast pace and one thing is for certain, this is not over yet.

"The people want to bring down the regime"

Mohammed Tonsi, a participant in the Tunisian Revolution addressed a meeting at the Marxism Festival in London recently. Here is a summary of what he said.

"The people want to bring down the regime". This slogan began in Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia but it has been taken up by people fighting their governments across the region: in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

There was a general strike in Tunisia on 14 January. It was this that finally brought down Ben Ali. He was tricked by the army into going to Saudi Arabia by plane. The ruling class then tried to keep the ruling party in place.

So the new slogan was "Down with the torture of the people, down with the ruling party". Eight hours later another President was gone. The ruling party then formed 75% of the government. The protests continued until this government also fell. The next government had just 25% members of the ruling party. The protests still continued until this government fell. The next government had no-one from the old ruling party in it at all.

When Mubarak in Egypt fell, the people of Tunisia chanted, "The people want the liberation of Palestine".

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Plans for further co-ordinated strikes laid in Cornwall

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance met on Wednesday 13 July to discuss the way forward for the anti-cuts and trade union movements in Cornwall after the 30 June strikes, the march and the rally on Lemon Quay in Cornwall.

Trudy Winterburn, branch secretary of the Cornwall, Devon and Somerset branch of the PCS spoke about how around 75% of workers in the relevant civil service workplaces are in the PCS union and yet 80% of workers went on strike on 30 June. Clearly this means some of those not in the union nevertheless went on strike. She also told the meeting that there were picket lines in most places and a very high turnout on the march and rally.

The meeting agreed that it was the best action the group has organised so far and has given the group a greater respect and credibility within the trade union movement in Cornwall.

There was then a dicussion about a resolution committing Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance to campaign within the trade union movement to get more unions involved with co-ordinated strike action, to get as many unions as possible to 'name the day' of the next one day general strike and to begin building the action now. It also resolved to get strikers to speak at union branch meetings of unions that have not yet taken strike action. The text of the motion is below.
This meeting notes:

1. The Con-Dem government is determined to slash pensions, cut jobs and break up and privatise the welfare state.

2. There has been a growing tide of resistance to the government. Last year tens of thousands of students marched and occupied their colleges against education cuts. That was followed by the biggest trade union demonstration the country has ever seen on 26 March.

3. The magnificent co-ordinated strikes on 30 June by members of the ATL, NUT, PCS and UCU.

4. Dave Prentis, the leader of Britain’s biggest union, Unison, argued for long-term, targeted industrial action which would “break the pay freeze, stop the jobs cull and send the coalition packing”.

5. Some unions are talking about calling a further one-day co-ordinated strike in the autumn.



This meeting believes:

1. The June 30 strikes were a major step forward for the trade union movement but we are going to need more and bigger strikes if we are going to beat the government’s cuts.

2. It is imperative that every union is encouraged to join the next joint action.

3. That although sectional and rolling strikes can have a place in the struggles against the cuts, our union movement is at its most powerful when we are marching and striking together.



This meeting resolves:

1. To campaign to get trade unions in Cornwall, starting with our affiliates, to support the call for a one day strike or appropriate industrial action in the autumn, to the name the day as soon as possible and to begin the process of campaigning and building for it now, starting with passing this motion at the next branch meeting or other appropriate meeting.

2. To campaign for trade unionists that were on strike on 30 June to be invited to meetings of unions that were not on strike to help spread solidarity and confidence.
There was a discussion about the protest called by Right to Work outside the Tory Party Conference on 2 October in Manchester. The question was raised as to whether the group might be able to send a coach of people from Cornwall with funding from the trade unions. Many felt this was an important protest for the group to get involved in although some had concerns that the cost of the coach might be better spent on local activity given the difficult state of the group's finances. Others felt that sending people to the demonstration might help to stimulate local activity. No definite decision was reached but Trudy agreed to contact the PCS, NUT and other trade unions about funding.

Finally there was a discussion about the founding meeting of Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts scheduled for 27 July. It was agreed that organisers would not be too prescriptive but allow the attendees to decide how the group should operate and what should be its priorities. A call would go out to members to see if anyone that has any interest in disabilty issues might like to attend.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (part two)

Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian activist, writer and academic, spoke at the same meeting as Ilan Pappe. Below is a summary of what she said.

Ghada Karmi was herself ethnically cleansed in 1948, the year of the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe. Prior to 1948, Palestinians simply did not understand why the Zionist settlers thought it acceptable or just that they could arrive with a collective fantasy that the Palestinians' land should belong to these small numbers of people from Lithuania, Poland and so on. It just did not make any sense to them. They also could not understand why the British government supported the Zionists. Nevertheless Palestinians were initially very tolerant and helpful.

Palestinians only really began to understand the dangers the Zionist presence posed to them in the 1930s. There was a wave of protests but these were supressed by the British occupiers.

In 1948 Palestinians were evicted, displaced and killed in frighteningly large numbers. Whole towns were razed and place names were changed. Today street names or place names in Jerusalem and elsewhere might appear to be in both Hebrew and Arabic and in a sense they are. But it is actually simply the Hebrew name written in Hebrew and Arabic scripts.The zionists even appropriated the culture of Palestine. Today people talk about Israeli humus. But foods such as humus and falafel are Palestinian.

To this day, Palestinians cannot understand why Israel enjoys so much western support even after the massacres in Gaza and on the 'freedom flotilla'.

The movement in Britain must target this western support.

Jonathan Neale, an American activist and writer based in Britain, commented that if the arab working class get hold of the region's oil then the US may drop its support for Israel very quickly. There is then the possibility, after a short war, of a single state with jews and arabs living together in a democratic state.

John Rose, a British jewish activist, writer and academic commented that Ron Prosser, Israel's ambassador to Britain has complained recently that every time he speaks at a university in Britain he is confronted by an anti-Israel demonstration. This shows that public opinion in Britain is changing for the better.

Ghada Karmi closed by saying that there is a climate of fear and threat of intimidation around speaking out about Palestine. Nevertheless everyone should campaign, join a boycott group, start a group, contact their MP. The world will never be the same again after the arab revolutions and it is hopeful for the situation in Palestine but Israel should never be underestimated.

To buy 'Married to Another Man: Israel, the Palestinians, and the One State' or 'In Search of Fatima' by Ghada Karmi, 'Voices from the West Bank' by Chris Jones and Michael Lavalette or 'The Myths of Zionism' by John Rose see the Bookmarks website.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (part one)

At a recent meeting in London the Israeli writer and academic Ilan Pappe, whose books include 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine' and 'A History of Modern Palestine' spoke about the continuing suffering of the Palestinian people and the prospects for change in the light of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. Below is a summary of his speech.

There has been no signicicant change in the suffering of the Palestinians as a result of the 'Arab Spring'. However, the arab revolutions may change the facts on the ground. Will there be a Palestinian Revolution this year? Probably not, but then a lot of things have happened this year that were unexpected.

Ethnic cleansing is a strategy; it is ideological. It is more than just a policy for Zionists. Israel is sometimes described as a settler-colonialist state and sometimes as an apartheid state. Is Israel settler-colonialist? Yes, Zionism began as a colonialist movement but this does not explain Israel's policy towards Gaza today. Is Israel an apartheid state? In some ways it is but it does not attempt to exploit Palestinians in the same way that the white South African government exploited black South Africans. Rather Israel tries to exterminate Palestinians.

Zionism has elements that are unique to it. It does not just carry out ethnic cleansing, but a unique Zionist ethnic cleansing. Zionism tries to convince Israelis and the world that Palestine has an immigrant population, that is alien and strange. Furthermore it tries to pretend that Palestinians are usurpers of the land. This was clearly impossible for them between the founding of Zionism in 1882 and the declaration of the 'state of Israel' in 1948. Zionists knew very well that Palestine was not a 'land without people'. Up to 1937/8 this was an abstract concept. However, the rise of fascism in Europe and the realisation of the dangers of Zionism to Palestinians led to this being implemented as an actual policy.

In 1937 Zionists debated how to take as much land as possible with as few Palestinians as possible. In 1940 Zionists realised that the British would not achieve this for them so they began to plan the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Jewish supremacy, exclusivity and control dominates every area of society including the Communist Party. There are actually Communist Zionists with a lot of 'internalised existential angst'.

The 'Peace Process' is simply a cover to enable the ethnic cleansing to continue without too much criticism from other countries and this continues to this day. The ethnic cleansing continues in Hebron, Nazareth, Wadi Ara and other places.

The revolutions in the region give hope that things may change but it is still a very difficult situation. The best thing that people in the west can do is to support campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). They can also try to put pressure on their own governments to stop supporting Israel. People should challenge Israeli propaganda that claims Israel is a normal liberal democracy or that there can be a two-state solution. Israel must be countered with propaganda, activism and protest in the west. Secular and socialist forces should find a modern day solution to modern day problems. There is no excuse for ignorance in 2011.

To read books by Ilan Pappe visit the website of Bookmarks the Socialist Bookshop here. See also The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (part two) .

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Where next after 30 June strikes? Can we get a general strike in Britain?

750,000 public sector workers went on strike on 30 June in the biggest mass strike in Britain for a generation. But what comes next? What is the next step? Is a general strike like has been seen in Greece and Spain possible in Britain? And if so, how do we get there?

Dave Prentis, general-secretary of the Unison union and Len McCluskey, general-secretary of Unite, the two biggest trade unions in Britain are talking about the biggest wave of strikes for eighty years (the last general strike in Britain was in 1926). But the question remains, is this just rhetoric? The fact is, many members of those unions wanted to be on strike on 30 June and definitely want to be involved in the next wave of strikes. The leaders of those unions cannot talk about mass action and then not be seen to make it happen. Of course it is important that the rank-and-file members of the unions put pressure on their leaders too.

So far an unprecedented six unions have passed motions calling for a general strike at their national conferences. The 30 June proves that the Tories are losing the argument that strikes are unnecessary or premature. Everyone in the trade union movement is now talking about striking together.

It is important to remember that every strike builds later co-ordinated strikes. We should support every strike no matter how local. The 26 March demonstration raised the idea of "we marched together, now we must strike together" and the slogan that was used was "call a general strike". The slogan may have seemed abstract or unachievable at the time but just three months later it seems more than likely. Now we must demand that the unions 'name the day' of the next co-ordinated strikes so we can get in behind them as quickly as possible. If they call a day (and some Unison activists have mentioned 4 October as a possibility), our slogan should be "all out, stay out".

Some people will say this is overly ambitious but we must understand that things are very different in Britain now than they have been for years. Despite what we are told Britain has a long and radical tradition of strikes. The first general strike anywhere in the world took place in Britain in 1842 involving nearly half a million workers.Then there was the Chartists, the Great Unrest and the General Strike of 1926. This may have failed but that is because despite making very left-wing speeches, the trade union leaders did not prepare for the coming battle. Despite this the strikes were fantastically solid, there were action committees and the defence groups actually beat the police off the streets! But ultimately the bureaucrats, even very left-wing ones, could not break with reformism. Also the Communist Party failed to put the argument for rank-and-file action if the leaders let the movement down. In the 1970s, strikes were known as the 'British disease'.

It is also important to remember that the movements in France and Greece also took a long time to get to where they are now. At first the protests were not very good and the left and the rank-and-file had to argue hard for co-ordinated strike action.

In Britain, the idea of class organisation is back. So we must use both official channels and unofficial ones to push union leaders to 'name the day'. We must put pressure on those unions that are stalling, especially Unison and Unite. We must also argue for big mobilisations for the protests at the Lib Dem and Tory Party Conferences in Birmingham and Manchester at the end of September and the beginning of October. Activists must take the initiative and call demonstrations when the trade union leaders do not. We must raise the slogan "all out together, stay out together".

Monday, 11 July 2011

30 June: stories and experiences

At a recent meeting to discuss the strikes and rallies across Britain on 30 June lots of people had great stories to tell. Here are just a few of them:

At Birmingham Council there were ninety pickets on the picket line. Members of other trade unions refused to cross the picket, thus taking illegal, unofficial strike action. In one small workplace in Birmingham there was just one worker on strike that formed a picket 'line' with a branch officer. The first person to come along cheered when he saw the picket line and told them that he had worked there for 25 years and had never been on strike. This was his last day and he would be spending it on strike. As the morning progressed every other worker one by one refused to cross the picket line. The age of solidarity is back. This shows how things have changed in Britain. We need to link workplaces together and bring back flying pickets.

The rank-and-file membership of the British Medical Association (BMA), not usually known for their radicalism, have overthrown the leadership's attempts to end their opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill. The BMA voted for strike action over pensions with 78% in favour.

There were 30,000 strikers at a demonstration in London on 30 June but strangely there were no mounted police. Was this a change in strategy from the Metropolitan Police? No, the workers that prepare the horses for the police to use refused to do so out of solidarity with those on strike.

The Prospect civil service union, who are generally much more conservative than the PCS, recently passed a motion at their conference unanimously calling on the union to call co-ordinated strike action with the PCS.

There are many lessons from all of this, one being that workers are beginning to feel the weight of thirty years of defeats lift from their shoulders as they re-discover solidarity and unofficial action en masse. Another is that we should not just write off the big unions like Unison and Unite and assume they will not strike. If we fight both within and without those unions, putting pressure on the leaderships we can expect to see them coming on board with mass co-ordinated strike action.

We need to argue in our anti-cuts groups and our unions for arranging transport to the protest at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester in October now and to pass motions calling on the unions to 'name the day' for the next day of strike action and raise the idea of mass co-ordinated strike action in October.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The News of the World is no more [updated]

It seems the News of the World will print its last edition tomorrow in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. Where this puts the News Corp. bid to take over the rest of BSkyB will not be known for a few weeks [update 13 July 2011: News Corp. has withdrawn its bid for BSkyB ahead of a debate in Parliament calling on it to do just that].

It seems the News of the World paid £100,000 in bribes to Metropolitan Police officers to hide the fact that it was hacking the phones of the families of murder victims. With the real risk that the police might be forced to to get involved, and the takeover deal might be stopped altogether, bosses at Murdoch's media empire seem to have decided to sacrifice the newspaper in order to save themselves. They also appear to have destroyed evidence in advance of any kind of raid.

Richard Seymour argues that this is symptomatic of a wider crisis of the British media and the establishment as a whole. He describes it as perhaps 'the best thing that happened to the media in years.'

It is certainly true that Murdoch's newspapers have been key to supporting the wars in the middle east and perform a similar role in relation to the cuts now. Murdoch shores up the establishment and is a powerful instrument for trying to make working class people believe that we should pay for the economic crisis. His publications are consistently anti-worker, anti-trade union and seek to divide the working class on lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, disabilities and so on.

A defeat for him is a victory for us and a defeat for the British government and indeed the Labour Party too. Cameron is weakened and the scandal exposes the political connections which exist at the top of society and which are used against us: the media, the government, big business and the police.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance launch website

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance have just launched their Twitter page @PenwithAntiCuts and their website http://penwithanticutsalliance.wordpress.com/

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance is a group of ordinary people from the far west of Cornwall that campaigns against the cuts, privatisation and job losses we face both from the government and Cornwall Council. We are non-party political but have members from various parties and none. We have workers, trade unionists, unemployed people and retired people within our group. We come from a variety of walks of life.

The government says we must pay off the debt, that has resulted from giving £1.4 trillion pounds of our money to the banks, in five years but our national debt was greater in proportion to our gross national product in 1948 when the National Health Service was created and now it is being used as an excuse to destroy that same health service. Comparisons to credit card debt are meaningless.

Even if we do agree that we need to pay off the deficit, £120 billion in tax is either evaded (fraud), avoided (loopholes) or not collected (the last government sacked workers in HMRC, the government department that is reponsible for collecting taxes) each year according to an independent report comissioned by the PCS civil servants union. This equates to three-quarters of the deficit. If Corporation Tax (on businesses) was returned to the level it was at in the 1980s (when Maggie Thatcher was Prime Minister!) that would cover the rest of it. There would be no need to make one single cut. We could also stop invading other people’s countries and not replace Trident, our redundant, outdated nuclear weapons system (which will cost around £20 billion).

Instead we are seeing our health system privatised and starved of funds (£20 billion ‘efficiency savings’ or cuts), comprehensive education broken up and privatised (academies) and thousands of people losing their jobs, suffering a pay freeze, having their pensions raided or being moved onto lower benefits or off benefits altogether.

Locally, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust is having to find savings of around £20 million. They are cutting 400 posts at the Treliske Hospital in Truro including ‘frontline’ clinical staff such as nurses. Already nurses that have left are not being replaced. This means already overworked nurses are having to work even harder. Some nurses are working 12.5 hour shifts with just one 15 minute break. In Penzance, the West Cornwall Hospital has lost half of its medical beds, supposedly for six months, but many are sceptical if they will ever return. Close to half of all schools in Cornwall have also applied for academy status calling into question the viability of the local education authority. And Cornwall Council have cut 40% of the ‘Supporting People’ budget which exists to help the elderly and the homeless, despite government assurances that it should not be cut (through clever accounting).

In short, the government wants ordinary people to pay for an economic crisis created by the bankers, multinational companies and politicians.

This is a nasty vicious government and they need to be stopped. They are also a weak government and they can be stopped.

The biggest trade union organised demonstration in British history (between 500,000 and 750,000 people) and the fantastic strikes on 30 June when 750,000 public sector workers walked out and 100,000 took part in rallies is a great start. Now we need to go further and stop the government in its tracks and maybe bring them down.

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance (http://cornwallanticutsalliance.wordpress.com/) has taken up the challenge across Cornwall and Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance is active in the Penwith area around Penzance, St. Ives and Hayle in the far west of Cornwall. We have organised a protest and petition hand-in to local MP Andrew George over the health and social care bill, taken people to the march organised by Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance to the strike rally on 30 June and organised a protest and birthday celebration at West Cornwall Hospital on the occasion of the 63rd birthday of the NHS.

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance meet every other Wednesday at 7pm in the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street in Penzance. For more info, or to join, email pzanticuts@hotmail.co.uk, leave a message on the facebook group page or a comment on the website.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Cut the cake, not the NHS

Around twenty-five people joined a birthday celebration and protest outside West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, Cornwall today called by Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance. Today is the National Health Service's 63rd birthday and many people are concerned that it will not see its 64th in its current form. The action, like many across Britain today, was called to celebrate the NHS and its hard-working staff and to defend it from the attacks it currently faces from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill. Even in its altered form the bill increases the ability of private companies to make profit out of healthcare and is moving the NHS closer to the system of healthcare insurance found in many countries including in America.


From midday today local people assembled outside the hospital with a banner that read 'Save Our NHS:
Stop the Cuts'. There was also a cake that had been supplied, free of charge, by a local baker which read "Save our NHS, Happy Birthday, Celebrating 63 years, 1948-2011. After the protest the cake was taken inside the hospital and presented to the matron to give out to all the members of staff at the hospital. She accepted the cake and said she would give it out to staff.


A nurse told protestors, in confidence, that there is a lot of intimidation at the hospital and so it would be impossible for her or anyone she knows to join the celebration/protest. Despite this however, several members of staff said they supported what we were doing and would have joined us if they had felt able to. The hospital has had one ward containing 28 surgical beds closed, apparently for six months. However, there is much speculation as to whether or not the ward will open after the six months are over or indeed at all.


At Treliske Hospital in Truro, members of staff stood outside the hospital during their lunchbreak today and held hands to show them symbollically protecting the hospital from the attacks it faces from the government. The £20 billion efficiency savings the government is insisting the NHS finds but which should not affect 'frontline staff' is having a devastating effect on the hospital. The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust which has to make around £20 million savings is cutting 400 posts, some of which are clinical posts such as nurses. Already staff are reporting that nurses that have left are not being replaced, meaning that already overworked nurses are now having to work even harder. 


Both actions have already been reported on Pirate FM and Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance will be meeting tomorrow night at 7pm at the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street in Penzance to discuss the next steps in its campaign.

Friday, 1 July 2011

30 June: fantastic march and strike rally in Truro, Cornwall

Over 150 people assembled at Pydar House in Truro from 10am on Thursday 30 June for a march against cuts, privatisation and job losses called by Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance. Pydar House is home to Atos Origin, the company that helps to force people with disabilities off disability benefits and onto the lower unemployment benefit. The demonstrators marched down Pydar Street, through the town and into Lemon Quay. Marchers waved placards and banners including from the teachers' NUT and ATL unions, Falmouth University UCU, PCS Revenue and Customs Cornwall, Devon and Somerset Branch, Cornwall FBU, GMB and Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance. The protestors chanted "no ifs, no buts, no public service cuts" as passing cars honked their horns and people came out of shops to watch, cheer and give the thumbs-up.

As the march made its way into Lemon Quay it was cheered by around 400 strikers that had assembled at a rally organised by the NUT. The members of NUT, ATL, UCU and PCS trade unions were on strike over government attacks on their pensions and to prevent damaging attacks on the services they provide. Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance members and supporters then joined the rally to demonstrate their support for the strikes and to make it a day of resistance to all the attacks on ordinary people including to the National Health Service, people with disabilities and the homeless. Members of the newly-formed Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts were also present.

Speakers at the rally included representatives of all the striking unions as well as from Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance, Unison and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Alana Bates, Campaigns Officer for Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance congratulated the striking unions on their action and went on to say "people should unite against the cuts and today is the start of that. Nobody voted for these policies yet the Tories are dismantling and selling off the welfare state. We are not on the side of the banks and the millionaires in government, we are on the side of ordinary people who are fighting to defend living standards for all of us".

Keith Shilson, march organiser for Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance said "it was a fantastic day. The level of support for the march demonstrates that most people don't buy the government's rhetoric that tries to demonise the strikers. Most ordinary people understand that the strikers are fighting for all of us and give them their full support. The government is trying to make ordinary people pay for the crisis that was caused by the banks and today we said, in very clear terms, that we will not allow that to happen".