Anti-austerity marchers greet Conservatives in Manchester
THE time is up for the Tories’ desperate attempt to cling to power, Labour and left activists have declared as they begin five days of action in Manchester.
People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn told the Star yesterday that “the Tories are in turmoil” in the run-up to Sunday’s demonstration at the Conservative Party conference in the city.
He said the Take Back Manchester festival — five days of meetings, protests and cultural events starting today — would expose a “deeply divided government” and “demonstrate the huge opposition to the politics of austerity, racism and war.”
Tens of thousands of people are expected to travel on coaches from across the country, with the protest being supported by trade unions and progressive organisations.
The demonstrators will call for an end to austerity and the public-sector pay cap and for decent health, homes, jobs and education — basic demands that the People’s Assembly says should be achievable in one of the world’s richest economies.
The protest comes at the end of a week in which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opened a clear division over capitalism when he told his party’s conference in Brighton that neoliberalism was a “broken” system, a statement that led Theresa May to leap to the defence of the free market.
And Labour takes that message right across the country today, with members campaigning in 420 constituencies.
Shadow cabinet big-hitters are heading to target seats, with John McDonnell rallying the troops in Milton Keynes, Diane Abbott in Rugby, Ian Lavery in West Lothian, Cat Smith in Clwyd West and Barry Gardiner in Harrow East, while Mr Corbyn himself heads to Thurrock.
June’s general election saw the Tories lose their parliamentary majority and called into question Ms May’s future as prime minister.
Mr Fairbairn said the result was a rejection of austerity that had left the Tories with a “weak, unstable government.”
Despite this, the government remains committed to “cuts, privatisation and eroding workers’ rights,” voting down a Labour amendment to the Queen’s Speech that would have lifted the public-sector pay cap.
Mr Fairbairn continued: “The Tories are in turmoil and they know their time is up. They are deeply divided and desperately trying to cling to power.
“The people have lost trust in them and are fed up with years of austerity, cuts and falling wages.
“At their conference, they will be arguing among themselves, deepening the crisis in their own party.
“Every day they are in Manchester we will be there, exposing massive opposition to their polices,” he said.
Communist Party leader Rob Griffi ths said: “Fewer and fewer people are fooled by the Prime Minister’s rhetoric around free markets and free enterprise.
“Millions of people across Britain are demanding public investment and public ownership instead of big business, privatisation and austerity.”
Speakers at Sunday’s rally include Corrie star Julie Hesmondhalgh, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.
The Take Back Manchester festival runs until Wednesday and features meetings on a range of topics, with the full programme available at thepeoplesassembly.org.uk.