On Saturday 30 October around 200 people demonstrated against the closure of five (out of 12) Lewisham libraries. The turn out was good and the response from passers by was positive. However the demonstration also exposed the fault lines in the anti-cuts campaigns.
Two Labour MPs and one local Labour councillor were the only speakers at the opening rally. This caused some anger on the demonstration. AWL members and others started a chant of “vote no to the cuts” when the councillor was speaking. Unfortunately the Socialist Party and the local campaign People Before Profit shouted over this with the politically confused cry of “Labour out”, raising the completely unanswerable question of who is going to replace an ousted Labour Party!
Meanwhile the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) apparently wanted the organisers to try to stop all chanting! These are the same SWP members who recently tried to move a motion for a one-day general strike at Lewisham Trades’ Council. So, the mood is right for a general strike, but not to criticise Labour councillors for voting through the cuts!
The SWP spent the rest of the time trying to give the impression that the anti-cuts movement in Lewisham was entirely channeled through their front organisation Right to Work.
In reality, Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance (LACA), which is supported by the Trades Council, PCS and NUT, among others, has done most work on the ground and has united most activists.
• LACA has called a lobby of Lewisham Council on Wednesday 17 November at 5.15pm. This is when the Council will vote on the budget cuts.
There was standing room only in Norwich City Hall’s council chamber on 1 November as local campaigners, trade unionists, service-users and members of the public heard Ian Gibson, former Labour MP, summon up the spirit of Robert Kett in the struggle against the Coalition’s drive to recreate Austerity Britain.
Kett’s East Anglian rebellion against enclosures went down to defeat, but there was no doubting the defiant mood among Ian Gibson’s audience. A regional officer for PCS outlined his union’s push within the TUC to bring forward the planned date of next March’s demonstration against the cuts. He said, the PCS would if neceesary approach other unions independently to get a national demonstration before Christmas.
The meeting heard about the likely effects of Norfolk County Council’s e £155 million worth of cuts.
Several members of the deaf community spoke powerfully about the way cuts to their support-services would affect their lives.
A number of speakers from the floor urged the calling of a general strike. But the key problem for activists is how to build opposition to each individual cutback into a generalised push for concerted and co-ordinated nationwide industrial action. The next step in the campaign is a march in Norwich on 4 December.
• For more information call Pat on 07876 663 659 or see www.norfolkcoalitionagainstcuts.org
1,000 out on 30 October. Delegations from most local unions including Unison and PCS, GMB who won a bin strike last year, RMT. Also there the “Save Bright Start nursery” campaign: a council nursery threatened with closure — and workers from the Connexions service also under threat.
At the last Notts Trades Council meeting the SWP came with a last minute motion via Ashfield Unison branch which called for support for the TUC demo in March and also the TUC to call a general strike .
I put amendments to both points so that the motion would call for the TUC to bring demo forward and commit the Trades Council to launch local campaign building towards a general strike. Calling on the TUC to call a general strike isn't generally how general strikes happenwe needed to commit the trades council to doing something.
The SWP opposed both amendments but only spoke against the first on the ground that we couldn't expect the TUC to pull such a demo off in short time! I pointed out the contradiction between this position and calling on them to organise a general strike.
A demonstration outside the Town Hall organised by RTW/SWP on 30 October. There was a contingent of students who marched down to meet it. 2-300 in total. Unfortunately the demonstration was a bit uneventful...
About 300-400 out on 30 October. Called by York Stop the Cuts — Right to Work Campaign. Pretty broad and has affiliated to both Coalition of Resistance and Right to Work. It is mostly run by the left activist community of York. Lots of trade unionists are involved, but it doesn’t have much of a union focus.