Saturday, 23 October 2010

Class grumblings

I'm currently at Northern College, Barnsley, on a residential trade union education course. As a brief interlude to this, today I travelled to Sheffield to take part in the nation-wide anti-cuts demontrations organised by the trade unions.

The event had its downfalls, and there were mixed messages from the speakers there. But, broadly, I have to say it made me less cynical than I was on the day of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

This wasn't because of the broader left, who were still offering the same stale, quasi-radical message as ever. It wasn't because of the event organisers, who had Labour speakers on the platform to attack the Lib Dems. It certainly wasn't due to the TUC, who can't have a national demo until March, when it will be too late to deal with the present attacks.

It was because of members of the public and rank-and-file trade unionists. There were 1,500 people on the march and demo here, similar turnouts at other demos, and 20,000 in Edinburgh. People are worried about the present situation and, even if they might not know what, willing to do something about it.

More than that, it was because you soon realise by talking to people that the anarchist movement is not singing a tune that nobody else will dance to.

They know that Labour are another ruling class party who will lead the working class up a dead end road in the name of electoral success. They know that an effective campaign must be bottom-up and led from the grassroots. And they know that static protests and petitioning will not get us anywhere.

The trick now is to tap into that feeling and offer a genuinely radical alternative. This will not be easy. But we need to know that there is a potentially receptive audience out there.
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