Saturday, 11 December 2010

A radical message on a pedestrian march

It seems that long, busy Saturdays are becoming par for the course. Indeed, in the wake of the government's austerity measures there may be very few days when there isn't something going on. So it was that I found myself up at six am and out the door at seven.

For the third week on the bounce, I spent the morning on a picket line. This post by the Liverpool Solidarity Federation explains the issues behind the picket, so that I don't have to repeat myself here. Indeed, the only thing to add this week is that there were less scabs. I'd like to think it was down to office closures providing a wake-up call as to the implications of their actions, but given the selfish and short-sighted nature of such people it's sadly more likely that they needed to get the Christmas shopping in.

Anyway, this week my stint as a picket was once again followed up with a trip into the City Centre. However, thankfully, this time it didn't involve a face-off with the goons of the BNP.

The Merseyside Public Sector Alliance - ostensibly, an initiative of the local TUC - had called a march and rally against the cuts. It was never set to be a radical venture. Indeed, from the off it was most likely to highlight the difference between the student movement and the workers' movement, and why the former had put the latter to shame.

Nonetheless, it at least provided an opportunity to interact with workers, trade unionists, students, and others affected by austerity and looking to fight back. Most importantly, getting across that we don't just have to follow our official leadership as they march us up to the top of the hill and the march us down again. There is another way, and even a better way. The point remains that we need to build on the momentum of the last few weeks rather than let bureaucrats drag us back into old routines.

So, yes, the march was what we expected. Walk from point A to point B, listen to speakers pour out rhetoric, disperse. But there was a good atmosphere, and a lot of people open to the idea of a working class movement built and led from below.

Also welcome was the fact that, in amongst the usual chorus of trade union leaders with empty promises, one of the speakers was a 17-year-old girl from a working class neighbourhood in Kirkby. I made a point of finding her and congratulating her afterwards. Every sign of class consciousness and political awareness amongst young people is to be welcomed. Along with the youth on Thursday who declared themselves from the slums of london, she offered overt proof that those affected most by education cuts - the poor - are those at the forefront of the struggle. It's not, as detractors allege, a movement led by the privileged demanding a free ride.

This was not a revolutionary moment, or even a chance for a riot. It certainly didn't compare to events on Thursday. In the end, what we got from this was a chance to engage with people and argue our case. We got to meet new comrades and engage in lively debate in the pub afterwards.

Meanwhile, the rank-and-file of the workers' movement got to see just what a lame duck their leadership is. And, yet again, the libertarian left were out offering an alternative.