HALF A MILLION MARCH
Half a million people took to the streets of the capital on Saturday 26th March and the red flag flew beneath Big Ben.
Although pleasing, a far better sight would have been to see the hammer and sickle flying above Big Ben!
Now the question must be "So, what's next?" Many of those attending the demonstration will now expect the TUC to lead further actions against the cuts but, if history is anything to go by, they are likely to be disappointed.
In Furness, the work of the Furness Against the Cuts steering group has begun and further attempts are being made to encourage people, either as individuals or as representatives of unions, community groups or voluntary organisations to join the campaign. Indeed, any person or organisation that is without prejudice towards age, gender, sexual orientation, race, colour or religion and sharing the aim to resist government-imposed cuts will be made welcome.
In a previous posting it was noted leaders and members of local unions, community groups and voluntary organisations (with the exception of Barrow & Furness Pensioners' Association) had never in the past twelve months shown the slightest interest in mounting a campaign against the cuts. However, once the local newspaper, the North West Evening Mail, began to feature the national demonstration the various 'leaders' crept out of the woodwork to mouth off and get their mugshots published.
Bob Pointer, 'secretary' of the defunct Barrow TUC wrote a letter describing how important it was for ordinary people to resist the cuts blah, blah, blah. Alec Proffitt, Unison Barrow Branch official, Pauline Charnley (Four Groves Community Association), Anne Carruthers (Barrow Island Community 'Activist') and Margaret Burrows (Furness Disability Association) each stuck their oars in for a nice piece of personal publicity. The only person missing was Steven Forbes of the GMB who has been very quiet of late - well, quieter than usual: silent.
This blog has been described (by some) as being 'snarky' which I believe is street-speak for 'sneering and sarcastic'. Surely, this is not the way a communist ought to behave if the aim is to encourage people to unite against their oppressors. To a certain extent, they have a point. It would be a joy to report how local organisations - unions in particular - were leading the anti-cuts campaign with all-inclusive rallies and demonstrations in the town centre once a month and how they'd organised coaches to take local people to the 26th March TUC event but none of this happened. Those who have access to campaign resources have sat on their hands and, until very recently, kept their mouths tightly shut. So what would be the point in pretending in this blog that they are genuinely concerned about the people of this area and taking action against the cuts when they have done precisely nothing? Don't they deserve criticism?
But Unison did organise a coach for the London demo! True, this union which had done nothing all year did in fact organise a coach - for Unison members only. So a non-campaigning union took non-campaigning members to a national campaign. Bravo! And a jolly time was had by all, no doubt. It's reminiscent of a union day trip to Blackpool but without the buckets and spades.
As shown above, trade union 'tribalism' is alive and well here in Furness. The instruction was that the anti-cuts campaign should be union-led. But what do people do if the unions are incapable of providing that leadership? If I had waited for my union (NUT) to instigate anything at all in the last thirty years I'd be fossilised by now. The teaching assistants who recently held their rally and petition in the town centre were Unison members who had been promised pamphlets, posters, banners and flags - but received none of these things. One of the organisers bitterly remarked that Unison would see a significant dip in union subscriptions next year!
So, the next few months might be interesting.....or not. Whatever the situation, this blog will continue to report the situation as it really is and not as some would pretend it to be. And useless hoosegow-head (nothing gets in and nothing comes out) hypocrites deserving of criticism will indeed receive it.
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