- Wednesday, 10 October 2012
- Written by Darrall Cozens (UCU, Coventry TUC and Coventry NWCLP)
The conference itself was inaccessible, surrounded by 9-foot high steel sheeting and hundreds of police, so we were allowed to briefly step onto Broad Street itself before being ushered down Gas Street to make our way under canals and flyovers back to Victoria Square in front of the Council House which we had left just over an hour earlier.
Many trade unions had sent delegations – Unite, PCS, Unison, GMB, BFAWU, NUT, UCU, FBU, UCATT and the Musicians Union – and their banners and balloons billowed in the slight breeze. There was even a Labour Party banner from Birmingham. The marchers were in jovial spirits but determined to let their voices be heard. And at the rally at the end of the march the voices of trade union elected leaders were heard.
All of the speakers passionately denounced the attacks on working class living standards while the bosses and the bankers pocketed vast sums in pay and bonuses. It was certainly true that we, that is working class people, were all in this together in suffering this assault on the meagre reforms that we had won through decades of struggle. And this is only the beginning. Far more cuts are on their way and this period of austerity – that is for the working class – is predicted to last for at least another decade.
Each speaker promised more strikes, marches and demonstrations and issued an appeal to all there to heed the call of the TUC and get down to London on October 20th to fill the capital with voices that oppose the plans of the government.
But there was also a realisation among some of the speakers, especially Matt Wrack of the FBU, that we need more than strikes and marches. We also need a political programme so that we have something to fight for and not just be against austerity. And the beginnings of that programme was the call for the nationalisation of the banks and finance houses under democratic control, a demand that had been passed in Motion 27 at the TUC conference early in September, a motion moved by Matt Wrack of the FBU.
The Labour Party also came in for some stick. Speakers condemned statements by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband that the wage freeze for public sector workers would continue when Labour wins the next election. They demanded that the LP goes back to its roots and defends the interests of the class in society whose industrial organisations, the trade unions, created the LP.
Our next stop will be London on October 20th. Up and down the country plans are well in motion to ensure a massive turnout on the day with trains and coaches descending on the capital. We will march in our tens of thousands to voice our opposition to the government’s attacks on our living standards. But we will also demand that Labour fights for a programme to defend its core supporters, the working class.We will demand a programme to put an end to the misery of capitalism, beginning with the nationalisation of the banks. The banner headline on the October Socialist Appeal - Nationalise The Banks – expresses the essence of a real alternative to the crisis of capitalism. That would be the beginnings of a real future that works.