On Sunday 1st October, around 50,000 protesters marched in Manchester to demonstrate against the Conservative Party conference, scheduled to begin today, under the banner “Tories Out! No More Austerity!”.
Called by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and supported by a range of trade unions, the protest denounced years of vicious austerity under the increasingly unstable governance of the Tories. Slogans included: “scrap the pay cap” and “decent health, homes, jobs and education” for all.
The protest called for the end to Tory rule and their programme of austerity, which has seen brutal attacks on public services working conditions and living standards. It is clear that these Tory attacks have radicalised working people and youth and sent them onto the streets.
The Marxist Student Federation was present on the protest with around 20 comrades from the Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds Marxist societies.
As well as rallies book-ending the march, the organisers also held a series of events and discussions over the weekend as part of “Take Back Manchester” to coincide with the Tory conference, with prominent figures from the Labour Party, the unions and the Left speaking.
There was an energetic atmosphere at the protest, which was well attended by young and old alike. Young people who are feeling the brunt of austerity are becoming newly politicised and starting to mobilise on a large scale, and older generations are becoming revitalised in the current climate.
The demonstration encompassed many of the political issues which have provoked anger in the recent period - the Grenfell disaster; the continuation of racial oppression; and dangers to the climate - uniting them under a working class movement for political and economic change.
The protest coincided with an anti-Brexit demonstration which planned to converge with the People’s Assembly march. While press coverage has conflated the two, the anti-austerity march outweighed the other in strength, and the demands for better jobs, working conditions, housing, education, and public services dominated. It is these issues which resonated louder with the protesters - across Manchester and the wider working class - and these issues which will determine the effects of Brexit upon working people.
Sunday's demonstration also showed the political maturation of the anti-austerity movement. It was not just against austerity policies, but against the Tories as the political representatives of the ruling class of bankers and monopoly corporations. Chants of “Tories Out! Corbyn In!” rang out loudly. The desire among workers and youth for a socialist alternative to austerity was palpable, and the Corbyn-led Labour Party is clearly the vehicle for that desire at the moment.