On Saturday 6 November, whilst world leaders gathered at the COP26 summit, tens-of-thousands of protestors of all ages and backgrounds took to the streets across the UK to demand real action against climate change.
Activists from the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) and the Marxist Student Federation (MSF) joined demonstrations in cities and towns all over the country: from Glasgow to London; from the North East to the South West; from Bristol to Birmingham; and from Cardiff to Cambridge.
See below for a selection of reports and pictures from comrades on these protests.
On all these demos, the Marxist stance was clear: Capitalism is killing the planet. We need to fight for revolution.
Get involved today, and join us in the fight!
The pouring rain and howling wind did not deter over 100,000 people from marching through the streets of Glasgow on Saturday – nor could it dampen the spirits of the Marxist bloc!
Glasgow has been burdened with the closure of roads, schools, museums, shops, workplaces as a result of the COP26 conference, alongside a UN ‘blue zone’ occupying parts of the Clyde river. This has contributed to a mood of anger locally.
City residents had already turned out in thousands to support the Fridays For Future climate strike the day before. And yet many more were drawn to the Global Day of Action on Saturday.
Both demonstrations were joined by thousands of trade unionists and striking workers. Bin collectors and cleansing teams have been picketing all week, demanding fair pay and a rescue package for Glasgow’s crumbling public services.
The mass demonstration instinctively seized upon the connection between the class struggle and the climate struggle, in which it is essential that the working class plays a leading part. Chants of ‘Glasgow Council shame on you’ rang out as we passed the council’s headquarters.
Many also flocked to the city from around the world, demanding serious action on climate change. Days before, for example, Greta Thunberg gave expression to the complete lack of trust that young people feel towards the so-called ‘world leaders’, accusing them of “pretending” to act, with an endless “blah, blah, blah” of false promises.
The solution will not come from within the ‘blue zone’, but from the masses of the global working class and poor, who have the most to lose – and also the most to gain in the struggle.
Under the banner of ‘climate revolution’, dozens of IMT and MSF activists from across Scotland and Britain led calls to expropriate the polluting capitalist class; for workers’ control over a plan of green transition; and for the overthrow of the global capitalist system.
We received cheers and messages of support from fellow marchers and passers-by, distributing hundreds of flyers into eager hands.
The mood of the procession did not falter one bit, with chants and slogans throughout. Breaking through the misty rain, a rainbow appeared over the marchers in Finnieston. As the column halted there, few knew that the delay was caused by the heavy-handed intervention of the police, who were surrounding and kettling activists up ahead.
The overwhelming support of the crowd forced the police to retreat. They could not repress the mood of defiance and indignation arriving at Glasgow Green. Once there, a festival atmosphere took over. Though there was little opportunity to dry off, thousands stayed for the final speeches and live music.
This was one of the largest demonstrations that Glasgow has seen for years; a marker of the real mood in society towards vacuous international summits such as COP26 – and towards the global ruling class that waffles away at them.
The patience amongst ordinary people has begun to run out, as the capitalist system and its political representatives refuse to face up to the climate emergency.
This is a fight for our very future. The urgent task is for workers and youth to arm themselves with revolutionary ideas and methods, in order to successfully carry through this struggle.
On Saturday, dozens of Socialist Appeal activists joined the 20,000-strong demonstration in London, putting forward bold, class-based chants such as: “Sea levels are rising, but so are we. Workers unite for victory!”; “Climate change hurts the poor. What we need is class war!”; and “Planet over profit! Only we can stop it!”
Over 60 comrades and supporters from schools, universities, and workplaces formed a lively and vibrant bloc on the demo, holding up banners and placards demanding revolutionary change – for planning, not profit.
In our slogans and speeches, comrades were loud and clear: Capitalism is killing the planet. Only a socialist planned economy under democratic workers’ control can offer a way forward for humanity.
The capitalist system cannot be reformed or made ‘green’. Rather, this profit-based system is responsible for rapidly destroying the environment, posing a threat to our very existence.
Young people, in particular, are angry and anxious about their future. But no one is presenting a real solution. Even speeches at Saturday’s rally in Trafalgar Square offered little more than vague calls for ‘hope’ and ‘change’, imploring people to ‘come together’, and urging politicians to ‘take action’.
But after a week of fruitless negotiations in Glasgow, it is clear that big business politicians at COP26 cannot provide any genuine solutions. These representatives of capitalism will always put profits before the planet and the lives of ordinary people.
Instead, the ruling class’ failure to tackle the climate crisis only further exposes their inability to deal with any of the dire threats facing humanity – just as they have allowed millions of people to die unnecessarily from the pandemic.
Workers and youth can see past the lies and propaganda of the ruling class, who try to deflect attention with individualistic solutions. But ordinary people know that they are not the ones to blame. Rather, they are correctly pointing their fingers at big business and the major polluting corporations.
Our chants on this demonstration of ‘one solution, revolution!’ therefore resonated with other protestors, with our dynamic bloc gaining in size throughout the march.
It is clear that increasingly large layers of radicalised young and working-class people want to join the fight against the root cause of the climate crisis – the capitalist system.
This was reflected in the interest shown towards our paper, with its frontpage headline calling on activists to ‘fight for revolution’; and by the many conversations we had with other demo attendees, who were keen to hear more about the ideas of Marxism, and to join a revolutionary organisation.
Only through class struggle, with the aim of overthrowing the capitalist system, can we stop climate change and fight for our future.
Over 1000 people attended the COP26 protest in Birmingham, including dozens of Socialist Appeal activists from the city and the West Midlands, including Coventry, Warwick, and Leamington
The general mood amongst those on the demonstration was one of anger and scepticism towards world leaders for their failure to act.
Workers and youth are desperately looking for a genuine solution and an immediate response. Yet their calls continue to go unanswered by the ruling class, which instead falls back on hollow promises and ‘greenwashing’.
The climate crisis is forcing people to correctly conclude that capitalism is the root of the problem, and that revolutionary change is required to prevent catastrophe.
This is why our slogans on the demo, of ‘one solution – revolution!’, were received so positively. As comrades also chanted: ‘Climate change will leave us dead – if you wanna be green, you gotta be red!’
Several Socialist Appeal comrades joined the climate demo in Cambridge, which had been widely advertised by the local trades council and all the trade unions, especially Unite and Unison.
The protest saw over 1000 people in attendance, with large numbers of young people in particular.
The march started on Kings Parade, and headed towards Parkers Piece, where the final rally was held.
From our conversations with other protestors, it is clear that people are looking for genuine solutions, not simply ‘raising awareness’.
Unfortunately, there is no real perspective coming from the leaders of the movement, with speakers at the Cambridge demo limiting their demands to things like a carbon tax and the insulation of houses; and even calling on the Tories – this government of the rich – to do something.
In this respect, our demands to confront this crisis by breaking with the capitalist system – through nationalisation, workers’ control, and a rational plan of production – were well received.
The large turnout and lively atmosphere of this protest is an indication of the mood amongst the working class, who are looking to come out onto streets to display their anger against the status quo.
It is clear that the ideas of Marxism can find a powerful echo in these conditions.
The demonstration in Sheffield saw around 500 protesters attending, including activists from Extinction Rebellion and the Labour Party.
The Socialist Appeal bloc was prominent, with red flags, banners, a megaphone, and bold, radical chants. This attracted young people to join us on the march.
Our slogans resonated with other activists on the demo. These included: ‘Students and workers, unite and fight!’; ‘Climate crisis is a war, by the rich against the poor’; ‘The climate emergency, was caused by the bourgeoisie. If we want to stop it now, we have to bring the system down’.
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Comrades in Bristol set up at College Green early on, positioned to catch protesters coming along Park Street.
The rally built up slowly to around five thousand in total, with activists from across the labour movement. Notably, there were a number of trade union banners on the march: from NEU, UCU, Unison, Unite, and the RMT. Added to this were students from the Bristol Marxist society.
There were some speakers from the Green Party and the city council, but noticeably they didn’t mention system change, or capitalism, or socialism.
This was in stark contrast to the banner produced by Socialist Appeal supporters, which attracted much attention with its bold slogan: Capitalism Kills.
Socialist Appeal supporters in Cornwall attended the COP26 demonstration in Truro last Saturday afternoon.
Around 600 people assembled for a march to the local council building, and to hear speeches from local campaigners.
Alex Falconer, a Socialist Appeal activist, was one of those on the megaphone. Alex pointed the finger squarely at capitalism for the climate catastrophe; and he called for the super-rich to be expropriated to pay for this crisis.