People’s Assembly Against Austerity: Report From Our Delegate

Delegates from Goldsmiths joined with over 4000 other people to attend the first national meeting of the People’s Assembly against Austerity in Central Hall, Westminster on Saturday 22nd June. It was a fantastic atmosphere of unity and determination to escalate and coordinate the opposition to cuts that are devastating communities, weakening public services and impoverishing growing numbers of people. The message was clear: we don’t want a few cuts or cuts in some places; we don’t want any cuts. The government’s austerity programme is ‘unjust, immoral and undemocratic’.

The opening rally heard from speakers including Frances O’Grady (TUC General Secretary), Owen Jones and Mark Steel. The Assembly then broke into workshops that discussed, for example, how to defend the NHS and public education, how to turn the tide on racism and anti-immigration discourses, what kind of tactics do we need in the anti-austerity movement, and how we can organise local People’s Assemblies. The final rally heard from a range of speakers including several union general secretaries who spoke of the need for militant action to break the government’s austerity agenda. One of the most powerful speeches about the impact of the cuts was from the comedian Francesca Martinez.

The Assembly adopted a statement that includes support for a national demonstration to defend the NHS outside Conservative Party conference on 29 September 2013 and for a national day of civil disobedience and direct action against austerity on November 5th. You can read the full statement at http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/draft-statement/.

It was the biggest single political meeting that I have ever been to and let’s hope that it marks the beginning of a genuine diverse, inclusive and powerful movement against austerity.

Dr Des Freedman
Reader in Communications and Cultural Studies
Secretary, Goldsmiths UCU

Build the People’s Assembly in South London: Thurs May 16, 6:30pm, RHB137

people's assembly

Build the People’s Assembly in South London
Thurs May 16, 6:30pm
RHB137, Goldsmiths College

Speakers include:
Andrew McGettigan
Romayne Phoenix
Aaron Kieley (NUS)

At the end of February this year, a letter signed by many prominent trade unionists, activists and campaigners made the following statement:

This is a call to all those millions of people in Britain who face an impoverished and uncertain year as their wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision come under renewed attack by the government. With some 80% of austerity measures still to come, and with the government lengthening the time they expect cuts to last, we are calling a People’s Assembly Against Austerity to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice. We aim to develop a strategy for resistance to mobilise millions of people against the Con Dem government.

The assembly will provide a national forum for anti-austerity views which, while increasingly popular, are barely represented in parliament. A People’s Assembly can play a key role in ensuring that this uncaring government faces a movement of opposition broad enough and powerful enough to generate successful co-ordinated action, including strike action. The assembly will be ready to support co-ordinated industrial action and national demonstrations against austerity, if possible synchronising with mobilisations across Europe. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will meet at Central Hall, Westminster, on 22 June.

For more information on the assembly visit http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

To build the assembly in South London, there will be a meeting in RHB137 on Thursday the 16th of May at 6:30pm. Speakers include Andrew McGettigan, who will be talking about his new book on what market forces are doing to Higher Education.