We present the programme of the demonstration against austerity held in Market Square today by the Cambridge People's Assembly and other groups, followed by the text of the introductory speech and that of a message from the Labour Member of Parliament for Cambridge.
Cambridge March Against Austerity
Saturday 30 May 2015, 12 for 12.30 p.m.
Market Square, Cambridge
- Neil Kirkham (Cambridge People's Assembly)
- Chris McCabe (Cambridge Disabled People Against Cuts)
- Oscar Gillespie (Cambridge Green Party)
- Owen Holland (Cambridge Left Unity)
- Margaret Ridley (Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public)
- Luke Warner (Cambridge Universities Labour Club)
- Kevin Chang (Cambridge Marxist Society)
Market Hill, Market St, Sidney St, St John's St, Trinity St, St Mary's St, Market Hill
- A message from Daniel Zeichner MP (Cambridge Labour Party) read with an afterword by Steve Sweeney (Cambridge People's Assembly)
- Paula Champion (Cambridgeshire National Union of Teachers) on privatization and baseline testing in children's education
- Tom Woodcock (Cambridge and District Trades Council) on defending immigrants
- John Marais (Defend Council Housing) on the housing crisis
- Ozzy Osborne (South Cambridge GEMS Unite the Union) on zero-hours contracts
- Liz Brennan (Cambridge City UNISON) on privatization at Cambridge Central Library
Thank you all for coming today. My name's Neil and I'm the secretary of the Cambridge People's Assembly Against Austerity. If you don't know us, we're first of all a solidarity organization. We aim to support as best we can everyone organizing to defend and counter the Conservatives' austerity attacks. These are attacks on public services: on the NHS and social care, on mental health care, on education, on libraries. They're attacks on the welfare system, which represented a step towards a real acceptance that 'we're all in this together.' And now they're attacks on what remains of workers' freedom to organize to secure their needs and desires.
This month's election returned the Conservatives to power alone. Coalition government didn't much restrain the Tories, but now we're going to see three years of the deepest cuts yet in pursuit of the audacious promise to clear the deficit by 2018. And because George Osborne's strategy for the party is that of divide and rule, these cuts are going to fall hardest on the same people – the same scapegoats – who suffered most in the first round: those of us who are unemployed, who are disabled, who are immigrants.
A task in front of us is to work out how to respond to the new, and retrospective, electoral mandate for austerity: do we aim to overturn it, or do we aim to overwrite it with a different kind of democratic authority? But today in Cambridge and in the streets of other cities, on Saturday 20 June in the streets of London, we're announcing that the fight against austerity is going to continue – and where.
A message of solidarity
Today I bring a message of solidarity in the fight against cuts, to Cambridge people struggling to get on in life, and especially to our fantastic public sector workers.
In Cambridge we can all see the effects of government policy first hand: Addenbrooke's hitting the headlines for being on 'black alert',* an explosion in exploitative zero-hour contracts, and the threat to privatize the third floor of the Central Library where we held a protest yesterday.
In the Queen's Speech the Conservative government said they are on the side of working people. But in the next breath they threatened the rights of trade unionists. The government tells us they want to raise standards in schools, in hospitals, and in community care. But we all know you cannot drive up standards by driving down wages. Meanwhile the government allows free rein to bankers' bonuses and cut taxes for millionaires and hedge funds.
As your MP I will stand up for those living on low pay and in poverty, as by fighting for the Living Wage which the Labour City Council has introduced, and always make the case for decent jobs, stronger communities, and excellent public services.
Daniel Zeichner MP
* The highest hospital capacity alert.