This is the largest anti-cuts meeting ever held in King’s Lynn, and what is more it was the most determined.
The beautiful medieval St Nicholas Chapel in King’s Lynn was the setting for the first Fenland People’s Assembly on Saturday. The Fenland People’s Assembly was the brainchild of the King’s Lynn and District Trades Council, who worked hard to build the meeting, distributing 6,000 leaflets all over the town. Originally, they had planned a ‘Save the NHS’ rally for September 28th, but this changed after seven people from the area attended the People’s Assembly in London in June and brought some of that excitement back to the Trades Council. ‘Save the NHS’ remained a key theme for the meeting since several of the speakers worked or had worked for the NHS, all of them referred to it – and so did our red balloons!
Between 75 and 100 people turned up to hear an impressive line up of speakers including Owen Jones, the campaigning author of Chavs. “Hearing him speak gives me goose bumps’, admitted Darren Barber, the secretary of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital union branch, and himself one of the other speakers. Richard Murphy, the founder of the Tax Justice Network, told the audience what we very much wanted to hear about the tax avoidance of the rich. Other speakers included Rita Young, Chair of the Peterborough Pensioners Association, to Michael Berry, a 17 year old Youth Officer and included representatives of the GMB, Unison and campaigns for the disabled and against welfare reform. Mary Cooke, who had worked as a SRN in the NHS for 37 years, could explain the differences between how it was when she started and now!
This is the largest anti-cuts meeting ever held in King’s Lynn, and what is more it was the most determined. Even as they arrived, people were taking our slips for the next meeting, an organising meeting to be held at 7.30 p.m. on 9th October at the Friends Meeting House, King’s Lynn. Some of the audience had come from Wisbech, Peterborough and Spalding and there are plans to firm up the links with these towns to make the Fenland People’s Assembly truly Fenland wide and to have meetings in other towns. The audience ranged from pensioners to teenagers, all equally angry and keen for a fightback. The optimism of Owen Jones and other speakers inspired many to get up and have their say too. The rally was planned to encourage people to join the coach booked by the Trades Council for the Manchester demo outside the Tory Conference – but it had no seats left!
The excellent John Preston Tribute Band played their own material, including the songs Ruling Class and FukT which were very fitting messages. They also played No Incinerator, since they have been campaigning, together with most of the area over the past three years, against the plans to build a mass burn incinerator close to King’s Lynn.
King’s Lynn has been heavily hit by the cuts, by unemployment, and there has been a feeling of despondency about whether fighting back really changed anything. This afternoon’s rally really made people feel that they could make a difference!
Photo: Tom Pearce