Panel Address Packed Room
On Tuesday 12 May, Manchester Peoples' Assembly was due to hold its monthly meeting. We had planned that this would be an opportunity to activists to discuss the outcome of the General Election. But with the shock election of a majority Tory government. Despair quickly turned to anger.
Instead of our normal small room we had to book the big hall at Methodist Central Hall. On the night both floors of this huge venue were filled with up to 500 people discussing what we could do.
A broad panel of speakers addressed different aspects of the electoral outcome. All spoke of their anger and fear for what a Tory government would do. They also brought their insights into what we should campaign for. Laura Bannister, a Green Party candidate in Gorton South spoke of the need for unity, but also a change in the electoral process. Tom Evans, a Councillor, spoke in a personal capacity about the need to get organised. “Change doesn't come from electing people like me, but from ordinary people like you” he told the room.
Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh was pleased to speak at the assembly. You can watch her speech. She spoke about the need for Labour to relate to millions of ordinary people, not the bankers and big business, as well as her anger at the Blairites who have come out since the election to try and turn Labour to the right.
Annette Wright brought greetings from Manchester Trades Council, urging the trade union movement to link with the anti-austerity movement. She pointed out that many people had had different ideas about what the left should do in the election, who to vote for, or how to campaign, but that we need to unite in the face of the Tory attacks and work together.
Sam Fairbain, the National Secretary of the People's Assembly, spoke about the importance of the national protest on Saturday 20 June. Coaches are coming from across the country, and this is likely to be the biggest demonstration in years. He told how spontaneous protests had already taken place, and to audience laughter, said the Daily Mail had warned that anarchists were preparing a summer of protest and disruption. As Sam pointed out, its a sign that you are doing something right if the Daily Mail is concerned.
Sam explained how the demonstration could be a springboard for further action inspiring people who want to organise and fight back. Contributions from the floor backed this up, with many different suggestions. One of the most passionate was Maria, a Bedroom Tax campaigner who said how she had hoped to be celebrating the end of the Tax, but was now seeing it extended to a further million.
To cheers, she urged the panel and the meeting to make the Bedroom Tax the number one priority for their campaigns.
The beginning and end of the event was notable for the intense activity as people took leaflets, discussed action and booked on transport for June 20th.
If you didn't get a chance to sign up for the coach or you want our newsletter to hear about future actions email us firstname.lastname@example.org or book on-line here
Other activity supported includes:
A Keep Our NHS Public protest on May 30
Manchester Anti-Austerity protest on Saturday 23 May, 12pm Piccadilly Gardens.