The People’s Assembly Against Austerity on the 22 June, initiated by the Coalition of Resistance, is becoming the main focus for every local and national campaign against cuts and in defence of the welfare state and the NHS in particular. The Assembly will be a conference of the movement bringing together local struggles (e.g. Lewisham hospital, Barnet Easyjet council, Newcastle arts cuts), campaigns such as DPAC and KONP, and trade unions.
The appeal for the Assembly, originally published in the Guardian on the 5 February, is gaining broad support with over 2,500 signatures. Backers include Wendy Savage of Keep Our NHS Public, Ken Loach, Caroline Lucas MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Merry Cross of Disabled People Against Cuts, but also the general secretaries of most trade-unions!
The aim of the Assembly is to provide a national focus for all the local campaigns and struggles that are taking place against austerity. The ConDem government is continuing and intensifying its national attacks such as those on the NHS, public services and welfare benefits, we must therefore respond with a national movement of resistance. To be useful, the Assembly will need not just to declare its opposition to austerity, but to help unite the movement and plan for national demonstrations and days of action to roll back the government’s attacks.
The Assembly now needs built from the ground upwards, getting local anti-cuts campaigns and union branches to back the event, and organising broad-based local meetings, or local “People’s Assemblies”. The Assembly seems to be meeting a real need: with just four months to go, over 225 people have already registered, that’s 10% of the capacity of Central Hall Westminster! Coverage is building up in the mass media which should widen the appeal. Owen Jones has written an article for the Sunday People and Mark Steel’s article in the Independent has attracted hundreds of supportive comments.
Everyone should be circulating the new leaflet, signing the appeal, placing the model motion on the agenda of a meeting of a union branch, trades council, local anti-cuts committee or community organisation. To add your name, or that of an organisation, download the model motion, or to register for the event, just go to the Coalition of Resistance website.
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity should be a militant and activist event which can help unite and put the movement against austerity “back on the tracks” for mass action against the ConDem government. Half-way through its term of office, the ConDem government is weak and vulnerable as more and more people no longer believe that austerity is working and are angry that their living standards are slashed, public services closed and the NHS privatised. The People’s Assembly can help by showing that there is an alternative that is worth fighting for.
For more information, go to http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/