To make an impact, you have to stay. So under the slogan ‘Take Back Manchester’, the People’s Assembly contested the Tories’ right to have the city to themselves and make all the news.
The PA campaign from Friday 2 to Wednesday 7 October covered the whole time (and longer) of the Tory annual conference. A socialist choir and a flash mob ‘welcomed’ the party’s delegates at the station, where a activists pointed out that Manchester has no Conservative MPs or councillors (see video). Why had they picked this city?
As the week went on, hundreds of demonstrators, including a few of us from York, were still taking part, for instance in a No to TTIP protest and a no-fees student march.
On the Monday night, people were seen running to Manchester Cathedral. The draw? Jeremy Corbyn, amongst others, was to address a rally about saving ‘The People’s Post’. The Cathedral was soon full but the union organisers had arranged an open air overflow rally. It was attended by 7000, mainly locals, who heard the same speakers as inside and welcomed the Labour leader with a deafening roar.
Two more particular events: demonstrators showed their anger at the creeping privatisation of the NHS in a march to the conference centre. Chants of ‘Save Our NHS!’ and the noise of hooters, sound systems and even a conch shell(!) made us difficult to ignore.
And Iain Duncan Smith’s hated welfare policies came under attack from Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), who carried placards saying, ‘IDS – Murderer’. DPAC also blocked one of the few vehicle entrances to the conference centre before Cameron made his big speech.
There’s no room to list all 34 events in this Week of Action. In addition to the above, there were protests such as ‘Refugees Welcome Here’, ‘Don’t Bomb Syria’ and ‘No to Fracking’; meetings like ‘Paris and Beyond’ (climate change) and ‘Faith and Communities Against Austerity’, not to mention parties, gigs, briefings and Q and A’s.
If you feel you missed out, you could catch up by watching, ‘Pots, Pans and Other Solutions’. It’s on YouTube and reports experiments in democracy by Icelanders after the 2008 crash, including candidates for MP chosen at random.
For the big event, the national demonstration, see ‘Massive TUC demo hits Manchester’. Thanks to group member Hazel for writing both reports.