Home > Uncategorized > Eastbourne People’s Assembly rises to slay the dragon of austerity!

Eastbourne People’s Assembly rises to slay the dragon of austerity!

I’m very pleased to welcome Carol Mills as a guest to this blog with this piece of hers below about the London Anti-Austerity March that took place on 20th June 2015. I was enormously proud to be on the march myself, alongside Carol and quite a few other people from Eastbourne. As a result of that march moves have begun to start an Eastbourne branch of The People’s Assembly, and Carol has been instrumental in those moves, showing great initiative and determination to get such a worthy enterprise off the ground. So here’s Carol to explain things more:

Eastbourne presence at the London Anti-Austerity March 20th June 2015

by Carol Mills

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Last Saturday local Eastbourne groups united together in order to have a presence at the London Anti-Austerity March. Local groups included members from:  Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, 38 degrees Eastbourne, Transition Town Eastbourne, The Eastbourne Labour Party, Eastbourne Green Party and Eastbourne Community Energy. The march was organised by The People’s Assembly which was formed in 2013. The People’s Assembly is a non-party political, broad united national campaign against austerity, cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services. It provides a national forum for anti-austerity views.

The march started with a rally in the City of London, the financial capital of the world, outside the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange. The march snaked its way through the centre of London setting off from the City on to Fleet Street, passed the Royal Courts of Justice and onward passed Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall, passed Downing Street and finishing up in Parliament Square. The organisers estimated over 250,000 people attended. There was a full programme of speakers including Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader), Jeremy Corbyn (Labour Party Leadership Candidate), Journalist Owen Jones, Caroline Lucas (Green Party MP), Martin McGuiness (Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland); Len McCluskey (General Secretary of Unite) and celebrities Charlotte Church, Russell Brand, Juliet Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Cropper off Coronation Street) and many more.

This was a peaceful march with the police stating there were no arrests. The day saw a collaboration of people from across the nation, travelling from all parts of the country and from Scotland, Ireland and wales. They represented a broad array of diverse groups including:- Housing activists E15 mums; NHS campaigners; the CND; Stop the War Coalition; Unionist and public sector workers eg Unite, Unison, CWU, PCS & the NUT; various political parties; disabled groups eg Disabled Peoples Against the Cuts; youth groups eg Youth Fight For Jobs; lawyers and many more. There were young people, families, older people, Black, White and Asian and people from many religions.

The people spoke with one voice. The marchers called out vibrantly with drumming, whistles, saxophones and chants voicing their rejection of the cuts and austerity measures. Owen Jones spoke out against corporate tax avoiders; Caroline Lucus said ‘austerity isn’t working, it is dividing our country, it is punishing the poor’. Charlotte Church branded austerity as ‘unethical, unfair and unnecessary’. Jeremy Corbyn gave a rousing speech, ‘it’s possible to have a different world’ ‘1 million people in Britain use food banks regularly and we are the 4th richest country in the world. Is that necessary? Is that right? The social media was buzzing with messages and images from the march.

One of the organisers, John Rees from the People’s Assembly against the Cuts, urged people to start local action groups and join in with future national actions.It’s only a beginning; we can’t win with only one demonstration’. Owen Jones said the march was a launch pad for people to organise in their communities and stand for a ‘politics of hope’. Meanwhile, back home, there are many people affected by austerity living here in Eastbourne. There are people relying on food banks. There are homeless people. There are people affected by the bedroom tax. There are people affected by cuts to the services they rely on. There are people needing to choose between either eating or being cold in the winter. There are unemployed people. There are people working on zero contract hours or working fulltime on a minimum wage who need to claim benefits in order to make ends meet. There are young adults still living with their parents as they cannot afford the rents. So, are there people in Eastbourne who would like to see an end to austerity? Are there people in Eastbourne who would like to see a local People’s Assembly?

NB Since writing this article (for the Eastbourne Herald), a group of us have begun the first steps towards forming The Eastbourne People’s Assembly. We have now a Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/890376414357498/

We will shortly be sending out formal invitations to all interested organisations and individuals.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 4, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Before criticizing, I must make it clear that I agree wholeheartedly with the aims of the anti-austerity movement. It is jus that I am distressed by a serious weakness.

    Iain Duncan Smith is winning the ‘hearts and minds’ argument with anyone not directly hurt by austerity measures because they think scroungers are a problem. They aren’t, but people think they are because means testing IS a work disincentive.
    There are two ways of getting rid of the work disincentive, which is also the ‘poverty trap’: IDS’s way – get rid of benefits, or a Basic Income – give benefits to everyone, and take it as necessary via taxation.
    It distresses me that even the Green Party speakers you mention do not understand their own policy, but all the demo said to the general public is “Give us back the scroungers’ Charter IDS is trying to get rid of”. Completely unfair, but please look at my blog
    Clive Lord
    Founder member of the Green Party

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