Ten Reasons to March

This Saturday, the largest march since the protest against the Iraq war in 2003 is planned for central London. There’s loads going on, from a traditional march to sit-ins, sleep-outs and all sorts of other direct action. From the substance of the coalition cuts to spiting the pathetic union leadership, here are my ten reasons why you should take to the streets and reclaim some semblance of democratic expression:

1) To refute the Big Lie of the Emergency Budget: there was no emergency. It’s a debate which has quickly become tired, but it is too often ignored by the Labour front bench and is worth repeating again and again. Barry Kushner’s letter seems to be among the best short rebuttals to this.

2) To oppose the cuts agenda, the economic masterplan which (in the words of the mouthpiece of the market) has brought only “rising inflation, lower short-term growth and higher medium-term borrowing

3) To save what remains of the NHS. The so-called ‘reform’ of the National Health Service needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. This can only happen through mass popular protest in concert with the refusal of healthcare professionals to implement changes. The latter is being internally debated by the BMA. We, the marchers, must do the first bit.

4) In defence of our libraries (and culture more generally). Michael Gove just suggested that children should be reading fifty books a year; his colleagues are trying to make that much more difficult (or at least much more expensive). Over to Philip Pullman.

5) To protest the hypocrisy of a government that maintains the lie of being “the greenest ever” while being anything but. Massive investment and stricter regulation are needed to move society onto a more sustainable path. On a related note, to try and hear Caroline Lucas speak somewhere other than the official rally, where she is not allowed to participate.

6) To give the Labour Party a good kick up the backside. Months of prevaricating and painfully obvious positioning for the next election need to stop, and the ‘opposition’ needs to start acting like one. If the protests on the street can outflank the narrow parameters of Westminster debate we may be able to exert some ‘pull’ on the Westminster village, however unlikely it seems.

7) To continue the opposition to the enormous hike in student fees and, more generally, the vandalism of higher education which will see many departments (in subjects without easily measurable financial impact) closed, i.e. humanities. The student movement was the first to take on the coalition and if it can join with the unemployed, underemployed and low-paid then the entire government agenda can be threatened.

8 ) To explode the myth that ‘we’re all in this together’. The cuts are disproportionately hurting lower earners and particularly women. The whole shooting match is a not-very-subtle redistribution of wealth towards the top end. And today’s budget only underlines it – as Robert Peston says, it’s a budget for big business and narrow class interest.

9) In solidarity with the revolutionary movements in the Arab world (and not to forget Iran). We have much to learn from the commitment (in the face of great violence) of the youth of North Africa and the Middle East to genuine change; however much milder our own undemocratic kleptocracy (and yes, I do think this was a coup), we shouldn’t put up with it just because we are not facing tanks and bayonets.

10) To send a message to compliant and craven union leadership. This march should have happened six months ago, but instead the TUC and others let the student movement take the brunt of the first clashes with the coalition government. Now people can march in solidarity with other militants and in spite of the ossified labour bureaucracy. So please march, but don’t allow yourselves to be shepherded by the TUC stewards who are working uncomfortably closely with the police on the day. When it comes to the afternoon, there will be many ways to make your voice heard.

So, ten reasons why I am marching, but even if you are only moved by one or two of these reasons, please join myself and hundreds of thousands of other people under all sorts of banners (or none at all) – we will make an alliance of the alienated, the discontented, the deprived and the dispossessed; that’s David Harvey’s resistance/opposition formula, but I think before long a huge number of people in this country will fall into one of those categories. And if you really can’t go, there’s lots else you can do to help, including joining the Armchair Army.

Thanks for reading. x

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 12:09 am  Comments (6)  

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  1. Ten very good reasons to march. Vis a vis 2), I’m always a bit sceptical about ‘growth’ – the holy grail of market capitalism, which has held us in ideological bondage for too long. Full employment / quality of life / happiness cannot be indexed to growth; at the risk of sounding like a stuck spirit level, I’ll stop there (before metaphors mix even further).

    3 and 7 are very closely linked in my head. Labour gave the green light for the privatising of the NHS. They don’t know what to do now in opposition because they’re finally having to confront their woeful lack of scruples over the last fourteen years.

    Re: 9 – thanks for reminding us that the failures of the globalised market are a considerable factor in the Middle East revolutions (something which is downplayed by the British media, quel surprise). John
    Harris’ point about the coalition’s policies being an un-mandated volte face needs to be restated too. This morning I heard George Osborne on R4 saying the following: “When you win an election, you gain a certain amount of political capital. You have to use this wisely, and we have done so, by making tough choices.” Somewhat amnesiac, because as I recall (or is my memory failing?), the Conservatives did *not* win an election. I presume he was talking in ideals, but it’s amazing how quickly ideals become ideologies and ideologies become policies.

    Oh – and I’m doing a virtual march against all three major parties, for making it impossible for me to vote for any of them. Disenfranchisement’s no. 11 for me.

    • Glad we’ll have your virtual company! Well, you know my views on orthodox economics, I’m certainly no growth-fetishiser, but there is a tactical position perhaps to be exploited by criticising a pro-growth politician for his failure on his own terms.

      No, your memory must be failing you. Britain was about to fall into a black hole, the Tories won a huge mandate to do anything they wish, and we must all be very grateful for the crumbs from their table! Now, mind your own business: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggBQC52SLis

    • Sorry – just to clarify, I didn’t mean market capitalism has held us in bondage for too long (of course it has, but it’s so bleeding obvious it doesn’t need to be statd). I mean the ‘G’ word – growth. A growth is a tumour after all…

  2. Here’s Caroline Lucas on the (un)green aspects of the budget: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9434000/9434400.stm

  3. Thanks for the summary. Good to catch up after having been away for a bit. Will check out the schedule for Saturday. Noticed today that the p is trying to frighten off people joining the march by ‘predicting violence’. Hmm…

    • Of course. I think, though, it will be so big that should people wish to be away from any possible violent clashes they will be able to do so. The main march itself will be hassle free, I imagine.

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