People's Assembly Against Austerity
|Clare Solomon, Steve Turner, Romayne Phoenix, Sam Fairbairn, Nick McCarthy, David Steel, Owen Jones, John Rees|
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a political initiative launched in the United Kingdom in 2013. It aims to "push the arguments against austerity" that it sees as missing from British politics, and to fight for all those people it sees as being hit by Government policies, including low-paid workers, disabled people, unemployed people, the young, black, minority and ethnic groups and women.
A press conference was held on 26 March 2013 in London where speakers included Caroline Lucas MP, journalist Owen Jones, comedian Mark Steel, then Labour MP Katy Clark, comedian and disabled activist Francesca Martinez, Steve Turner of Unite and Zita Holbourne representing Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts.
The initiative has been backed by major trade unions such as Unite, UNISON, NUT, NUJ, PCS and RMT. It has also received support from numerous campaigning groups, individuals and political parties. These include: the Green Party of England and Wales, the Communist Party of Britain, the Coalition of Resistance, Left Unity, Labour MPs and individuals including: Tariq Ali, Imran Khan, Bruce Kent, John Pilger, and Ken Loach.
Activities and initiatives
On 22 June 2013, over 4,000 people attended a conference at Westminster Central Hall in London. This followed meetings and rallies across the country including Glasgow, Nottingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton & Hove, Southend, Derby, Leicester, North London and South East London.
Following localized group discussions held at the London conference in 2013, local activist groups have been forming and holding meetings across the UK, with the aim of uniting and strengthening existing campaign groups in local areas with the People's Assembly movement. Delegations from the regional groups were expected to join a national mass protest outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on 29 September 2013 and an organised day of civil disobedience across the UK on 5 November 2013.
The People's Assembly organized a demonstration which took place on 21 June 2014, marching from outside the BBC Trust's Portland Place offices to Parliament Square. Organizers claimed up to 50,000 demonstrated in central London. Speakers included, among others, comedians Russell Brand, Kate Smurthwaite, Mark Steel and Francesca Martinez, Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition, Kate Hudson from CND, and, then mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman.
As well as putting on national events, the majority of work is carried out by the local People's Assemblies, that were either founded after the founding People's Assembly, or incorporate pre-existing local anti-cuts groups. These have ranged from People's Question Times, on anti-austerity issues and usually with well known public figures; local demonstrations, regular leafleting, and support for all anti-austerity campaigns in local areas.
In 2015 the first edition of the People's Manifesto was published, articulating anti-austerity policies.
One of the key goals of the People's Assembly movement as published in the Draft Statement is "To make government abandon its austerity programme. If it will not it must be replaced with one that will."
On 16 April, the National People's Assembly led a further national demonstration labelled the "March for Health, Homes, Jobs, Education". More specifically, such causes as a fully funded and publicly owned NHS, ending privatisation, and scrapping tuition Fees and ending the marketisation of education.
It has been reported that the march was attended by 50,000 to 150,000 protesters, who marched from London's Euston Road to Trafalgar Square.
- "National meeting report". The People's Assembly Against Austerity.
- Rhian E. Jones. "Can the People's Assembly revive the Chartist spirit?". The Guardian.
- "Letters: People's Assembly Against Austerity". The Guardian.
- Owen Jones, “How the People’s Assembly can challenge our suffocating political consensus and why it’s vital that we do”, ‘’Independent’’, 24 March 2013
- Owen Jones, “People’s Assembly must be broad and united movement” Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Coalition of Resistance website, 27 March 2013.
- Mark Steel, “Right that’s enough, now what are we going to do about it” Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Coalition of Resistance website, 28 February 2013.
- Open letter, ”People’s Assembly Against Austerity”, The Guardian, 5 February 2013.
- BBC News, "People's Assembly hears union leaders promise anti-cuts action", BBC website, 22 June 2013.
- Jenny Wotherspoon, “People's Assembly: Writer Owen Jones Helps Build Nationwide Anti-Cuts Movement In The North East” Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Sky Tyne & Wear website, 23 May 2013.
- “Hundreds launch Manchester People’s Assembly” Archived 14 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Morning Star, 26 May 2013.
- Marc Rath, “Popular writer joins comedian at anti-cuts rally“[permanent dead link] This is Bristol website, 30 May 2013.
- Luke James, “People's Assembly offers ray of hope” Archived 2013-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, Morning Star, 31 May 2013
- "Local group map". The People's Assembly Against Austerity.
- "The People's Assembly Against Austerity". The People's Assembly Against Austerity.
- Tomas Jivanda (22 June 2014). "Russell Brand calls for 'peaceful, effortless, joyful revolution' (again) during People's Assembly march". The Independent.
- "21 June No More Austerity Demo - Speeches - The People's Assembly Against Austerity". The People's Assembly Against Austerity.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) People's Assembly Draft Statement 20 Sept 2013.
- "The People's Assembly Against Austerity April 16th Demonstration". The People's Assembly Against Austerity.