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 in the United Kingdom, launched in 2013 and backed by major trade unions such as Unite, UNISON, NUT, NUJ, PCS, RMT and numerous other campaigning groups and individuals such as the Green Party, the Communist Party of Britain, the Coalition of Resistance, Left Unity, Labour MPs, Tariq Ali, Imran Khan, John Pilger and Ken Loach.
It is a movement to "push the arguments against austerity" 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.
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".
The demonstration was organised to protest for the following causes:
- Fully funded and publicly owned NHS - end privatisation
- Invest in health workers - end the staffing crisis
- No cuts or closures
- Hands off social housing
- Secure homes for all
- Control rents
- Scrap the Trade Union Reform Bill
- Stop insecure contracts
- End the pay freeze, living wage for all
- Scrap Tuition Fees
- Invest in our futures - stop cuts to education
- End 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.
- Open letter, ”People’s Assembly Against Austerity”, ‘’The Guardian’‘, 5 February 2013
- 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”, ‘ ‘Coalition of Resistance’ ‘ website, 27 March 2013
- Mark Steel, “Right that’s enough, now what are we going to do about it”, ‘‘Coalition of Resistance’‘ website, 28 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”, ‘‘Sky Tyne & Wear’‘ website, 23 May 2013
- Morning Star, “Hundreds launch Manchester People’s Assembly”, ‘’Morning Star’’, 26 May 2013
- Marc Rath, “Popular writer joins comedian at anti-cuts rally“ ‘’This is Bristol’’ website, 30 May 2013
- Luke James, “People's Assembly offers ray of hope”, ‘’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.
- "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.
- http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/draft-statement/ People's Assembly Draft Statement 20 Sept 2013
- "The People's Assembly Against Austerity April 16th Demonstration". The People's Assembly Against Austerity.