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Let's grow this movement

A breach of the peace or breaking a local government by-law is a price worth paying for fighting to defend the essential features of a civilised society

In many towns and cities across Britain yesterday, the People's Assembly Against Austerity organised protests against the policies of the Tory-led government.

Among the deserving targets of people's anger were government premises, banks, tax-dodging chain shops, loan sharks, zero-hour employers, and contractors such as Atos which carry out the government's dirty work to persecute the sick and disabled.

Some People's Assembly groups marched to highlight the iniquities of the bedroom tax, a cruel and cynical policy which holds the unemployed responsible for Britain's chronic housing shortage. 

Other protesters joined probation staff on picket lines, linking arms in the fight against the latest madcap scheme to turn a vital public service into a cash cow for crooked or incompetent profiteers like G4S.

Many activists also showed their support for railway unions in the battle for a modern rail network wholly in the public sector, in place of the corporate chaos that is Britain's privatised railway system.

Some initiatives involved acts of civil disobedience. This has prompted the usual contrived outrage from the Tories and sections of the right-wing and Establishment media.

For them, an occupied road or a smashed window is an infinitely more intolerable breach of civilised behaviour than, say, a bombing raid or a drone strike that wipes out farmers or a wedding party in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

For the Morning Star, a breach of the peace or breaking a local government by-law is a price worth paying for fighting to defend the essential features of a civilised society such as a job with decent pay and a pension, benefits which allow people to live with dignity, and public services which serve public need rather than private greed.

What is important is that such actions help to win the public to the anti-austerity case. Because, if truth be told, there is still a mountain to climb in the battle of ideas.

Yes, many more people now recognise the injustice and hypocrisy of the Tory-Lib Dem austerity and privatisation agenda.

They realise that we are not, in the infamous words of Chancellor Osborne, "all in this together."

It's more a case of shrinking incomes, rising prices and disappearing services for the mass of workers and their families and shrinking taxes, soaring remuneration and sumptuous pension pots for the fat cats.

Yet still many people also believe that Britain has a public debt crisis and that there is no realistic alternative to austerity.

This is why the People's Assembly movement can play such an important part in persuading and mobilising people for the kind of alternative presented by the People's Charter - for progressive taxation, public ownership and democratic planning. 

But to do so, local groups must reach deep into their communities, articulating local concerns and drawing local people into campaigning.

Ideological "blood and urine" tests demanding total opposition to all local cuts or a commitment to socialism as a condition of entry would stifle the movement's potential.

Working closely with the trade unions and local trades union councils can, on the other hand, help ensure that the People's Assembly keeps its feet on the ground while raising its sights to the horizon.

Plans for women's and students' assemblies will help to develop the struggle on important fronts.

The aim must be to defeat the Tory-Lib Dem offensive through mass community and trade union action, with public support. 

This coalition government is an unelected, illegitimate regime concocted on the basis of false manifestos.

The people should sweep it out of office at the earliest opportunity.


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