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THE Tory government is not fit to govern, thousands of activists declared at a unifying protest in central London yesterday.
Protesters from a wide range of groups including Stand Up To Racism, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Stop the War Coalition, Kill the Bill, Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter, as well as unions Unite and the CWU, participated in the mass action organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
Speakers condemned the Tory government’s failures as the action began at BBC Broadcasting House before marchers set off for Parliament Square via Downing Street.
Protesters chanted the name of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as he took to the stage outside Parliament.
Speaking on behalf of his Project for Peace and Justice, he hit out at the government’s failures on the climate emergency, health and social care, and public services.
“If as a country we can afford to create more billionaires during a crisis, we can afford to tax those billionaires to fund the services that we need,” the Islington North MP said.
“That is what justice is about. And all of us, in all our diversity, are a real strength.
“We will never allow the Islamophobes, anti-semites, the racists, or anybody else to divide us. We are united as a people demanding a fair and just world, demanding a world fit for the next generation.”
Labour MP Zarah Sultana accused the government of committing social murder during the pandemic and said that the country needs a strong Labour Party to oppose it.
She told the demonstration, which took place shortly before Matt Hancock’s resignation as health secretary, that it was not just him who had to go.
“Under [the] government, tens of thousands of disproportionately working-class people died,” she said.
“It’s also Boris Johnson [who has to go], it’s Rishi Sunak, it’s Priti Patel, it’s the whole rotten Conservative Party.
Ms Sultana said that this will not be achieved by “playing by their rules” but from the bottom up: in the streets, in workplaces and in communities.
“We do it by uniting our class against the wealthy few who exploit us.
“Rather than moving right, we should be building our Labour’s 2019 manifesto. And we need to do it by being true to our internationalism and calling for justice from Palestine to Kashmir.”
Trade unionists including CWU leader Dave Ward and Unite assistant general secretaries Steve Turner and Howard Beckett called for a union-led fightback against the government. Mr Beckett, who recently withdrew from the Unite leadership contest, called for the left to unite behind Mr Turner’s candidacy to ensure Unite remains a militant left-led union.
Labour MPs Richard Burgon and Barry Gardiner condemned the government’s austerity politics.
Mr Burgon urged the public to fight for all the popular policies that Labour stood for under Mr Corbyn, while Mr Gardiner called for the enforcement of rights for workers currently facing bosses’ fire-and-rehire tactics.
Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said that the Prime Minister would “never take our right to protest” through his government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
She said that the Tories have disabled people’s blood on their hands.
“You be very afraid, because after 15 months of shielding, DPAC are back,” she said.
Louise Irvine of Keep Our NHS Public said that Covid-19 has exposed our fractured society and that the government has been “grossly opportunist” in giving contracts worth millions to their “greedy, incompetent mates.”
She called for an immediate public inquiry into the government’s failings instead of one that will report back too late to learn lessons and save lives.
PSC director Ben Jamal said: “We have at last united against a politics that privileges the rights of a few against the many, that sustains the unjust structures that disempower people because of their class, their gender, their race, sexual identity or religion.
“The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people is an invisible part of the struggle against all unjust structures of power.”
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