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Report on the Peoples Assembly 22nd June

Report on the Peoples Assembly 22nd June

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Published by Ollie Vargas
Report on PA
Report on PA

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Published by: Ollie Vargas on Jan 21, 2014
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Report on the Peoples Assembly 22nd June With over 4000 registered for the event, the People’s

Assembly was shaping up to be one of the most important meetings since the crisis broke, drawing in an impressive number of anti cuts campaign groups and organisations. Primarily it can be seen as a much welcome realignment of the fragmented anti austerity movement, especially important now with the past few months having seen a marked revival of anticuts movements. Monster demonstrations in Lewisham and Stafford in defence of the NHS, large bedroom tax rallies nationally, strikes and occupations at universities in Sussex and Warwick, anti-privatisation strikes in the postal service and a number of drawn out local disputes in the private sector, these have all provided a shot in the arm of the movement but in desperate need for some kind of national coordination. The feeling of the hall was summed up by Owen Jones when described how for too long the proponents of austerity were dominating the public discourse and that, ‘now it’s our turn’. In many ways the sessions of the day failed to live up to its expectations. ‘Reunionising the UK’ was dominated by those in the public sector making simplistic arguments that didn’t really apply for the private sector, the session on the NHS was mainly health workers explaining the devastating effects of the cuts, but contributing little to the organisational issues around that. Though the last session of the day on ‘local assemblies’ proved to be the reason we were all there. In that session we split up into regions then into counties, there were around 10 people from Essex and concrete plans were made on organising locally, these were: 1) Build an Essex wide peoples assembly in Chelmsford with a national speaker but with the focus on drawing together the widest possible forces across the county and planning resistance locally and nationally. A draft programme has been circulated for the day:

“- kick off from speaker from the national PA workshops run twice unless we have a longer list by then on: 1. Welfare benefits including the Bedroom Tax. A facilitator for that could be Mick Patrick from Harlow who is on the national committee of Defend Council Housing and involved in the benefits justice campaign 2. NHS. Norman is involved in KONP so might be able to suggest someone and we could almost certainly get someone from UNISON 3. Alternatives to Austerity. Richard Edwards (Regional Secretary for PCS) is a possibility as they have done some good leaflets on this. Also Richard Exell ( Senior Policy Officer at the TUC) lives in Brightlingsea. Both have spoken at the Chelmsford TUC. Possibly Keith Blackburn who works for Essex CC but is an economist and by background, used to work for TUC/ TGWU and lives in Colchester. 4. Immigration and the far right. Someone from UAF/Hope not Hate/Essex antifa (I don't think they are the best of friends but it may depend who we can get.) 5. Not said on Saturday but could/ should we do one on Education? Followed by a plenary which would discuss the next steps and be rounded off by a 'rabble-rousing' key speaker. Richard Howitt was suggested and we said we would

Placing ourselves. organise a PA in each town after that. If we get this right then this could be the most important period for those of us in the anticuts movement. So that’s why the PA is of such importance. Building the Essex Peoples Assembly needs to be a priority because it’s one of the few serious attempts to realign the anticuts movement which is something we desperately need if we’re to take on the government and move beyond isolated local actions. This was the focal point during the PA as the next ‘big thing’ and now that its been supported by Unite and Unison as a national demonstration. this needs to be a priority. with the support of union bureaucrats and MPs. but its only real future.as activists. but the mass participation from below has meant it’s now way out their control and activists in the localities have a genuine ownership autonomous of the leadership. Coalition of Resistance. Unite the Resistance etc.com/events/180082478839325/?fref=ts.approach him anyhow. it’ll give impetus to all our work and make us a force to be reckoned with. There should be as many students as possible at the Essex Peoples Assembly on the 15th September https://www.). especially when one looks to the existing anticuts groups. for the PA. but it’s the local groups that are not only the heart of this initiative.deliberately outside it is ossifying ourselves from the mass of people whose are serious about building resistance. It has drawn in nearly all the disparate elements of the anticuts movement to act as a hub and a point of reference for those of us fighting back. It’s easy to be cynical because these groups have primarily existed as empty recruiting fronts for small sects rather than genuinely representative of the movement. if those of us from below don’t engage then it opens the door for the substitutionist tendencies of the self proclaimed ‘leaders’ to dictate and ultimately hollow the movement out. Clearly the low level of struggle over the past year has demoralised many and internalised a lot of issues and no single meeting can conjure up a mass movement. Just another anti cuts campaign? Valid criticisms have been made of the PA based around it being a ‘talking shop’ or that its just another John Rees/Lindsey German front to push their other groups (CoR. The People’s Assembly process is taking place in a context of a relative upturn in movement and the potential of what could be a very restless autumn with strikes and national demonstrations planned. Though on a more political point. Counterfire etc. do we need yet another anticuts group? What is their place in the movement and how do their interventions affect the struggle? These are perfectly legitimate points.” 2) Use the Essex PA to build a large delegation for the defend the nhs protest outside the tory party conference in Manchester on 29th September. but more importantly. Anyone know him well enough to do that? (if not it will be easy enough through other contacts. 3) Depending on the nature of the Essex PA.facebook. how the coming period will pan out is anyone’s guess but providing a solid network of Essex wide activists beforehand will be crucial to building the stronger resistance of tomorrow and keeping things together in the event of another downturn. . The PA was declared from above. it’ll bring together all who want to fight the cuts and certainly bring new activists into the fold. This may or may not have been the intentions of Rees etc.

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