Marching against austerity

Marching against austerity

Date: 23 October 2012

Last Saturday, over 100,000 people marched through the streets of London for the TUC march: A future that works. They were calling for an end to the austerity that is being forced upon this country by the ConDem government. WDM staff and group members were there to show our opposition to cuts which see the most hard-up in our society pay the price for a banking collapse for which they are not blame.

 Group of WDM supporters with WDM flags

Members of the Brighton WDM group join WDM staff at the march. 

Four years on from the beginning of the banking crisis and we are still in a recession, and even the IMF has advised that Britain must ease off on austerity. It is clear that the government’s cuts are not working. 

The government cuts remind us of the campaigning WDM did on debt during the 1980s and 1990s with activists in the global south. The debt on poorer countries was imposed by a western-led neo-liberal agenda by rich countries through bodies like the IMF and the World Bank. The obsession with ‘economic growth’ paved the way for privatisation of essential public services in the global south. Western financial institutions told countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that this would result in economic growth which would revive their economies. 

Even though severe cuts were made to public services, the promised growth became a reality for only very few people in very few countries. Often the complete opposite happened and in some countries economic growth actually declined. What did increase was the gap between rich and poor and the vulnerability of some of the poorest sections of society. You can read about the parralels the current cuts and the campaigning we did in the 1980s and 1990s in our booklet Fighting the cuts: lessons from around the world.

Those who are passionate about global justice know that a bankrupt economic system is the cause of many of the injustices around the world and is the reason why austerity measures and the privatisation of public services didn’t work in the global south and they will not work in the UK either. 

It was great that so many people from different groups and unions turned out en masse this weekend. It gives a message to the government that we have had enough and we won’t stand for these cuts. This is a message that resonates with thousands of people across the country and the world. On the same day as the march, our allies in Bangladesh organised a solidarity action and took to the streets with a rally and procession of several hundred garment workers, holding red and green Bangladeshi national flags. The trade union activists where calling on the “Workers, working people, trade unions and general masses of the world… to build united protest and resistance.”

Although hundreds of thousands of people turned up to march on Saturday and other actions took place throughout the day, there is still more to be done to create the change that is needed. These marches need to be backed up with more campaigning and more action. Anti-cuts groups are springing up across the country, and some WDM groups have already been making links and organising joint events. There are useful lessons to remember from the western-led neoliberal policies which created debt and poverty for countries in the global south.