Manchester anti-cuts protesters march on town hall
With the PCS union samba band leading the demo, it was vibrant and had energy, but was smaller in size than the most recent city-wide demonstration against cuts in December, and much smaller than the recent (and successful) South Manchester action to save Withington Library a few weeks ago.
Finishing at the town hall, an interesting speech by a representative of the dynamic campaign to save Levenshulme swimming pool and library spoke about their recent occupation and growing campaign to fight service cuts. Ryan Bradshaw, a solicitor and benefits advice worker spoke about how welfare cuts were affecting those on the ground, forcing many into severe poverty.
Speeches were interrupted at one point when English Defence League supporters publicising their upcoming demonstration turned up. But they were quickly given an earful by those at the rally before being escorted away by police.
Overall, whilst a couple of representatives from local campaigns attended, the title of the march, “Unite against all cuts” made it difficult to attract those beyond the networks of the radical left, and many on the demonstration were disappointed that there was not more community involvement.
It’s an important principle that the anticuts movement opposes all the cuts and does not campaign to save a service at the expense of another.
But we need to think more carefully about how we can bring local campaigns together, and how to mobilise the grassroots activists behind them in future actions. Today had the feel of a demonstration called by devout far-left campaigners more than hard hit Manchester communities.