Government faces wave of protest over retrenchment policies

By staff writers
22 Oct 2010

A huge wave of public protest is being organised against the savage public spending cuts announced in parliament on 20 October 2010 by the UK government.

Chancellor George Osborne's plan for half a million job losses, the slashing of welfare, crippling cuts to social housing and other measures which target the most vulnerable and spare the more wealthy has produced anger, but not despair.

The Coalition of Resistance (http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/) against cuts and privatisation has already been on the march, and is spreading information about a range of demonstrations planned between now and its formal launch on 27 November 2010.

On Saturday 23 October there will be a march from the Rail & Maritime Workers Union (RMT) headquarters in Chalton Street, London NW1 through to Trades Union Congress (TUC) HQ in Great Russell Street, London WC1, where there will be a rally held at 12 noon and a public meeting.

There will also be a large march and rally in Edinburgh (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13393), which will be supported by unions, community organisations, civic groups and church bodies - including the Iona Community, Church Action on Poverty and Faith in the Community Scotland.

One of the speakers at the march in Scotland's capital will be the Rev Ian Galloway, convenor of the Kirk's influential Church and Nation Committee.

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Alison Tomlin, also spoke out against measures that will harm the poorest members of society at a TUC rally in Westminster Hll, Central London, the day before the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) announcement in the House of Commons.

The Coalition of Resistance has re-published a statement (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13394) setting out its strong moral case against the measures the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government has put forward.

Veteran ex-MP Tony Benn (who famously left parliament in 2001 "to spend more time in politics") and Green Party leader and MP Caroline Lucas are among the core signatories, with thousands of individuals and organisations anticipated to sign up.

The Coalition says it aims not just to be an oppositional force, but to develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.

Alternative proposals for turning Britain's deficit into recovery based on investment, jobs and a low carbon future are already being set out by the New Economics Foundation, the Green Party, the Other Taxpayers Alliance, the Robin Hood Tax Campaign and others.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Resistance lists 23 national and 15 regional anti-cuts organisations in England alone, plus protests planned in Barnet, Birmingham, Lincoln, York, Cambridge Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Brighton, Bournemouth and Manchester.

Organisers believe that the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Deputy Prime Minsiter Nick Clegg will face "a huge wave of unrest" in the coming weeks, and have "not yet comprehended the full depth of disgust felt within the public at large" as the nature of the cuts and their victims comes to light.

Already, opinion polls indicate that over 40 per cent of the British population are unconvinced by the government's argument that a financial crisis originating in the banking sector should effectively be paid for by the more vulnerable members of society. Protesters say they believe that number will "increase dramatically" in the run-up to Christmas.

The Coalition of Resistance describes itself as "a broad united national campaign against cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services, based on general agreement with the Founding Statement... [It] is linked to no particular political party, but committed to open working in a non-sectarian way with all organisations seeking to co-ordinate resistance.

The impetus for the movement came from Tony Benn and others back in August 2010, but it has gained a growing groundswell of support over the past 48 hours.

More information here: http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk

[Ekklesia, as a think-tank on beliefs and values, and a network of change rooted in the nonconformist Christian tradition, has indicated its support for the Coalition]

[Ekk/3]

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.