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Labour Must Offer a Bold Alternative to Tory Class War – Begum, Burgon, McDonnell, union leaders & 1000s of activists rally for a people’s budget

“Throughout the last nine months, the Tories have been waging class war & there’s been no attempt to hold back in terms of the virulent attack on working people.”

John McDonnell MP.

Monday night saw 1000s of Labour activists join a Labour Assembly Against Austerity rally chaired by Apsana Begum MP which has received substantial national media coverage urging Labour to advocate a bold people’s budget and stand firmly against the Tories.

Closing speaker Richard Burgon MP summed up the mood of the event by arguing, “This crisis isn’t the moment to suspend politics; it’s the moment to deepen politics. Our Party needs to start leading that fight.”

Other speakers included, Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary, who echoed concerns across our movement in recent weeks that Labour is not being bold enough in either proposing radical economic alternatives or in fighting Tories, saying that “We must go on the front foot, policy-wise, to argue for a totally different kind of society – on with fair rates of taxation, that supports our public sector, and that actually puts money in people’s pockets.”

In terms of the need to build extra-parliamentary resistance he added, “The question is, do we sit around and wait for the general election and hope that Labour pick up in the polls, or do we commit to resist what the Tories have got in store?”

Myriam Kane of the Black Liberation focussed her contribution on how Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities are disproportionately dying while the government denies that institutional racism has been a key cause, arguing that “You do not beat a pandemic with disunity; you beat it by unifying communities.“

A number of other speakers also drew attention to both the Tories divide and rule tactics and class war methods.

As John McDonnell MP put it, “Throughout the last nine months, the Tories have been waging class war and there’s been no attempt to hold back in terms of the virulent attack on working people – their employment conditions… their wages… or benefits and support.”

We have to be just as firm in our opposition, meaning that “For every strike – [there must be] automatic support; for others who are resisting evictions and rent hikes, we support them wholeheartedly… and it’s the same with all those campaigning against the privatisation of our public services.”

Going forward, as Sarah Wooley, BFAWU General Secretary, put it “Austerity 2.0 is not going to reboot the economy – it’s just going to create more poverty and more insecurity.”

We will leave the final word to Laura Pidcock, Labour NEC member, “Everything that we’ve endured over the last year shows that it’s not only Sunak that needs to go, but the capitalist system too.”