By Paul Taylor
The launch of the Peoples Assembly Against Austerity in Sheffield on Wednesday 23 May saw nearly 400 people crammed in to the city centre venue. The meeting brought together the broadest spectrum of opponents to austerity yet seen in the city.
Owen Jones and Mark Steele opened and closed the meeting, which was chaired by UNITE regional secretary Karen Reay.
Other speakers were Abdi Suleiman President Sheffield University Student President, Cllr Jack Scott Sheffield Labour Party, Marion Lloyd PCS and Ben Morris from Sheffield Trades Council.
Both Owen Jones and Mark Steele highlighted the need for a broad movement including the trade unions, Labour, Greens and all those opposed to austerity.
Owen explained why we need a coherent alternative to austerity. He called for a programme of house building, a living wage for all, an industrial strategy to create Green jobs and tax justice.
He underlined the need to create a public investment bank. He also emphasised why we must challenge the racism and xenophobia being whipped up to confuse and divide people.
Mark’s comments welcoming the opportunity to debate in a comradely way the different approaches to defeating austerity were met with an enthusiastic response.
The meeting provided a glimpse of the type of movement we need if we are to move on from the fragmented and uneven opposition to the Coalition government we have seen to date.
All the speakers recognised that if we are to have an effective national campaign against austerity everyone must make supporting the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in June an urgent priority.
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