Wave of anti-austerity protest sweeps across Britain

By Jennifer Nash

Report on the People’s Assembly National Day of Action which took place on Tuesday 5 November 2013

Yesterday’s National Day of Action against austerity coordinated by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity saw a wave of protests across Britain, with local groups organizing actions in 40 towns and cities.

This National Day of Action built on the upturn of struggle against austerity we have seen in recent months, with the 4,000 strong launch of the People’s Assembly in June, the massive anti-Tory demonstration in Manchester in September and a wave of strike actions from teachers, lecturers, university staff, fire-fighters, probation officers and others in recent weeks.

Yesterday’s protests started early with Bring Back British Rail organising an action at Euston Station during the morning rush hour, marking twenty years to the day when the railways were privatised.

The afternoon saw campus anti-cuts groups organize stunts and direct action against austerity, following on from the weekend’s successful Student Assembly Against Austerity.

Cambridge Defend Education staged a stunt to highlight opposition to the government’s plans to privatize the student loan book. In a creative twist on the famous playground game ‘Stuck in the Mud’ student activists performed a game of ‘Stuck in the Debt’ which involved students being captured by debt-wielding bankers.

Cambridge Defend Education protest against the proposed privatisation of student loans

At the same time London student activists briefly occupied the University and College Employers Association in solidarity with university staff’s on-going struggle for fair pay in response to 5 years of consecutive pay cuts.

As the day drew to a close, protesters in took to the streets of central London.

On Westminster Bridge hundreds gathered to burn energy bills in opposition to the rising cost of living in the People’s Assembly’s ‘Bonfire of austerity’. Owen Jones underlined why the People’s Assembly movement is so vital as he explained during his speech, “Pensioners are going to freeze to death thanks to rising energy bills.”

Meanwhile Russell Brand led the hundreds-strong Anonymous march against austerity cuts from Trafalgar Square to Parliament. Their message was clear: “remember who your enemies are: billionaires who own banks and corporations who corrupt politicians who enslave the people in injustice.”

In the Guardian Russell Brand commented: “Luckily with organisations like them, Occupy, Anonymous and The People’s Assembly I don’t need to come with ideas, we can all participate.”

Russell Brand joins yesterday’s anti-austerity protest

Sam Fairbairn, Secretary of the People’s Assembly summed up why so many people were getting involved in this growing movement against austerity through yesterday’s day of action, “This government chose to punish those least responsible for the economic crisis whilst letting the bankers carry on as before. It might be back to boom time in the City of London, but most households round here are struggling with frozen wages and soaring energy bills.”

Following on from yesterday’s successful National Day of Action, continuing to build the movement and the momentum is a top priority over the coming weeks and into the New Year. Keep in touch with the People’s Assembly for the next steps.