Protests Mark Queen's Speech
London: Determination to fight back on a new scale
Claire Laker Mansfield
"Tory scum, here we come". This chant, that echoed through Westminster's streets on 27 May, was a declaration of war. The Queen's Speech announced an onslaught to be waged on behalf of the rich against young and working class people. But, as the thousands who gathered outside Downing Street and around the country made clear, workers and youth are ready to respond in kind.
This fresh, youthful and - above all - angry protest demonstrated the huge appetite for struggle. If we want to beat austerity, we'll need a fight back on a scale not seen for decades. As parliament re-opened and Tory savagery recommenced with viciously renewed zeal, London's protest, part of a national day of action, showed there is huge energy and determination for the challenge ahead.
Youth Fight for Jobs, as well as other campaigns and groups, had put out a call for protesters to gather in central London. Organised at relatively short notice, the protest was mainly built through word-of-mouth and social media. By around 5.30pm up to 2,000 mostly young people were marching (and sometimes running) around Westminster.
The protest passed Downing Street, marched through Parliament Square, and snaked past Buckingham palace and Scotland Yard before returning to Trafalgar Square. It was here that protesters semi-spontaneously gathered on the steps outside the National Gallery. Youth Fight for Jobs then led a short rally.
The crowd listened to speeches from different campaigns and organisations, as well as from individuals who wanted to share why they had come to protest. Paul Callanan, speaking for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was cheered and clapped when he attacked the so-called 'austerity consensus' supported by all the mainstream parties.
Calls for a 24-hour general strike - urgently needed to start building the kind of movement capable of ending austerity as well as new anti-union laws - were met with applause and chanting. Other speakers included a Sweets Way housing campaigner, student activists and a public sector worker from Unison.
But it was clear the protest had not run out of steam. After taking a vote, the demonstration continued. We marched to Oxford Street where tax avoiding companies like Boots and Vodafone were named and shamed. There was a short sit-down protest at Piccadilly Circus before the protest wound its way back to Downing Street. Here, at around 8.30 in the evening and after more than three hours of marching, the protest began to wind down.
This protest and others organised around the UK as part of a national day of action called by Youth Fight for Jobs, mark the opening round in what will need to be a colossal struggle to defeat this brutal government of millionaires.
As an immediate next step, we need to ensure that George Osborne's emergency budget on 8 July is met by an enormous wave of protest. And we need to build pressure on the leaders of Britain's potentially hugely powerful trade union movement to call for mass coordinated strike action - and lead the kind of fight needed for us to win.
Above all, we need to send a clear message to the "Tory scum" who want to snatch our future: We are coming for you.
Leeds: 1,000 join YFJ protest against austerity
An anti-austerity protest organised by Leeds
Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) on the day of the state opening of parliament - which inspired other protests across the country - drew 1,000 protesters yesterday, despite driving rain.
, in Victoria Gardens, Leeds, heard from young workers, students, anti-bedroom tax activists, asylum seeker rights campaigners and trade unionists, amongst others, on the savage plans to attack working class people that the new Tory government is announcing.
Iain Dalton, Yorkshire YFJ organiser said: "The response today and at demonstrations around the country shows that there is big opposition to what the government
is proposing. Only 24% of the electorate voted for the government. Many young people - who several of its measures are aimed at - were below the voting age for that election as well. Interestingly, its already pushed back its proposals regarding the human rights act, which shows how protest can move it.
"Given the weather, 1,000 people turning up was beyond our expectations. Many of those people who were on their first protest have been in touch with us to ask when the next demonstration is. We're building towards a day of action with the Fast Food Rights campaign in Wakefield on 13th June and, of course, the big anti-austerity demo in London on the 20th June".