Yesterday's budget saw vicious attacks on huge sections of society. But one group particularly hard hit was young people. The abolition of student grants, attacks on our right to housing benefit and the news that under-25s will be excluded from the new so-called living wage, mean young people are facing an even more bleak and uncertain future. But Osborne's cuts budget was not met without resistance. Protests took place around the country . Youth Fight for Jobs organised over 20 of these under the banner Youth Fight Austerity, in a national day of action.
Reports and photos of all our protests are to follow. But, as a taste, here is the text of the Youth Fight Austerity leaflet handed out on the London protests, and some photos of other actions that took place:
[caption id="attachment_1300" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Youth Fight Austerity protest in Birmingham"][/caption]
Europe is aflame with the spirit of Greek resistance. A single word – ‘oxi’ – has summarised the feelings not just of millions of Greeks, but of working class and young people across Europe. This resounding ‘no’ to austerity is a rallying cry to those engaged in the struggle against cuts and capitalism internationally. As we gather to protest against the Tories’ austerity-in-overdrive budget, we can draw both courage and confidence from the Greek people’s heroic defiance.
Here in Britain, a slow drip of news stories has given us a sense of the carnage that will be unleashed in Osborne’s emergency budget. With only 24% of the electorate’s support, the Tories are falsely claiming a mandate for cuts savagery. For this gang of millionaires, nothing is beyond the scope of their axe.
Young people are particularly in the firing line. Attacks on our right to benefits, as well as cuts to education and services, are all on the agenda. Our future is being sacrificed on the altar of profit. But young people, in Britain and internationally, have shown huge willingness to fight. This emergency budget must act as a call to arms for the anti-austerity movement. Already since May, mass protests – youthful and electric – have filled our streets.
[caption id="attachment_1301" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Youth Fight Austerity protesters in London"][/caption]
And protesting makes a difference. Marching together demonstrates to those in power our huge potential collective strength. It gives us the confidence of knowing we’re not alone. That’s why on Saturday, once the full extent of the onslaught has become clear, Youth Fight Austerity is calling for working class and young people, trade unionists and community campaigners, to gather in parliament square again. This time we want to bring tents and ‘occupy against austerity’. Let’s show Osborne that austerity Britain, just like austerity Greece, Spain or France, is ready to resist.
But our protests need to form part of a wider strategy - a strategy for building the kind of movement that can defeat the government. In the Queen’s speech, David Cameron attacked trade unions and pledged new legislation to limit the right to strike. Why? Because, despite the rhetoric, this government still fears the power of the workers – especially when they’re organised in trade unions.
As today’s budget protest ends, the London Underground will be coming to a halt. The reason: tube workers are taking part in a strike against attempts to make them work longer hours and accept lower pay. As rush-hour London grinds to a standstill, what better demonstration could there be of the huge potential power of working class people? It’s this – the enormous economic might of workers – that needs to be employed in the battle against the Tories if we are to win. Today, we march together, but tomorrow we must strike together. A 24 hour general strike, if built and prepared by the trade unions, could electrify Britain and deal a mighty blow against the Tories.
And we need to be fighting on the political field too. With the world’s eyes on Greece, the last weeks have provided a stern lesson in the nature of the capitalist ‘institutions’ at the heart of the Eurozone. Their utter intransigence has graphically shown that, in the eyes of capitalist class and their political representatives, no amount of human tragedy or intolerable suffering can compete in importance with the needs of the bond-holders and the super-rich elite.
[caption id="attachment_1302" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Youth Fight Austerity protesters in York"][/caption]
In Britain, it’s this same ‘logic’ that argues for the inevitability of austerity. And it’s a ‘logic’ is accepted not just by the Tories, but Labour too. That’s why fighting cuts must mean fighting for a political alternative: a socialist alternative. We need a society based on meeting the needs of the 99%, not on protecting the privilege of a super-rich few. Austerity is only inevitable if you accept that the rich must continue to get richer – that the financial needs of the banksters trump those of ordinary people. That’s why austerity is a lie. From Syntagma to Parliament Square a cry of ‘oxi’- no to austerity and misery, is ringing through the streets. And this is only the beginning.