So, a few weeks into the the new government, it seems there’s quite a lot of people who want to fight back, one way or another. If big crowds come out for the various anti-government demos that are coming up, that’ll be good, and if people think creatively about how to make these events more interesting than just marching from one place to another, and get together with trusted friends to make ambitious plans, that’ll be good as well. But if we adopt the Big Day Out model so common among much of the left, and see the struggle as mainly being about big showy one-off events, we’ll be defeated before we even start.
We need to start by looking at our own lives, and thinking about how we can win. For instance, despite the general feeling of defeat across much of the left, hospitality workers in Brighton are still fighting employers and claiming wages that they’re owed, making real gains, no matter how small. For those interested in workers’ organisation, the Angry Workers of the World collective are hosting two film and discussion nights in London, as well as one in Leeds, and possibly others across the country, looking at struggles in the warehouse and logistics sector, and new forms of organisation emerging there.
Another ray of hope over the last few years has been the steady stream of victories won by claimants and their friends chipping away at workfare schemes. If you want to get involved in the ongoing organising around welfare, a good place to start would be the Welfare Action Gathering coming up on May 30th, and coming up after that there should be protests across the country targeting B&M Bargains on June 27th, after they were given an award for their commitment to workfare. Other employers have been forced to pull out, let’s make B&M Bargains the next name on the list.
Finally, the emerging movement around housing in London continues to be an inspiration – a new occupation by Guinness Trust tenants in Brixton started today, and eviction resistance is another form of action that’s continuing to make a real measurable difference to people’s lives. Big days out in London can be nice, but it’s by focusing on our own lives – where we work, where we live, and all the rest of it – that we have the chance to start building real power.