Anti-austerity movement

Our Right to Protest

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We are all familiar with the continuing attacks on the welfare state, public sector, and vulnerable groups in society by a raft of ideological spending cuts. In addition to that, we have seen a barrage of assaults on the basic democratic and civil right to assemble and protest, a phenomenon that has reached new heights of savagery in recent weeks.

The Royal Wedding was little more than a 24-hour suspension of civil rights. The so-called "Charing Cross Ten" were arrested for having placards wrapped in a bin bag - they weren't even demonstrating. They were shipped off to Surrey, where an entire police station's cells had been reserved for anyone unwilling to go along with the message of patriotism flooding the nation's screens.

Revolt reigns in Spain

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On Friday 20 May there were at least 160 camps in cities and towns all over Spain following demonstrations the previous Sunday "against bankers and politicians" and for "real democracy". In solidarity there have also been pickets outside Spanish embassies all over Europe.

The "15 May Movement", as it has become known, was organised principally through social networks and by non-aligned collectives, some already active over housing or against the banks. Although the camps involve mainly young people, they have received widespread support from people of all ages. The movement coincided with local elections and when the camps were declared illegal by the Central Electoral Board - they were deemed as interfering with the voting process - tens of thousands flocked to their defence and the authorities were forced to retreat.

The contours of class

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The huge TUC organised demonstration in March has shown that the working class is still a force to be reckoned with. Mark L Thomas looks at the reality of class in Britain today, while Jack Farmer unpicks the debate within the Labour Party over how to relate to the cuts

After the huge TUC-organised anti-cuts demonstration at the end of March, one thing should be clear: the contours of British society remain profoundly shaped by class.

It wasn't just that the 26 March protest was huge, though it was. With at least 500,000 demonstrating - perhaps even as many as 750,000 - it was the second biggest demonstration in British history, after the February 2003 anti-war march.

Healthy signs of resistance in the NHS

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"Day X for the NHS" on 9 March saw, for the first time in over a decade, 1,000 health workers taking to the streets of London. They came in scrubs and white coats, marching past the banks chanting, "Our NHS is not for sale, put the bankers into jail!"


At its head were medical and nursing students, joined by a wide range of other health workers. From the name of the protest, Day X, to the vibrancy of the demo, it had all the hallmarks (although on a smaller scale) of last year's student demonstrations.

The Day X mobilisation represents a significant breakthrough. It comes after years of the key health union, Unison, avoiding any fight in the NHS as it put its loyalty to the Labour government ahead of everything.

After March 26: how do we beat the Tories?

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The TUC march against the cuts can become a springboard for strikes on a scale that can begin to break the government's austerity drive. Martin Smith looks at the debates inside the trade union movement and asks, how can we move from the streets to the picket lines?


Photo: Geoff Dexter

In politics as in comedy, timing is everything. Given the choice, I suspect that David Cameron and George Osborne would not have picked 10 March 2011 as the day for ex-Labour minister Lord Hutton to publish his report on public sector pension reform. Reform is something of a misnomer for what was a full-scale assault on the pensions of

Revolutionary Lessons: Should we aim to smash the state?

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Can students challenge the state? Jack Farmer explores the issues.

As the "Day X" student protests unfolded before Christmas, a series of impressions were left in their wake: the sight of teenagers chanting and charging around central London; the smell of placards burning in the freezing air; the sound of breaking glass.

A Generation in Revolt

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For years we have been told that today's students are apathetic. Dave Sewell argues that the "Day X" demonstrations marked the birth of a new student movement.


Image: Loki English

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven."

So the poet Wordsworth hailed the French Revolution of 1789. In 1968 Paris activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit said of 10 May, the night of the barricades:

Student Protest Ignites the Fight

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It will take some time for us to judge the full meaning of the 10 November demonstration accurately. But it is worth reflecting on how it has changed the dynamics of both the student movement and the labour movement at large.


Photo: Geoff Dexter

The demonstration saw over 50,000 people march in an inspiring show of strength through London. This was not only the largest demonstration about education since 1987 but it also ended with an explosion of anger when thousands broke away from the central march to bring their anger to the doorstep of the Tory party headquarters at 30 Millbank.

Greece and Ireland: A Tale of Two Crises

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Across Europe austerity is being imposed - but it is often met with resistance. Nikos Loudos draws lessons from the explosive struggles of Greek workers, while Marnie Holborow exposes the desperation of Ireland's ruling class, whose neoliberal economy has become Europe's weak link.


GREECE: CRUCIBLE OF RESISTANCE


Greek workers show the way

Resistance across Europe

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Italy - Germany - Portugal - Spain

Italy: Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti's attempts to drive through £22 billion in cuts are facing an updraft of resistance. On 16 October up to a million students and workers took to the streets in Rome against the austerity measures in a protest called by the metal workers' Fiom union. Fiom leader Maurizio Landini told workers that the next step was to plan a general strike.

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