Matt Dunne from Leeds reports on Plan C’s Bloc on the National anti-austerity demonstration on June 20th in London.
We organised our biggest intervention as Plan C on a national demonstration as part of the “End Austerity Now” march called by Peoples Assembly.
We had put a call out for people to meet by Bishopsgate Library to march as one down to the Bank of England for the start of the march, as well as advertising a crèche to allow parents to drop off kids and still participate in the demo themselves. Plan C members met in East London, and joining the migrant workers of United Voices, a group of about 40 of us marched behind a banner saying “Everything for Everyone” through Bethnal Green to the City, taking the streets to a great reception from the local community including cheers, raised fists and horns beeping from passing cars.
At Bishopsgate we met more of our comrades and set up side banners to make sure we kept as a tight bloc throughout. With about 100 people now joining us we kept the road as we marched down Bishopsgate towards Bank, and were joined by another 50 in the IWW bloc as we marched.
Throughout the demo our bloc was tight, well formed, lively and made up of all ages including children, with side banners meaning we kept formation. We had answered Netpol’s call to mask up by making our own pink bandanas with extra to distribute to anyone wanting to join us, with the intention of helping to normalise masking up.
Other marchers showed an interest in the hopeful messages on our banners, including “Everything for Everyone” and “Summer is Coming”, and we included a banner in solidarity with comrades across Europe also demonstrating on the 20th against austerity and nationalism. Our chants proved a huge success, being taken up by others on the march and by bouncing along to them our bloc became even more noticeable and vibrant. We kept our own space on the route so our banners could be clearly seen and this also meant we could have bursts of running into space as a bloc, keeping everyone feeling energised and together.
We also have been working on improving our social media presence at large public events and feel we made a significant step in doing so.
We had originally intended to join the migrants bloc but unfortunately issues of space at Bank meant we were unable to, but we would still like to extend our solidarity to all those on that bloc. After Parliament Square our comrades in IWW went to an action in support of some of their victimised members at City Hall, and while tired legs, hoarse voices and exhausted children prevented us from joining we would also like to show solidarity to them and all others who attempted to break away to take direct action.
Other members of Plan C also stayed at the Common House to run a crèche for marchers so that they could take to the streets more easily. This was an attempt to provide the vital function of care for each other as part of a movement.
Children had a trip to the Childhood Museum, made anti-austerity jewellery and made a tie-dye banner saying, “Without care victory is not possible”, echoing the political purpose of the crèche. The crèche was a great success and we hope in future for this to be normalised further and more widely used by parents wanting to march without children.
On the stage many speakers suggested this was “only the beginning”, but the post-crisis struggles against austerity have been going on for 5 years now and we need to be trying to learn lessons. It felt like we have managed to improve our street presence and it was great to join with groups and comrades we have been forging alliances and relationships with in the past years.
While both the bloc and the crèche show a positive start to our interventions into national demonstrations, we know it’s not enough to protest, so we’ll do more than protest to build a world where everything is for everyone.
More reports and analysis to follow from June 20th..