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'Clegg Off to Cuts!' - opposing the Lib Dem spring conference, Newcastle - 10 March 2012

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On Saturday 10 March, several hundred people marched from Byker through the streets of Newcastle to protest against the Lib Dem Spring Conference taking place in Gateshead. The party had the arrogance to hold their conference in one of the most savagely cut areas of the country. Although Nick Clegg called on his party members to stop apologising for their decisions whilst in the Coalition, and to shout about their achievements, demonstrators exposed exactly what they have achieved in their 22 months in power: cuts to jobs and services, tuition fees, privatization, repression and military intervention.

The trade unions once again proved unwilling to mount real opposition, organising a march of several hundred people only 100 metres along the quayside. The march from Byker was initiated by Newcastle’s Anti-Cuts Network, which local RCG activists are part of, under the banner of ‘Clegg Off!’. A sound-system led the march, and political music, placards, banners, speeches and leaflets attracted public attention, while a Palestinian and Cuban flag pointed to these countries leading roles in resisting imperialist capitalism. The open-megaphone was used to speak out against austerity and the British government’s attacks on the working class and oppressed around the world.

There was a heavy police presence throughout, including information gathering teams. One activist who refused to give his name when harassed by police was wrestled to the ground, followed by the police using force against many other protesters. One activist was arrested and taken away. The police continued to be vicious, driving a van at speed towards a pushchair with a small baby - activists shouted at the driver to stop, which he didn't, and demonstrators had to physically put themselves in front of the van, pulling the pushchair behind them. The march then went to the central police station to protest the arrests, despite attempts by leading members of the SWP and Counterfire to divert the march away from the police station to the TUC rally. The protest then continued to the conference, which was heavily guarded by police, who refused to let the march get too close.

The success of the march from Byker to the Lib Dem conference demonstrates that there are people prepared to resist the government’s austerity programme, but organization is needed to turn this potential into active resistance. This kind of resistance must continue, against all attempts to attack the working class. It must lay bare the interests of the ruling class, and defend every person attacked by the police for speaking out.

A 'Speak Out Against the Cuts!' has been organised in Byker, for Saturday 31st March 2012, 12-3pm to continue the fight.

We refuse to pay for the capitalist crisis!