Over 100 trade unionists and local people marched through Plymouth yesterday for the May Day festival, despite the heavy rain. Drawing together activists from groups as diverse as Incineration is Wrong and the Socialist Party, the event was (for the most part) a great display of unity.
John McDonnell MP, one of Labour’s staunchest left-wing members of parliament, led the march with Tony Staunton, head of the Plymouth Trades Council. At least a dozen travelled down from Cornwall, including myself, and several from St Austell and Liskeard. The march through Plymouth picked up a lot of support from passers by, plus the constant beeping of car-horns in solidarity.
John spoke about the Con-Dem government’s slashing of pensions and jobs, which more and more are beginning to realise amounts to class-war. The rally at the Roland Lavinsky building also saw speakers from the Labour Party, the PCS and other groups.
Later on in the afternoon (when the weather had picked up – just our luck), Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine was screened in the university cinema. It was hugely eye-opening, and worth watching even if you’ve read the book. It outlines the right-wing tactic of utilising any crisis to impose unrestrained capitalism upon vulnerable countries – Iraq (more bombing in one day from US than whole of Gulf War), Russia (Chicago Boys and Yeltsin privatising industries at devastating speed), and pretty much all of Latin America. Most of it inspired by Milton Friedman. Thatcher’s attacks on the working-class were just a continuation of the ‘shock doctrine’, as well as Reagan’s ‘reforms’. And yes, we’re seeing it post-crash in Britain and the rest of Europe.
The day finished off with an anti-cuts gig at the Voodoo Lounge, which was a good laugh. Except the fact that the last train back from Plymouth on a Saturday is 9:55, cutting short the evening. Alas, denationalised rail services.
It’s a shame there isn’t a Cornwall TUC to organise something similar in Cornwall. Nonetheless, there are plenty of events coming up over the next few weeks to make up for it, most of which I’ll post on here.