Come to UK Uncut’s Anti-Austerity Street Party in London and Across the UK, Saturday May 26

18.5.12

Fed up with an artificial age of austerity, designed to destroy the welfare state and transfer every remaining function of the state — the NHS, education, land, property, even the police — into private hands? Fed up with being told by wealthy, out-of-touch Tories that “we’re all in this together,” when we clearly aren’t? Fed up of the nationalistic nonsense driving the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 35 years after the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” accurately demolished deference to the monarchy? Fed up with the corporate, militarised, jingoistic haemorrhaging of money for the Olympics?

Then you, my friend, need to attend UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party, next Saturday, May 26. As the anti-cuts direct action group explained last month in an announcement of the plans:

Let’s go on a journey back in time to the year 1948 …

Britain was emerging from a World War and had a huge national debt. Much bigger than the one we face today. Did we see painful cut backs and austerity measures? No, quite the opposite. We saw the birth of our National Health Service and the Welfare State. The UK was the first country to make health care, social care and financial security accessible to all.

1948 saw the launch of ground-breaking new laws designed to protect and care for everybody in our society, including universal unemployment benefits, universal child benefits, disability benefits, rights to housing and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1948: a year when the Olympics were last in town and — at last — the people of Britain were looking forward to the future. Britain back then really was ‘all in this together’. The future looked better than the past. So, we partied in the streets and dreamt of what we could achieve as people and as a country.

Fast forward to 2012 and things feel rather different. The government is not playing fair: its spending cuts are the deepest for decades and it’s cheating ordinary people by forcing them to suffer for an economic crisis they didn’t cause.

The government is also lying: it actively enables big business to dodge tax and slashes tax rates for the wealthy. Right now, for us, for ordinary people in this country, the future’s not what it used to be.

So now is the time to party like it was 1948. Street parties are going to be all the rage for the Queen’s Jubilee. But let’s make ours have a twist.

On Saturday 26th May join UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party to demand that we keep our public services, our rights and our welfare system and to celebrate a new future that isn’t dictated to us by a handful of millionaires but decided by us all — together.

Hold a street party where you live to celebrate the services that are under attack and resist their closure. Hold it in the road, the high street or on a roundabout and reclaim your future.

The future’s not what it used to be — let’s get it back.

*****

I hope you agree that the alternative street party is a good idea. Street parties are taking place in the following locations: Billingham, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth (also on Facebook), Central London (and here), Crawley, West Sussex (and here), Derby (and here), Islington, Leeds (and here), Manchester (and here), Newcastle Upon Tyne (and here), Nottingham (and here), Sheffield (and here — it’s outside Nick Clegg’s office!) and York (and see here).

There’s also still time to organise your own! Contact UK Uncut for further details.

In central London, numerous actions are planned, as follows:

UK Uncut’s Great London Street Party

The government is slashing our public services and making the most marginalised people in our society pay for an economic crisis they did nothing to cause. It doesn’t have to be this way. In 1948 the UK’s national debt was far larger than it is today, but instead of cutting services and hitting the poorest hardest the NHS and the Welfare State were born.

So forget the Queen’s Jubilee and join the only London street party worth going to this summer — UK Uncut’s Great London Street Party. Let’s celebrate the services that are being destroyed, take the fight to the streets and party for our future, a different future, a better future, that we can build together.

There are four blocks to choose from, starting in different places in central London. Pick which block you want to be in, get together with your friends, start preparing and be ready to join the action at 11am on Saturday 26 May.

The future’s not what it used to be … for women

In the 1940s, women were joining the work force in their thousands. In 1948, the introduction of the NHS meant that it wasn’t only privately insured men who could access healthcare. A few years later an act was passed that stated that women teachers and civil servants should receive equal pay. This group is for everyone who wants to fight the disproportionately devastating impact of the cuts on women. Whether its the closure of women’s refuges, sure start, sexual health clinics, unemployment — particularly from cuts to the public sector, cuts in housing benefits or health in pregnancy grants — to name but a few — it’s time to take action!

Meeting point: Outside 1 London Bridge

The future’s not what it used to be … for the National Health Service

In 1948 the Olympics were held in Britain and the National Health Service was born. There are few countries which provide free health care for everyone in the country. From tummy ache to tuberculosis, the NHS has people who will look after you for free. The NHS is very special and worth fighting for — yet it’s being dismantled and sold off despite massive opposition from the public and healthcare professionals. This group is for anyone who works in or cares about the NHS.

Meeting point: Opposite University College Hospital, Euston Road

The future’s not what it used to be … for the Welfare State

In 1945, it was thought that the government should care for people ‘from cradle to grave’. It was seen as important to make sure that people had food, shelter, health and education so that society was more equal. That’s what the Welfare State was set up to achieve. But today the Welfare State is under attack. The cuts to Disability Living Allowance, Education Maintenance Allowance and Job Seekers Allowance are massive and are particularly damaging for disabled people, people on low incomes, students, single parents, women, children, the unemployed and ethnic minorities. If you get angry every time a politician says the words ‘benefits scrounger’ — this is the group for you. This is the most accessible bloc for the party. In order to maintain access, disabled participants have the option of travelling via a more accessible route that is direct and reduces changing modes of transport. We have checked our travel plans with disabled activists and can provide accessible transport from Waterloo to the party. So, if you’ve got any specific needs or you’re concerned about travel on the day, please email us so we can make arrangements for everyone.

Meeting point: Waterloo Station Concourse

The future’s not what it used to be … for real democracy

The government’s assault on our future is being dictated to us by a pack of rich and powerful tax dodgers, bankers and politicians who handsomely reward themselves and their friends while ruining our future. Whether you’re angry about the UK fighting unjust wars, building new nuclear weapons, refusing to tackle climate change or helping big business decide key policies, you’ll probably agree that democracy in the UK is in pretty bad shape. But it does not have to be this way. We can decide our future together, we can and must talk and work together, debate, plan and take action. This is the block for people who may want to plan a people’s assembly to talk about a future that we decide.

Meeting point: Parliament Square

We’re going to party for a while, so make sure you’re prepared for the day. Dress up with your vision of the past, the present or our future — bring some food to share, bring your mates, bring outdoor games and be ready for a very different kind of street party …

In an update last week, UK Uncut gave the following advice:

Things to bring!

  • A Zone 1-6 off peak day travel card so you can get to the secret party location (£8.50, best bought in cash)
  • Food — it wouldn’t be a street party without plenty of food to share
  • Water — you’re going to be out all day, so make sure you’re prepared with lots of water
  • Friends! — bring all your mates to this party, the more the merrier
  • Costumes — dress up for the day, your vision of the past, the future, or the services closest to your heart that are facing cuts — make it fun and spectacular!
  • Games & fun — we’re going to be out in the street all day, so bring fun games, instruments and things to do while we’re there
  • All the family — this should be a good day out for all ages from newborns to great grandparents. The Welfare and Women’s blocs are the most accessible for people with push chairs or wheel chairs. Please bring everything you need with you for a full day out, like a folding chair or pillow and the possibility of some standing, walking, dancing and stories of the past and of the future to share.
  • Waterproofs, warm clothes, sunscreen and a hat — you just never know!
  • Your rights — we never know what police reaction will be like, please come prepared with information from Green and Black Cross.
  • Tons of enthusiasm and energy — needed for partying, thinking, making new friends and creating a better future.

Don’t bring:

  • Bikes — you may need to leave them behind for a little while (up to you)
  • Dogs (except guide dogs) — not everyone is a fan
  • Loads of booze — Quite apart from the possibility of limited toilets and overpriced bags of salted peanuts at the action, alcohol will dehydrate you very quickly (and may well turn you into a liability for others)
  • Huge things or heavy things — make sure you’re able to move around fairly easily and get on public transport.

*****

And finally, for further encouragement, below is the video produced for UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party, featuring Rahel (age 6) and Shirley (age 81). As UK Uncut explain:

Rahel isn’t new to UK Uncut, her first occupation was back in February 2011. She helped us transform Natwest Camden branch into a creche to protest against the cuts to childcare services. Rahel’s holiday club is closing down because Camden Council cuts, so she’ll be there on the 26th May to fight for her future (hopefully she’ll have mastered the art of making ‘balloon cake’ by then).

Shirley you may recognise from another UK Uncut video, Shirley is 81 years old and has been campaigning to save the NHS for many years. She recently got carried away (literally) whilst unelected Lords voted on Lansley’s disasterous Health & Social Care Bill and says the fight ain’t over yet.

Here’s the video — warning: it starts with David Cameron, but he soon buggers off, unlike in real life! — and I hope to see you next Saturday!

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

2 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Mezentian Gate wrote:

    Some prefer their pleasure at another man’s expense..
    others like inducing pain

    Neither are appropriate in a civilised society

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Mezentian. Yes, I agree …

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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