CALLS are growing for a general election after thousands took to the streets in London at the weekend to demand an end to 12 years of Tory rule and austerity.
The Britain Is Broken demonstration organised by the People’s Assembly and supported by a coalition of trade unions and protest groups on Saturday also called out the government’s attempts to demonise asylum-seekers and refugees.
Speakers including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and RMT general secretary Mick Lynch addressed the crowd at Trafalgar Square.
Mr Lynch told the rally that rail strikes were “paused … but not over.
“We will strike and strike again until we bring them to the table and get a deal,” he said.
In a thinly veiled message to the Labour leadership, Mr Lynch continued: “To every politician that seeks to represent the workers in this country: you’ve got to sort out which side you’re on in these disputes.
“Do you sympathise and stand with the workers … or do you wait for your opportunity, trying to be neutral?
“There are no neutrals in this struggle.”
Trade union leaders representing civil servants, postal workers and teachers spoke of foodbanks being set up in places of work to support struggling staff.
Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts warned that government failures to uprate benefits in line with inflation would amount to a death sentence.
People with disabilities are now having to ration their energy use because they can’t afford to pay inflated energy bills, she said, adding: “This is having a horrendous impact.
“We say to the energy companies: we demand the energy profits are frozen, not people.”
Speakers also called for a general election to oust “cruel” Home Secretary Suella Braverman, describing her attacks on asylum-seekers as racist divide-and-rule tactics.
“They would have you believe that it’s immigrants and asylum-seekers who are to blame for all the problems of working people today,” Labour MP Diane Abbott told crowds. “It is this government that is allowing energy companies to rip us off.
“It is this government that is allowing water companies, the bank and privatised rail companies to rip us off.”
Speaking to the Morning Star after the rally, Ms Abbott said: “The Tories currently are pandering to anti-immigrant racist feeling.
“If they stay in power all the way till 2024, it’s just going to get worse.
“And it will be a frightening prospect for immigrants and the children of immigrants.”
Mr Corbyn told the Star that failure to kick out the Tories before the next general election in two years’ time would result in “more foodbanks … and more grotesque levels of inequality within our society.”
The government’s attempts to pass anti-trade union and anti-protest laws show “why the unity of all the groups opposing the government’s policies and the unions are very important,” he added.