Members of NLSF from east London took part in the march against cuts in Newham being imposed by a Labour-run council.
Around 150 people marched on the last day of February in the cold and rain to voice their opposition to local cuts, of which £100million were voted through at the council meeting. This means the loss of thousands of public sector jobs, community centre closures, cuts in the voluntary sector and care for the elderly.
Newham against the cuts is an independent anti-cuts group, but many of the leftists present seemed hopelessly stuck in the 1980s, shouting against the 'Tory Cuts!' and maintaining a stifling and defeatist attitude, even sticking to the pavements so as not to disrupt the traffic.
Three members of SolFed were joined by an IWW member as the protest wound its way to the town hall, where a very small visible police presence was backed up by a slightly larger group of strong men. When the Labour mayor, Sir Robin Wales, walked past saying there was nothing he could do about the situation, the leftist and reformist-dominated crowd implored him not to make ‘Tory Cuts!’; they were duly ignored.
One could hear grumbles even amongst the non-anarcho crowd about storming the Town Hall, and learning from what the workers were doing in Wisconsin. Some demonstrators hovered around a set of side doors, but learnt that they did not lead to the same part of the building as the main entrance. All the while the grinning paper sellers of the SWP seemed content that their stall had been the only one at the Town Hall. By chance the SolFed members bumped in to an ex-member who had decided to get involved again, which, for us at least, ended things on a high note.
The protest was by no means as effective as other demonstrations that night, most notably at Camden, but hopefully more militants and people disgruntled with leftist dogma will be more disruptive in the future. Even then though, protests can only achieve so much. Their development in to an economic blockade is a necessity, and something an increasing number of SolFed members are advocating. It is up to us and like minded workers to agitate amongst the rank and file and ignore the TUC bureacrats if we are to have any chance of defeating the cuts, the bosses, and the whole rotten system.