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Marching against the cuts in Oxford

Player of Games | 12.02.2011 12:12 | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Oxford

People from all over Oxford come together today to protest against the government's cuts. The march, organised by Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance, will highlight the massive public opposition to the cuts.


Coverage of the march is at  http://ox4.org/~oimc/index.php

Player of Games
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- Homepage: http://ox4.org/~oimc/index.php

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Report of the march

12.02.2011 14:25

Shortly after 12 noon, several hundred people set off in a march against the cuts called by the Oxfordshire Anti-cuts Alliance. The crowd included anti-cuts groups, trade unions, students, and many others. They marched along Cowley Road with a samba band amongst them to create a carnival atmosphere. As the march crossed Magdalen Bridge, drivers tooted their horns in solidity, and many members of the public joined the marchers.

The march arrived at Bonn Square shortly after 1 o'clock. Various groups set up stalls, whilst the 500 demonstrators listened to rallying speeches from Ruskin College, NHS workers, and many others affected by the government's cuts that are being carried out nationally and locally.

Ian, spokesperson for Oxfordshire Anti-cuts Alliance, who called the march, said "It's brilliant that so many people from so many organisation came out to march. More and more people are getting involved in anti-cuts demonstrations. This is exactly what we need for the national demonstration on March 26. The bigger it is, the more chance we have of stopping the cuts."

Photos will be available soon.

Groups on the march included: Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance, Oxford Save Our Services, Oxford TUC, Buckingham Save Our Services, Unite, Ruskin College, Communication Workers' Union, Green Party, Oxford Labour Party, Make Wealth History, Cuts Are Nuts, Oxford Brookes University, Socialist Workers' Party, Save Temple Cowley Pools, Unison and several Save Libraries groups.

Player of Games


Photos from the march

12.02.2011 14:31

Getting ready to march
Getting ready to march

The band on Cowley Road
The band on Cowley Road

Arriving at the Plain on a sunny day
Arriving at the Plain on a sunny day

Crossing Magdalen Bridge ...
Crossing Magdalen Bridge ...

... and onto the High
... and onto the High

Sitting down at Carfax
Sitting down at Carfax

There's an idea!
There's an idea!

Rally at Bonn Square
Rally at Bonn Square

Photos from today's stop the cuts march

Player of Games


More photos from the march

13.02.2011 21:52










The photos from (and copyright of) Chris Honeywell (  http://www.working-images.co.uk/ ). See the full set of Chris's pictures at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/56045804@N03/sets/72157625906676905/detail/ (external site).

Player of Games


Comments

Hide the following 7 comments

missed opportunity

13.02.2011 12:04

The demo in Oxford reminded me of some of the fults with the plage the protest movement.
300ish people all marched nice and politely from the Cowley road in to oxford city centre, Union stewards, shouting at people to stay of the road, ( and also talking to young stewarts like shit) When the march got to the city centre, it missed a great opportunity to walk down cornmarket (main shopping street) also walked passed Topshop, banks etc without any fuss. Bloody stupid, we could have totally shut them down, Everyone walks nicely to Bonn Sq to listen to talks then buggers of home.
The thing is there were a number of younger people on the edges who would have been up for some direct action but needed a catalyst. Even the young group of Oxford anarchists failed to deliver. they were more interested in manning a stall handing out propaganda on Direct Action then taking part in it themself. On the plus side it was good to see some younger people on the march and a good turn out from the save local youth centres lot about 30 of them leading the march, I just worry that the Union lots will bore to death the new, young and angy protesters.

frustrated old git


wasted opportunity indeed

13.02.2011 14:45

Agree with the git (for the most part); it was pretty shameful that we had those kind of numbers on the streets and didn't make any use of them whatsoever.

Ian, spokesperson for Oxfordshire Anti-cuts Alliance, said "It's brilliant that so many people ... came out to march ... The bigger it is, the more chance we have of stopping the cuts."

FFS! Have these people learnt nothing in all their years of being politically active?!?! You can have a demo as big as you like, but if it just marches obediently, nothing will ever change!

Having said all that, a few comments.

"The thing is there were a number of younger people on the edges who would have been up for some direct action but needed a catalyst."

I have a suggestion. The samba band, Breach of the Peace, was discussing the possibility of splitting off and going to Cornmarket, but being a mixture of radicals and more lukewarm sympathisers they couldn't be persuaded. If more radicals and militants got involved in the samba band it would allow them to take a catalysing role in these kinds of situations. Then those less up for it could stand aside; obviously no-one would force them to do anything they weren't comfortable with, and there would be enough drummers without them.
Email: bopsamba at lists.riseup.net to get involved.

"Even the young group of Oxford anarchists failed to deliver. they were more interested in manning a stall..."

Not everyone involved in AiO (anarchists in oxford) was on the stall. Several were in the crowd agitating and trying to make something happen, they were just less visible! If some people in AiO are more into spreading propaganda in that kind of situation than agitating, I think that's fair enough, and you should DIY instead of trying to impose your priorities on someone else.

Finally, I think we should call a local day of action against the cuts so we can do the kind of stuff we think is effective, instead of only complaining about events that reformists have organised.

anon


Miserable sectarian commenting

13.02.2011 16:06

I heard the two OACA speakers make calls for strikes, and solidarity with strikers and occupiers and the encouragement to build a mass movement a la Tunisia and Egypt. Right to Work and Put People First made the same calls.

Of course the fact he didn't call for the burning of the banks and an immediate armed insurrection proves the OACA speaker is a moderate who will lead the movement down a blind alley.

I agree the anarchists they should organise something better if they can and I assume the attack on "reformists" means the anrchist organised event will be calling for revolution.

Is it a case that the commentators above think nothing was achieved yesterday - that it was a complete waste of time? Why did they turn up then? Clearly they hoped to "use" the numbers brought out for their own undeclared aims - but simply haven't won any numbers to their cause. In this sense they have the same problem as the people who actually organised the biggest anti-cuts demo in Oxford in response to the Tory austerity budget. They want much much more, but at elast they have a strategy to relate to and mobilise people.

I asume the anarchists will boycott the March 26 mass demo as it is being organised by moderate trade union leaders - after all mass demonstrations don't bring change - oh did someone mention Tunisisa and Egypt?

There is not one step to revoultion but a lot off twists and turns. Gathering the largest forces possible and winning them to the idea takes time, patience and strategy. Those sincerely trying to build opposition to the cuts (and they have been principled enough to refuse to fall into any debate about which services are more important, reject the idea of "sharing the library cuts out", or raising Tory introduce Park and ride fares to pay for libraries, and made it clear there should be no cuts and the rich should pay) should be debated with about tactics and strategy and link this to the ultimate need to overthrow the system. If they don't agree we should still organise to build the biggest movement posssible as this opens up the prospect of people changing what they think is posssible.

Being frustrated b the lack of development of forces to bring the changes we want to see and therefore slagging off the organisers of the main campaign in Oxford to organise any mass activity to challenge the cuts, bringing together different sections of the unions and communities, is a sectarian dead end.

Anon2


a needlessly long reply!

13.02.2011 18:08

"I heard the two OACA speakers make calls for strikes, and solidarity with strikers and occupiers and the encouragement to build a mass movement a la Tunisia and Egypt. Right to Work and Put People First made the same calls. Of course the fact he didn't call for the burning of the banks and an immediate armed insurrection proves the OACA speaker is a moderate who will lead the movement down a blind alley."

Now you're just being melodramatic and ridiculous. My complaint wasn't with what they were calling for. My issue is that whatever they advocate in theory, what they do in practice is to direct people's energies into ineffective forms of protest. Using stewards to control and harrass people, boring people to death with speeches; the whole format seems custom-made to be as ineffective as possible.

Of course, I recognise that the people who organise this type of event aren't deliberately trying to kill off the movement; they just have a different model of how social change occurs than I do. The difference is that I respect people's right to march obediently and listen to speeches if they want to, but I think there should be space for other things to occur as well. By holding endless speeches before and after the march the organisers make it harder for other things to occur. In this sense they are imposing their tactics on the rest of us.

"I agree the anarchists they should organise something better if they can and I assume the attack on "reformists" means the anrchist organised event will be calling for revolution."

FFS, more melodramatic sarcasm. For once we agree on something though; anarchists and other radicals (because anarchists are not the only ones dissatisfied with this type of event) should DIY, not just complain. Do I even need to point out that it isn't necessary for an event to 'call for revolution' in order to be empowering and effective?

"Is it a case that the commentators above think nothing was achieved yesterday - that it was a complete waste of time? Why did they turn up then?"

In the hope that something more inspiring might be possible, of course, and to show solidarity.

"Clearly they hoped to "use" the numbers brought out for their own undeclared aims - but simply haven't won any numbers to their cause."

If you mean "use" in a manipulative sense, then no, I wouldn't want people to do anything they weren't comfortable doing. What I meant by my original comment was that we, as a movement, could've had a much greater impact with those numbers if we'd gone for economic disruption.

"In this sense they have the same problem as the people who actually organised the biggest anti-cuts demo in Oxford in response to the Tory austerity budget. They want much much more, but at least they have a strategy to relate to and mobilise people."

It's a strategy that doesn't work. 2 million people marched against the Iraq war. Unless people back up their opposition with disruptive action nothing will change. Marches have a role in raising awareness, but OACA have shown no awareness of the need to turn this into action.

"I asume the anarchists will boycott the March 26 mass demo as it is being organised by moderate trade union leaders - after all mass demonstrations don't bring change - oh did someone mention Tunisisa and Egypt?"

Of course we won't boycott 26th March; we'll be there using it as an opportunity to find others who want to take disruptive action with us.

As for Tunisia and Egypt, how can you compare the energy, passion, determination and fighting spirit of those crowds with the obedient timid gathering in Oxford this weekend? Words fail me.

"There is not one step to revoultion but a lot off twists and turns. ... Those sincerely trying to build opposition to the cuts ... should be debated with about tactics and strategy and link this to the ultimate need to overthrow the system."

Yes! That's what we're doing, right now! No-one said the debate had to be mild or restrained :-)

"Being frustrated b the lack of development of forces to bring the changes we want to see and therefore slagging off the organisers of the main campaign in Oxford to organise any mass activity to challenge the cuts, bringing together different sections of the unions and communities, is a sectarian dead end."

Possibly. I think there is value in pointing out the weakness of those tactics, because in this country there is still the myth that change can come from those methods. However, I agree that ultimately we need to step up to the challenge and organise something better, rather than just criticise.

anon


Demo's don't transform the system - but do make a difference

14.02.2011 11:05

No-one is claiming demo's on their own are enough, hence the enouragement for occupations and strikes but they are part of mobilising and raising awareness of the bystanders that there is large scale opposition to the cuts building and raising confidence to take things further. Many who came will build a bigger movement and will go away with ideas about how to resist. Many people took materials to build 26th MArch. I think if it was put to them that we were organising a riot or smashing up a building they would not have done.

What is wrong with speeches? We need ideas to inform the movement and speakers from different organisations did that. If, like me, you arefamilar with the arguments you could do something else, but new people ned to hear some of the arguments.

The union pnes were short and loudly applauded. Some speakers crowbarred themsleves on at the end went on way to long (namely Oxford SOS with three pages of notes). But Anon is welcome to try and char in such circumstances when everyone and there dog wants to get on the platform.

The question is how to get from the low level of industrial militancy to the mass militant action.
Small groups of bank/Vodaphone occupiers have a great propaganda value but are not the answer in themselves.

Saying the OACA demo was less effective in addressing this gap because it caused less economic disruption than occupying a bank or vodaphone is ridiculous. The bankers got their bonuses and Vodaphone pays no more tax - what economic disruption? They lost a tiny fraction of a percent in profit they will take back from the workers in wage freezes, speed up and interest rates.

The argument being put forward is that a small demo in Vodaphone is better than 2 million on the street in opposition to the war which swung the majority against the war and de-legitmaised the warmongers. Even more ridiculuous!

Bank/vodaphone sit ins are brilliant because they achieve exactly what the OACA called demo did - raising awareness that there is growing opposition to the cuts, raising the confidence of demonstrators - but so far they have been small and relate to the most convinced militants. What about the mass of people who have yet to move for the first time? (and numbers matter here - who wants a small demo?)

OACA moved hundreds instead of tens of people into action, including youth workers, healthworkers, council workers, youth centre users, students and people on benefits - many for the first time who simply who simply did not want to do what the anarchists and radicals wanted on the day. The explanation can put forward of the anarchist and radical inability to get people to take up their strategy is to attack reformist" leaders when Anon has no clue of the politics of the OACA organisers.

Anon says the anarchists and radicals aren't calling for revolution (though later claims his comments are part of the debate about the right road to a revolution) - if not they are calling for reforms and are by definition "reformist" themselves. Holding a more militant protest does not stop stop you being a reformist - look at the suffragettes - they were militant to win one particular reform.

So why attack the demo organisers as "reformist" if it is not a question of reform or revolution? Anyway don't we welcome reforms and fight for them (and if you are a revolutionary you also show the limits by which capitalism can grant reforms and hence the need to overthrow it - WHILE FIGHTING ALONGSIDE REFORMISTS) or is it case of there is only the goal of revolution and no intervening step - such as winning the mass of people with reformist ideas to the support a revolution first.

OACA is wining the central argument that is essential to building a more effective movement - that we should not accept any cuts (unlike the Greens and SOS who want to make drivers pay rather than challenge the Tories agenda) and that we unite all the fights into a single push back against the government, using demonstrations, occupations and strikes. That this fight needs to unite trade unions, political groups, campaigners and user groups. Some groups in the Alliance are arguing for a general strike.

The 2 million against the war demo was effective in so far as it was Blair's death knell even if took a while for his polticial corpse to fall. It split the government and stopped the war being extended to Iran. It swayed the country against the war. On it's own it wasn't enough to stop the war, and the Stop the War Coalition tried to build on it for strikes that refused to move munitions, tanks and troops. No-one took up the call. Hardly the fault of the callers of the mass demonstration or an argument that it was "inneffective". The implied argument is that there is another route- but nothing positive is suggested. No route to the mass strikes that could have made the difference to the progress of the war, and could do so again to stop the cuts. Also Stoppingthe war was a reformist demand (in that it wasn't calling for the overthrow of capitalism but an adjustment under capitalism) - should the people who made that call be attacked for their "reformism"?

Anon claims he marched in solidarity with Saturdays protesters then reveals contempt for them by calling them "timid and obedient". They marched against the cuts and will build March 26, they carried slogans for general strike. On one hand youth club users are praised for turning out then accused of being "timid" etc.

No comparison was made between Oxford and Egyptian protests. The point being made was in response to Anon's claim that mass demonstrations are ineffective. The counter point was that the mass protest in Egypt helped transform the whole country and that Saturday's demonstration will help to build the national TUC demo on March 26, the size of which will help people realise their strength and unity and hopefully raise confidence for people to take part in the strikes needed to stop the cuts.

Oxford's trade unions have organised 15 coaches so far. OACA is working hard to fill them with the view that a huge tunout will put pressure on union leaders to go further, will help rally the majority against the cuts budget and give confidence to more people to fight back.

Anon and co need to do more than turn up in the hope of some kind of ruck, but seriously think about how they are going to mobilise thousands of people from Oxford and help convince them the next step is a general strike (and I don't think they will move thousands from Oxford with a plan for a riot).

Anon2


some calmer reflections

14.02.2011 22:57

I'll start by admitting I did use the term 'reformist' in a rather lazy, offhand way. I apologise for that. It may well be that many of the OACA organisers have revolutionary goals. Clearly we disagree quite a bit about which strategies and tactics are most useful for getting there though! I do think you've fixated quite a bit on my careless + lazy use of that one word, but I suppose that's understandable.

To point out another area of common ground, it seems that we both agree that occupations and strikes would be a fundamental part of any real social change.

However, I think that militant street actions are also important and can complement this; they provide a visible manifestation of people's anger and a sign that the rich and powerful are losing control, as well as contributing to economic disruption.

We also seem to agree that demos on their own will never be enough.

One difference seems to be that you seem to think that these type of demos will be help inspire occupations and strikes. I'm not so sure they will. I recognise that they can be valuable in terms of outreach/awareness-raising, and should have gone further to acknowledge that in my earlier comments, but I think they are fundamentally limited because they send out the message that this is a movement that does not have the guts to defy the authorities and do things on its own terms. I would even say they send out the message that this is not a movement (currently) capable of effecting change.

To explain why I think this is important: I think a lot of working class people feel disempowered and hopeless; they see the system is unjust, they don't need persuading of that because they experience it every day. But they don't believe change is possible. By choosing for ourselves what route we want to march on, which other actions we want to take on the way, etc, instead of being controlled by the authorities, we start to demonstrate that the system is not all-powerful and that change is possible. For some people that is a lot more inspiring than a straightforward demo that marches from A to B, and I think those are the people we should be reaching out to most.

Of course I recognise that there are also plenty of people who are put off by more disobedient or confrontational tactics. That's understandable. But because I believe that these tactics will ultimately be necessary in order to effect change, I think the answer is to try and work with these people (if they want) to help them overcome the practical and psychological barriers to this type of action. I don't think the answer is to avoid disobedient/confrontational tactics altogether. I think it's possible to have movements and events which have space for different levels of confrontation, different tactical options depending on people's preferences, and to do it in a way which is complementary ie the different tactics support each other.

My issue with the march this weekend was that it didn't do this. It didn't allow for different tactics, but directed people through a speeches-march-speeches routine without acknowledgement or space for other options to be presented. Of course, I didn't help organise it, so we're back at the same conclusion; time for radicals to DIY!

I think you have misrepresented me in a few places (eg of course I don't think a small vodaphone occupation is of more value than 2 million people marching against the war!) but as this reply is already long I'm going to stop here rather than reply point-by-point.

I'll finish by saying that although I have written with anger and frustration in places I do see us as being part of the same movement and being on the same side, which is worth reminding ourselves of from time to time! :)

anon


protest photography

15.02.2011 17:48

A question for Chris the photographer or any one that knows him who is reading this.
What is your interest in the anti-cuts movement? Is it personal or business?

Paranoid Paul


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