BBC News, 15 April 2013). And yet, resistance is fragmented and weak. A coherent, united movement against austerity has not emerged in the UK. On 18 May 2013, a People’s Assembly Against Austerity will be held in Nottingham. In this post, I will discuss the importance of local People’s Assemblies for the revival of resistance to austerity in the UK. In particular, I will highlight four reasons: (1) the collapse of resistance at the national level; (2) the importance of a broad space to bring together the diverse groups and people opposed to austerity; (3) the fact that the impact of cuts is felt at the local level; and (4) the need to unite various existing local movements of resistance.
|Photo by Aspex Design|
|Photo by Aspex Design|
Moreover, it is the local level, where cuts are felt. The closure of a hospital or a public library, the transformation of local schools into academies, the restructuring of GP surgeries, these are all changes affecting people directly in their day to day lives. Unsurprisingly, it is also the local level, where people are most likely prepared to become involved in activities of resistance. People’s Assemblies can provide the vehicle to energise these people.
Finally, local and regional People’s Assemblies can provide the forum for the co-ordination of the already existing movements against austerity. Importantly, local initiatives to defend the NHS, against the introduction of academies or against cuts to disability allowances already exist in many parts of the country. Frequently, however, they are single issue initiatives. This plays into the hands of government, which attacks one individual sector after the other. Local People’s Assemblies can provide the space for these individual initiatives to compare their analyses and to prepare joint activities. After all, austerity, restructuring and privatization are behind the attacks on all the various areas of the public sector, and while individual government policies may differ significantly, the underlying rationale is the same. Ever larger parts of the public sector are restructured and opened up to private capital. Local People’s Assemblies provide the opportunity to bring these individual initiatives together into one more coherent voice of opposition, able to contest austerity successfully.
Of course, local People’s Assemblies in themselves will not solve the problem. National co-ordination is required to fight back at the level of government. Local People’s Assemblies can, however, provide the necessary pressure on national trade union leaders and other movements to spring into action and provide the leadership against austerity this country and its people deserve.