Miliband to speak at 26th March rally

by Daphne Liddle

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband is to speak at the rally at the end of the massive TUC march against the cuts on 26th March. He is not expected to take part in the march and is only one of a very long list of speakers.

But his participation in the event will attract a larger media coverage, more publicity for the event and hopefully a wider attendance.

It will be the first time a Labour leader has appeared at a public demonstration for decades and certainly something that neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown would have dreamed of doing.

Miliband is no left-winger but he is under mounting pressure from the anti-cuts movement that is springing up all around this country — and in many countries abroad — as workers start to feel the impact of the banking crisis two years ago.

Furthermore Miliband’s shadow cabinet colleague Peter Hain sent out a message on Twitter to say: “Will be joining TUC massive March 26th protest in London against the cuts. Hope you do too.”

dustbin

The “New Labour” concept has been consigned to the dustbin of history now; the party has dropped the word “new” from all its stationery, its websites and will soon be gone from email addresses.

Miliband is anxious to distance himself from that era; we must keep up the pressure to ensure the change is real and not just cosmetic.

Union leaders are also coming under heavy pressure from their members. Some would have preferred a one-off protest and then forget about it until the next election and pin hopes on getting a Labour government.

But they have been called on to speak at dozens of meetings up and down the country in the build up to the 26th and whatever they told those meetings, we can be sure those present will have made their feelings known.

beginning

We must not let them get away with the idea that the 26th March is the culmination of the fight. It is just the beginning. As John McDonnell MP, leader of the Labour Representation Committee, told a south London rally two weeks ago, this Government must be brought down and quickly.

Otherwise million of vulnerable, low paid workers and pensioners will suffer a dramatic fall in their living conditions with the sick and long-term disabled set to face the harshest cuts. And with legal aid and citizens advice facing huge cuts we will have no recourse to defend ourselves except on the streets in marches, demonstrations and strikes. We cannot wait for another general election to change the Government, too much will be cut and lost by then. We have no option but to fight and to insist the trade unions fight by every means possible.

And the presence of Miliband and Hain at the rally under the TUC “March for the Alternative: Jobs, Growth, Justice”, is evidence that pressure from below is working.