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Anti-cuts May Day in Exeter
On May Day bank holiday Exeter played host to a vibrant and up-beat anti-cuts demonstration. The demonstration was the biggest Exeter has seen since the anti-war movement.
Organised by the Exeter Anti-Cuts Alliance, in which the Socialist Party plays a leading role, the demonstration featured a march and rally. 400 people attended and the day was supported by NUT, Unison, UCU, Unite, CND, and Stop the War among others.
There was a clear feeling that this demonstration was against all cuts, local and national, and there was a real desire for people to hear the alternative.
Socialist Party members Rob Williams (from the National Shop Stewards Network) and Mark Baker (PCS) both explained the alternative to Con-Dem austerity, getting a good reception from the crowd.
Rob raised the need for coordinated trade union strike action on 30 June, which prompted a number of Unison members to question, there and then, their full-time official about why they were not balloting for strike action.
Mark made the point that the anti-cuts movement should not promote "people who speak against the cuts in anti-cuts meetings but then go and vote them through in the council chamber".
The applause he got will not go unnoticed by the Labour councillors who were hiding at the back, who have been voting through a £2.5 million cuts package.
Mark McSheehy, chair of the Exeter Anti-Cuts Alliance also spoke, concentrating his comments on the Tories' NHS privatisation plans.
The demonstration was followed by a "make your vote count" hustings hosted by the PCS. As a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election candidate I was able to put forward a socialist alternative to the cuts and show how TUSC is the only formation that is against all cuts.
Even the Greens admitted that they would put up parking charges in the city, while the Labour city council leader, Pete Edwards, didn't even bother to turn up.
A Rock Against the Cuts gig followed, the proceeds of which will go to the PCS Youth Network and the Exeter Anti-Cuts Alliance.
Video of event