Celebrating our struggles

The Liverpool dockers are saying “good riddance to the Tories” with a Carnival for Social Justice in Central London on April 12. “Our aim,” according to the Liverpool Port Shop Stewards’ secretary Jimmy Nolan, “is to celebrate our struggles and send a signal to any incoming government that we are not relying on parliamentary elections to defend our right to social justice”. The route echoes the great Chartists’ march of 1848, which also set out from Kennington Common. Dressed as 19th century Chartists, a delegation of dockers’ children will present the ‘People’s Charter for Social Justice’ at Number 10, Downing Street. It will be a noisy occasion; we won’t let Blair pretend he did not hear.

April 12 marks the beginning in Britain of Euromarch 1997 - a series of marches across Europe which converge on Amsterdam in mid-summer.

For the past six weeks, planning meetings have been involving the Magnet workers, Hillingdon hospital strikers and a wide array of groups representing not only trade unionists but also pensioners, people with disabilities, the homeless, refugees, asylum seekers and environmentalists among others.

This will not be a police-led plod through the streets but an assertive display of our own class solidarity and power. A huge red banner from Japan will join the march, signed by dockers from the 50 Japanese ports which took solidarity action with Liverpool on January 20. Thirty-two Campaign Group London MPs have pledged to walk the route. The spirit of miners will be heard as the Merton Colliery Band strikes up as we set off. A wide coalition of environmentalist organisations have been mobilising independently under the slogan, ‘Never Mind the Ballots - Reclaim the Streets!’. Confident of a large turnout, they have signalled that an ‘RTS-style event’ is to be expected at some point during the weekend.

The assembly point for the April 12 start of the EuroMarch and Carnival for Social Justice is Kennington Park, 12.00 noon; we then proceed to Lambeth Bridge, across the Thames, past the Houses of Parliament and then up to Whitehall. Those not wishing to march the whole route are invited to join at Lambeth Bridge at around 1.30pm. At Trafalgar Square, there will not just be speeches but a celebration. Remember - this is your chance to send a strong signal to any incoming government. So let them know we’re here, and make it victory to the dockers.

Chris Knight
London Support Group for the Liverpool Dockers