Firefighters join anti-war demo

Some 1,000 attended the successful 'No to privatisation, racism and war' demonstration in Newcastle on Saturday November 2. It was called by the Newcastle Public Services Alliance, which contains comrades from the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, Unison members and those active in both the Socialist Alliance and the Tyneside Socialist Forum. The march through central Newcastle included anti-war activists from groups such as Teesside Against War and the local muslim community, anti-privatisation community workers and anti-racism campaigners prominent in the local SA. It ended with a rally at Northumbria University with speakers from the labour and peace movements. The most vocal and visible presence on the march were the members of the Fire Brigades Union in the north-east. One interesting aspect of the demonstration was the overwhelmingly left character of the march. The Socialist Party had a large contingent and there were some Socialist Appeal sellers seemingly doing well. One surprise was the low visibility of the Communist Party of Britain. The Durham Miners Gala showed the CPB still has some influence up here, but the Gala had been their main focus and they obviously had better things to do on this occasion. Many activists were surprised at the Socialist Workers Party presence on both the march and in the rally. There were recruiting stalls everywhere - but of course to the SWP rather than the SA. They were surprised because the SWP had done next to nothing to actually build for the march in the first place. Apart from a couple of banners the SA presence was minimal - partly because it has more or less been closed down up here by the SWP. One of the groups attracting most interest was the Tyneside Socialist Forum, an umbrella group predating the SA, consisting of activists and academics who have a long history up here. Their politics were pretty dodgy but their cultural work up here in local galleries and cinemas is well respected and is anti-sectarian in terms of the activists it attracts. Unfortunately they are mired in the worst aspects of green socialism and 'new-leftism' and present no credible alternative to the partyist project within the SA. All the more depressing, then, that the SA is apparently doing so little at the moment. CPGB comrades sold 30 copies of the Weekly Worker and distributed a large number of leaflets. One important aspect of the day was developing contacts within the SA and ensuring that the SA project was held up as the way to move beyond the fractured vanguard of our class - a fractured vanguard which was so apparent on the march and in the rally. Martyn Hudson