More than 2,000 people protest outside Lib Dem conference to register anger at coalition cuts

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Trade unionists will fight “tooth and nail” to protect public services, Frances O’Grady told a rally outside the Lib Dem conference yesterday.

More than 2,000 protestors assembled in Birmingham to register their anger at the Lib Dem’s role in the Coalition Government.

They believe the government’s current economic strategy is producing rising unemployment, cuts in living standards and economic stagnation – all of which are hampering the deficit.

O’Grady, the TUC’s Deputy General Secretary, said: “We are sending a powerful message to the Lib Dems and to the government that we are strong and united, that we will fight their savage cuts, and that we will not let them destroy people’s jobs, services and livelihoods.

“But we are not just gathering here to send a message to the politicians, nor just to register our opposition to austerity, but also to offer our support to the Midlands.

“We show our solidarity to the workers at Bombardier and the people of Derby as they fight to save their jobs, communities and industry. The award of the Thameslink rolling stock contract to competitors in Germany is hitting jobs and business not only at Bombardier’s plant in Derby, but among their suppliers throughout the UK.

“Now let us show the people of the Midlands and beyond that there is a positive, progressive alternative to the government’s brutal cuts. A fairer, better, more effective alternative: keeping people in work, keeping our economy growing, keeping tax revenues flowing, and ensuring that those with the broadest shoulders start paying their fair share of tax – so that the bankers, traders and speculators who caused this crisis cough up for the mess they left behind.

“Where better to start than with a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions? Austerity is not the answer. None of us share George Osborne’s fondness for unnecessary pain. Just because it’s hurting doesn’t mean it’s working.

“The economy is scraping along the bottom, and the risk of a double-dip recession is getting even larger. Unemployment is rising, with this region hit harder than any other. Public services are being slashed, with the most vulnerable suffering grievously, and privatised with reckless abandon by right-wing ideologues whose sole aim is to shrink the size of the state.

“Nowhere is the threat graver than to our health service. Today, let us say no to the privateers and profiteers. Our NHS is not for sale. If ministers get their way, we risk creating an even more unfair, unequal society – and what happened here in Birmingham, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton last month ought to act as a wake-up call to us all.

“We cannot abandon an entire generation to the scrap heap as we did in the 1980s. Our young people don’t need lectures about morality, they need jobs, opportunities and prospects, and a sense of hope about their future.

“We need to resist this government’s tide of social and economic destruction. We need to set out the case for our alternative, and win the public to our cause. We’ve got to reach out to those millions of people who share our vision of a fairer society and our belief in social and economic justice.

“In the spring we held our hugely successful March for the Alternative – and now is the time to build a movement for the alternative. A mass movement so strong, so diverse, so united that no politician or political party can ignore us. A movement of unions, community organisations, charities and activists – anyone and everyone who believes that cuts are not the answer to Britain’s problems.

“Let us use our unprecedented day of action at the end of November to show the people out there that we really mean business, that we will fight for workers in the public and private sectors alike, that we will fight tooth and nail for the public services that bind us all together.

“Let today be the start of that process here in the Midlands and let this region, this proud industrial powerhouse, this union heartland, lead the way as we build this massive mobilisation for change.

“Let us say to the people of Birmingham, the people of the Midlands and the people of Britain – if you share our opposition to the government’s agenda, then join us. If you believe in a better alternative, then campaign with us. And if you want to stop these cuts, then fight with us and together we will win.”


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