Blog Archive

Monday 17 June 2013


BARAC UK is one of the organisations involved in and speaking at the People's Assembly which is taking place this Saturday at Westminster Central Hall.  Please see below for more details including a video of Co-Chair of BARAC, Zita Holbourne speaking at the Press Conference launching the Assembly, the schedule for the day, draft statement and supporting organisations.

Watch Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair of BARAC speak at the launch event here  



Saturday, June 22 2013
9:00 - 10:00
Location: Main hall
10:00 - 10:45
Location: Main hall
Opening plenary
11:00 - 12:15
Location: Main hall
Tactics for the anti-austerity movement
A wide variety of tactics including strikes, mass demonstrations, direct action, legal action and online organising have already been put to good use in the anti-austerity movement. In this session, with plenty of input from the floor, we'll consider the strengths and weaknessess of these different forms of action and brainstorm ideas for how they can be joined up in the future to maximise impact.
Location: Side hall 1
Tackling the housing crisis
Location: Marquee 1
What cuts are doing to emergency services, local government and the communities they serve
The government aims to cut 30% of local council budgets by 2015. Big cuts are also hitting emergency services. In a few years time, councils may only provide social services, street cleaning and refuse collection, whilst privatisation, of the sort happening in Barnet, has implications for local democracy. What action can we take to defend our local services?
12:45 - 2:00
Location: Main hall
Protecting the NHS: stopping cuts, privatisation and closures
This session, hosted by Keep Our NHS Public, raises the importance of the move to privatise the NHS. The Coalition's 2012 Health and Scoal Care Act forces local health commissioners, the Clinical Commissioning Groups, to put services out to tender. John Lister's political analysis shows why this is happening and who gains, GP Dr David Wrigley talks about how it is affecting patients and what you can do to influence your CCG, and Gill George calls for fellow NHS workers to back resistance. Dr Wendy Savage, President of KONP, will chair the session.
Location: Side hall 1
Welfare not Warfare
The government is spending billions on war in Afghanistan while it wields the austerity axe on benefits, housing, health and education. Spending on the Trident nuclear submarine system is protected while libraries close and public sector workers see wage cuts. The wars of the past decade have had a terrible cost in human life and money, yet the government is planning to intervene again. How can we ensure money currently spent on arms and war is instead used to create equality and justice here and abroad?
Location: Marquee 1
Stand up against the cuts: comedy and performance
Comedy and performance from some of the UK's most passionate and politically-engaged performers, including Mark Thomas, Josie Long and the Birmingham poet laureate.
2:15 - 3:30
Location: Side hall 1
Defending our welfare state
The Welfare State was created 65 years ago by a Labour government swept to office by millions who had fought in a war and then wanted to fight poverty. They did not want a return to the 30s. Deep austerity is bringing back mass poverty while the rich are getting richer. How can we recapture the “spirit of 45” of social solidarity to fight for our welfare state, public services, and the NHS? Clips from Ken Loach’s new film “The Spirit of 45” will be shown.
Location: Marquee 1
Protecting public education
With youth unemployment at an all-time high, privatisation hitting schools, colleges and universities and life-long leaning looking like a thing of the past, this session seeks to reflect on the consequences of the attacks on public education and to discuss how we can unite in defence of it. Speakers will address the riots of summer 2011, teachers’ strike action, university student occupations and the battle to bring back the education maintenance allowance, with plenty of time for contributions from the floor.
Location: Marquee 2
The Hardest Hit
3:45 - 5:00
Location: Main hall
Closing plenary

Draft Statement

The proposed declaration and action plan of the People’s Assembly

The declaration below represents the beginning of a democratic process leading towards a second People’s Assembly in early 2014. This declaration represents the views of all those who initially called for the People’s Assembly. We hope it will be endorsed by the People’s Assembly on 22nd June. It will then be open to the local People’s Assembly’s, union bodies and campaign groups who support the People’s Assembly to suggest amendments, additions, or deletions. These will then all be discussed and decided upon at the recall People’s Assembly in 2014.

The plans for action are simply the most obvious rallying points for a national anti-cuts movement for the remainder of 2013. They are not intended to supersede local or sectional action by existing campaigns or trade unions. They are intended to be focus national, collective action by the whole anti-austerity movement.

The People’s Assembly, meeting in Westminster Central Hall, declares:
We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.
We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for over more than 50 years.
We do not accept that government’s austerity programme is necessary. The banks and the major corporations should be taxed at a rate which can provide the necessary resources. Austerity does not work: it is a failure in its own terms resulting in neither deficit reduction nor growth. It is not just: the government takes money from the pockets of those who did not cause the crisis and rewards those who did. It is immoral: our children face a bleaker future if our services and living standards are devastated. It is undemocratic: at the last election a majority voted against the return of a Tory government. The Con-Dem coalition has delivered us into the grip of the Tories’ whose political project is the destruction of a universal welfare state.
We therefore choose to resist. We refuse to be divided against ourselves by stories of those on ‘golden pensions’, or of ‘scroungers’, or the ‘undeserving poor’. We do not blame our neighbours, whatever race or religion they maybe. We are not joining the race to the bottom. We stand with the movement of resistance across Europe.
We are clear in our minds that our stand will require us to defend the people’s right to protest, and so we support the right of unions and campaigns to organise and take such action as their members democratically decide is necessary.
We stand with all those who have made the case against the government so far: in the student movement, in the unions, in the many campaigns to defend services, the NHS, and in the Coalition of Resistance, the People’s Charter, UK Uncut, the environmental movement and the Occupy movement.
We do not seek to replace any organisations fighting cuts. All are necessary. But we do believe that a single united national movement is required to challenge more effectively a nationally led government austerity programme.
We have a plain and simple goal: to make government abandon its austerity programme. If it will not it must be replaced with one that will.
We will concentrate on action not words. We aim to provide the maximum solidarity for unions and other organisations and others taking action. We support every and all effective forms action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.
Our case is clear. The government’s austerity programme does not work; it is unjust, immoral and undemocratic. Alternatives exist. Debts can be dropped. Privatisation can be reversed and common ownership embraced. A living wage can begin to combat poverty. Strong trade unions can help redistribute profit. The vast wealth held by corporations and the trillions held by the super rich in tax havens can be tapped. Green technology, alternatives to the arms industries, a rebuilt infrastructure including growth in manufacturing are all desperately needed. We are fighting for an alternative future for this generation and for those that come after us.
Proposed actions:
The People’s Assembly will support every genuine movement and action taken against any and all of the cuts. We support all current industrial actions by the unions. We encourage and will help to organise the maximum solidarity action with the PCS and teaching union members taking strike action the week after the People’s Assembly, as well as with other action by unions planned for the autumn.
Peoples Assemblies against the cuts should be organised in towns and cities across our nations, bringing all those fighting the cuts together into a broad democratic alliance on a local basis.
The national and the local Assemblies, in partnership with Trades Unions, Trades Councils, campaigning and community groups, can unite our movement and strengthen our campaigns. Local Assemblies will help us to organise a recalled National Assembly to review our work in the early spring of 2014.
We will work together with leading experts and campaigners both here and abroad, and friendly think tanks, to develop rapidly key policies and an alternative programme for a new anti-austerity government. We will continue to welcome support from all who fight the cuts.
We will call a national day of civil disobedience and direct action against austerity.
We will call a day of co-ordinated local demonstrations in the early autumn.

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