The People’s Assembly demo reflected the level of anger against May – and the new hopes people are placing in Jeremy Corbyn.
The Not One Day More march, called by the People’s Assembly for 1 July, was a major success. Some 50 to 60 thousand people marched through central London demanding an end to Theresa May’s government. The political situation is fundamentally changed since the last big anti-Tory demo. The Tory government, after May’s election disaster, is deeply unstable. Only this morning the Guardian published an article headlined “Top Tories in revolt against May over public spending” while Telegraph columnist Simon Heffer argues that “Tory has-beens and rebellious ministers are playing into Jeremy Corbyn’s hands“. This is a divided government in a state of continuous crisis. On top of that, they have to make progress in the Brexit negotiations – where they are up against EU negotiators determined to strike a harsh deal which deters any other members from following Britain’s lead. They are in a catastrophic position.
The success of Jeremy Corbyn is the second factor in this transformed situation. On Saturday chants of “oh, Jeremy Corbyn” rang through the demonstration. As well as national and local union banners and those of local campaigns, there were also local Labour Party banners, Momentum banners and Labour placards. John McDonnell and Diane Abbott joined the protest, while Corbyn himself spoke from the stage. Many people also brought along home-made placards that expressed their anger on topics from education cuts to the DUP deal. Anger at the Grenfell fire and the treatment of the residents since was a theme throughout the demo.
Those placards reflect local campaigns going on around the country – against NHS cuts, education cuts and gentrification of council estates, and in defence of migrants and our multicultural society. The Tories have imposed austerity in every area of life. They have made possible a huge and united anti-Tory movement – everyone has a reason to fight back against them. Such a movement could bring them down. Back in 1990, a wave of protests over the Poll Tax – including local meetings, marches, lobbies and a huge protest in central London – led to the resignation of Thatcher. There’s potential for a similar movement now, which could get rid of May in a matter of months.