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Mayday Parade – A tribute to the fallen left

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Several hundred protesters descended on central London today to mark International Workers Day. The march came after the 48-hour walk out by some staff at London Underground.

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Many in the parade held banners commemorating the late former leader of the RMT, Bob Crow, as well as signs remembering Tony Benn who also passed away this year. Both men were heavily referenced in the speeches with Martin Gould head of the south and eastern division of the TUC declaring: “Both Bob and Tony would have been here with us on this podium, fighting for every single one of you”.

 

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The RMT union were joined by a wide variety of different groups from across the political left. International Workers Day is marked across Europe in many ways and is attributed to the actions by workers in Chicago in 1886, known as the Haymarket affair where workers demanded an 8 working day. The protest started at Clerkenwell Green and moved through central London with a police escort to Trafalgar Square passing by the Unite offices on the way. 

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The march proceeded to Trafalgar Square where the march was addressed by a number of prominent people on the left. Following the recent deaths of Bob Crow and Tony Benn, two of the left’s most important figures, much was made of continuing their memory in order to promote socialism in the UK. Natasha Hoarau, daughter of the late Bob Crow, said that the movement should continue its campaigns for equality for the working class. Current president of the RMT Union Peter Pinkney said that in order to help the ‘dispossessed’ in the UK a General Strike should be called.

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Pandeia also spoke to Israfil Erbil of the Britain Alevi Federation who are from Turkey. He said that the current events in Turkey were worrying and that the group stand in solidarity with workers in the UK. The Alevi Federation reflected the anger and dissent that has been commonplace in Turkey today, he said: “We stand today in solidarity with our brothers in Turkey who are fighting against a dictatorship regime. If it continues the way it is, young people in Turkey will have to rise up and a civil war will take place. We are happy to be here amongst workers in London, fighting for our rights.” 

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With every left-wing group imaginable all here under their respective banners, one parade member told Pandeia that she was happy to see so much solidarity from the usually disparate UK left. 

As the speeches drew to a close there was a general feeling of goodwill amongst all participants as they were urged by leaders of all the unions to go back to their regions with renewed vigour in the fights against cuts.

 

Words by Jamie Timson and Greg Bianchi

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