Some deride the movement and call it a cult, but that belittles the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who are now, with one voice demanding change.
In their thousands they came. Carrying home-made placards, they came. Women pushing prams, their kids in tow, the young, middle-aged and old, black, white, disabled, the old left and the newly awoken; in the pouring rain they came. They filled St George’s Plateau and still they came, until they filled the road and the central reservation and the pavements beyond. 10,000 strong they closed Lime St, stopped traffic, and still they came.
This is a movement, a mass outpouring that demands, no, deserves to be heard. “Not the usual crowd,” said a friend. That’s us I thought. I’m part of the ‘usual crowd’. The old left. Veteran’s of struggles past. We were there alright, but this time to simply bear witness. This is a spontaneous movement. Some deride it and call it a cult, but that belittles the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who are now, with one voice demanding change. These people turned out tonight, not for one man, but for hope, for a vision of a better way, and an end to the politics of the few and the demonisation of the many.
Recently those in the media, sadly including people like Owen Jones, have decried the use of social media in shaping this movement. However, in the absence of main stream coverage, we have had no choice but to turn to alternative forms of communication. We would not know each other existed, if we didn’t; such is the black-out from official outlets. Sharing our stories, supporting each other, preaching to the converted are all important steps in strengthening and emboldening our movement, and this is precisely why 10,000 people closed down Liverpool city centre tonight. We have gained confidence from each other’s successes.
The people of Liverpool were inspired by their comrades in York, Hull, Leeds, Salford, Newcastle, Plymouth and Cornwall this weekend, and tonight we have doubtless inspired countless others. I have always been proud of my city. It is a place of solidarity, of hope and of determination. Tonight it was one of many cities joined in a nationwide campaign for socialism. We will all never walk alone.
This is how you build a movement. This is how you win hearts and minds. Now is not the time for faint hearts, or for Fleet Street lectures. We knew it was going to be bloody hard. Frankly it’s always been that way. The powerful won’t surrender without a battle, and while some run from the fight, hurling catastrophic prophesies as they flee, let history show that it was us that stood strong. It was we who built momentum, gave each other succour and encouragement. When others ran away, in our thousands we came to change society.
So don’t tell me this is insignificant. I won’t hear that these demonstrations mean nothing, and I don’t believe that change is impossible. This is new territory. The rules are being rewritten. 1983, 1997 and 2010 are ancient history. This is 2016. It’s the old ideas about politics that are irrelevant, not this glorious, magnificent uprising. We are rewriting the rules as we go, and nobody can truly predict what will happen; save to say that the old ways are dead and politics will forever be changed. The political discourse is transformed, maybe forever, and the tired old consensus has been ripped up.
The Westminster elite need to get over themselves. There is a revolution taking place in plain sight. They can choose to ignore it if they like, but they can’t suppress the truth anymore. We don’t need the oxygen of their publicity anymore. Thanks to new media we can talk to each other, organise and mobilise without them. The stronger and more confident we become, the more we can begin to engage with others in our communities and on our streets, in universities and workplaces.
This is just the beginning. The battle to reclaim our heartlands has begun. After decades of ‘Blairite’ neglect the working class are coming home. We’ll come for middle England next. Our message of hope, of a fairer more equal society, where the rich pay what they owe and everybody shares in the fruits of their labours will surely resonate with them too. This is our vision, our common purpose. It’s what mobilises us and it’s what will sweep Jeremy Corbyn to yet another victory in September.
The message to the Parliamentary Labour Party is now a simple one. Get behind us or step aside. Our time has come and we are not letting it slip by without an almighty fight.
Jeff Goulding blogs regularly at www.jeffgoulding.com