‘NO one can deny this is the biggest economic crash – eclipsing 1914 and the 1929 Wall Street crash. And this crisis is driving forwards world revolution.’
That was the message brought by Young Socialists March for Jobs leader Jonty Leff to the News Line Anniversary and Leon Trotsky Memorial Rally in east London on Sunday.
The Young Socialists marchers led a demonstration of more 400 youth and workers from Bethnal Green to the rally at Queen Mary University in Mile End.
Local people cheered and many joined in along the route of the demonstration, the final leg of the YS March from Manchester to London.
The young marchers had walked more than 220 miles, going through towns and cities that were once industrial centres but which are now suffering from mass unemployment.
As they made their way to the News Line rally, chants rang out of: ‘From Manchester to London, Young Socialists agree – youth demand jobs and education must be free.’
There were more chants including: ‘Defend the NHS!’, ‘General strike now!’, ‘Bring this government down!’ and ‘Forwards to socialism!’
As the marchers entered the meeting at Queen Mary University they received a standing ovation from the audience.
Jonty Leff told the meeting that ‘Our march has proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that the TUC’s position of waiting five years and putting up with the cuts and destruction of people’s lives and then electing a Labour government – as if that’s going to resolve things – is complete and utter rubbish!’
He said: ‘We couldn’t have walked a single step without the support from the working class for our position.
‘It was an overwhelming response. We met with enthusiasm and open arms in every town and city that we stopped.’
He said the union officials that had met the marchers and showed their support also told them: ‘We can’t wait five years.’
‘These cuts are affecting their members now and they’re inspired by the Young Socialists taking action and saying the only way forwards is to bring down this government,’ He continued.
‘In Birmingham, they gave a redundancy notice to every single worker in Birmingham Council – 26,000 workers.
‘The idea of waiting five years for a Labour government is absolutely bankrupt.
‘This is a war. People said shout louder and marcher harder. We were riding a wave of anger.
‘What we are seeing is the destruction of structures that have taken centuries to build, like the NHS and council housing.
‘Our demands to bring this government down were a great inspiration to workers.
‘Now our party must grow.
‘This is the 41st anniversary of our daily paper. It will play an even bigger role as an educator, propagandist and organiser in the coming year.
‘We’re also celebrating Trotsky’s revolutionary contribution to Marxism.
‘Lenin and Trotsky saw the Russian Revolution not as a national event, but as part of the struggle for the world socialist revolution.
‘The Fourth International founded by Trotsky has to be built in every country.
‘In Greece, Ireland, France, people are rising up.
‘They’re rising up in countries across the world.’
He added: ‘Capitalism’s attempts to go beyond the nation state are being drowned in oceans of debt.
‘It’s strained the eurozone to breaking point.
‘The IMF has taken control of Greece, now they’re examining the books of the Irish state.
‘After 800 years of fighting British rule, they find the EU wants to make them a colony.
‘Germany, Britain and France are dictating to Ireland to raise their corporation tax. Far from helping Ireland, they’re sticking a knife into Ireland and twisting it.
‘The union leaders of Ireland fear this is going to come to a revolution.’
He said that the capitalist governments of the major European powers, Britain, Germany and France, ‘are using this crisis to put forward their own national interests.’
But he added that revolution was coming to Britain, France and Germany as well.
‘The capitalist crisis is driving forwards revolution, particularly in Europe,’ he said.
He concluded that the only way to resolve the crisis of capitalism was through the international socialist revolution, which would establish a United Socialist States of Europe as part of the world revolution to sweep away capitalism and imperialism.
He said the best way to celebrate the revolutionary lives of Lenin and Trotsky ‘is to build the revolutionary party and the Fourth International’ to go forwards to world socialism.
Other marchers also addressed the rally, including Paul Lepper, Editor of the ‘Young Socialist’, the YS weekly paper.
He told the rally: ‘Our march has travelled through historical industrial areas and we’ve had our eyes opened to the struggles working-class people have been through.
‘What we have inherited with the Welfare State, council housing and public services, all these things were fought for.
‘It’s our duty to defend these things by all means necessary.
He added: ‘Why should we allow ourselves to be literally dragged back hundreds of years?’
To applause, Paul Lepper added: ‘People are furious. They need a leadership and I think that’s something the Workers Revolutionary Party and the Young Socialists can provide.
‘We’re going to go forward and build branches all over the country.
‘I urge you all to join the Workers Revolutionary Party because we’re in this fight for victory.’
GMB national officer Sharon Holder, speaking in a personal capacity, applauded the Young Socialists march.
She told the meeting: ‘I became a trade unionist after leaving school and realising that everything in my life and everything we do at work is about politics.
‘It’s inspirational these young people have travelled all the way from Manchester to London.
‘I concur with Paul. It is leadership.’
She said that in government, the Labour leaders had carried on ‘the dogmatic pursuit of privatisation and capitalism – just as this government is doing now’.
But she was pleased that ‘we didn’t vote in David Miliband (Blair Mark Two)’ as the new Labour Party leader.
‘That was a trade unionists’ decision and they’ll knock us for that,’ she said.
She concluded: ‘It is time for us all together to defend public services, council housing and the youth of today,’ Sharon Holder concluded.
YS marcher Lydia Ngala said: ‘I think the working class is very powerful and our march proved that.
‘Our march was for free state education and jobs.
‘We trusted in what we were doing and had confidence in the working class.
‘Young people totally agreed with us and were very pleased to see us marching and rallying for jobs for youth.
‘They want to set up YS branches.’
She added: ‘Trade unions greeted us overwhelmingly.’
Bill Rogers, a member of the train drivers’ union ASLEF and the Secretary of the North-East London Council of Action, said:
‘I would like to invite you on the December 4th march by our Council of Action to defend Chase Farm Hospital.
‘The government wants to smash up Chase Farm Hospital.’
He continued: ‘What we are proposing is the occupation of Chase Farm Hospital.
‘We want thousands to join us on the march and be prepared to occupy the hospital.’
Sacked Gate Gourmet worker Lakhinder Saran also addressed the rally.
Bringing greetings to the YS marchers and to the News Line she said: ‘In August 2005 we were all sacked, but we are still fighting.’
She said the actions of Gate Gourmet had become a blueprint for employers everywhere and now the London firefighters were facing the same threat of mass sackings.
She said that Gate Gourmet had a ‘survival plan’ to cut costs with ‘cheap labour’.
She said: ‘We were ready to fight but our trade union leaders made a deal with our bosses.
‘Our trade union leaders knew about the cheap labour plan, but left us to fight alone. They just let us be sacked . . .
‘Workers want trade union leaders to fight for those who pay their salaries.
‘We don’t want them to say “yes’’ to us and “yes’’ to the bosses.’ She concluded: ‘We will not give up our struggle for ourselves and for all workers.’
YS marcher and YS National Secretary Joshua Ogunleye said: ‘We’re told to wait for the next government, but the working class wants something to happen now. They need action. That is what the march provided.
‘We marched to 17 different cities. Workers fed and housed us.
‘The working class is ready to go out and win.’
He added: ‘Leadership was shown by the march.
‘It is needed to bring down the government and go forward to a workers government.’
Hengride Permal of the Chagos Islands Community Association said: ‘Congratulations to the YS march and it was a great march. You amaze me.
‘Our association has been fighting for over 40 years for our rights to go back to our islands.
‘The British government threw us out, without our belongings, so that the US could build a military base there. They treated us like dogs.
‘We need to motivate the young people to fight for their rights.’
She added: ‘We are inspired by your march and how you are getting young people together.
‘More young people need to come together with the Young Socialists to fight against all that is happening, the attack on education, the attack on jobs.’
Surgeon Anna Athow, a member of the BMA Council, speaking in a personal capacity, said:
‘Despite all the spin about ring fencing of health spending, £20 billion of cuts – a fifth of the budget – is being driven through right now.’
She said that ‘100,000 jobs are threatened, that’s 10 per cent of the workforce.’
She added: ‘We are not going back to the 1930s.
‘Our Young Socialists members’ March for Jobs and Free State Education is a tremendous inspiration to get into this battle to defend all our public services, by building a new revolutionary leadership in the trade unions.
‘What we need is a workers government and socialism.’