Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Lambeth ‘People’s Assembly’, 21 May 2011

The Lambeth ‘People’s Assembly’ showed that there is a lot of controlled anger in Lambeth ready to be harnessed into action/s. As a 'people's assembly' it lived up to its title. There was a wide cross-section of people and groups from, mainly, across the borough. 

John McDonnell gave a contemporary take on the deficit and how this government was mismanaging the recovery. While Ted Knight made a very good contribution from a historical perspective.

Kingsley Abrams received a rapturous welcome when introduced as the only Labour Councillor to make a stand against the cuts. Councillor Abrams was swiftly punished by the Labour Group in Lambeth and suspended for three months, ostensibly for comments alleged to have been made; but, in reality for breaking Party discipline.

Councillor Abrams
Ruth Cashman, a librarian and trade unionist working in Lambeth, drew a picture of the range of cuts across the borough going on to explain the wider implications surrounding the closure of libraries, the elimination of park rangers and the sacking of park rangers.

Anita Wright spoke passionately on education. She also flagged up the importance of the Lambeth Trades Council within the SOS and across the fight against the cuts.

I chaired the disability workshop. Sadly, we didn't have time to cover all 17 or 18 areas of cuts; and, by agreement we focused on how we as a group could pull together and fight against and assist one and other on benefits' cuts.

Future events for disabled people in Lambeth include the Lambeth Pan-Disability Forum’s ‘Protest and Survive’ meeting. This is an open meeting for disabled people in Lambeth, and interested parties, to meet and discuss how we as a group can resist the Tory cuts. It was also agreed that we fully support whatever action was taking place on 30th June.

Seán McGovern speaking
Left to right seated at table
Ellen Lebethe, Anita Wright and Richard Farnos
Ellen Lebethe, Lambeth SOS and Lambeth Pensioners Action Group, gave a grave account of the services elderly people in the Borough were losing; however, this gloomy news was tempered by Ellen’s indomitable fighting-back attitude.  

Queers Against the Cuts spokesperson, Richard Farnos, told how the LGBT community was disproportionately dependent on resources, including health. Communities should not be divided to “fight for the crumbs from the table,” he said.

The assembly was encouraging. There is a real passion out there for action. Hopefully, future assemblies will attract more people; hopefully we can get across to those thousands of people who think they're not political, yet if the surface were scratched deep enough their political soul would be bared.

No comments:

Post a Comment