Francesca Martinez confirmed to speak at Nottingham People's Assembly

We're pleased to announce that comedienne francesca Martinez is speaking at the Nottingham People's Assembly! Check out this video of her comedy show.

Owen Jones: How the People's Assembly can challenge our suffocating political consensus

Owen JonesSometimes it seems as though British politics is one grand cartel, or a gentleman’s agreement, if you like. Certain questions will not be asked; opposition often amounts to quibbling over the finer details or nuances of a policy, or the competence of its delivery.

Austerity is a given, though its speed and scale may be queried; all agree on selling chunks of our public services to private sector vultures, though the extent may be challenged; the fact our workers have some of the worst rights in the Western world, that large corporations sitting on a cash pile worth £750bn are expected to pay less and less, that our banks are bailed out with the public’s dosh but are not under our control – none of this is seriously questioned.

If this cartel is ever disrupted, it is from the right. Ukip has surged in part because of a widespread sense that the political establishment are all in it together, to coin a phrase. Hard-right pressure groups like the Taxpayers Alliance out-flank the Conservatives, and in doing so drive the nation’s political conversation ever rightwards.

Anti-austerity movement

With the help of supposed newspaper reporters – in reality, often thinly veiled Government propagandists – the Tories have ruthlessly redirected growing anger at ever-tumbling living standards towards our neighbours: people thrown out of work, people who still have intact pensions, disabled people suspected of inventing their conditions for benefits, and so on. The latest target are immigrants. New arrivals will be barred from joining council housing waiting lists – which most are stuck on for years as it is – for up to five years. We have a scandalous shortage of council housing. Up to five million people languish on waiting lists. But the fault lies squarely with both the Tories and New Labour for selling off stock and failing to replace it. Convenient, then, to conjure up the spectre of the scrounging foreigner instead.

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Coming together – People’s Assembly update

Owen Jones wrote a fantastic piece in the Sunday People last week, promoting the People’s Assembly.

The Green Party voted at their conference to support the event and agreed “to send a delegation to the People’s Assembly and to  encourage local parties, regional federations and other GP bodies (eg GPTU) to also send delegations and to support future local People’s Assemblies.”

Sussex University Occupation, now in their third week of occupation, voted to support the People’s Assembly.

SOAS student union and UEA student union voted to support and send delegates to the People’s Assembly. UEA also agreed to fund transport for any student who wishes to attend.

Birmingham Trades Council, East London Teachers Association, Unite Community London and Eastern Region, County Durham Trades Union Council, RMT TfL No.1 Branch and Banner Theatre are just some of the latest supporters.

Film maker Ken Loach, one of the lead signatories on the Guardian letter, has given an interview for the Coalition of Resistance website and has agreed that at the showings of his new film, The Spirit of 45, we can distribute publicity for the People’s Assembly. On Sunday 17 March the film will be shown in over 40 cinemas across the country.


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Support pours in for the People’s Assembly

On Wednesday 6 February a list of trade union general secretaries, MPs, campaigners, and cultural figures put out a call for a People’s Assembly Against Austerity with a letter to the Guardian.

In the two weeks since, there has been some significant developments. Below is the first update. We will be sending out more as the assembly gathers momentum.

  • Unison contacted us the day after the appeal appeared in the Guardian to sign up. We welcome them on board. The significance of having the trade union with the biggest public sector membership involved can’t be overestimated.
  • Comedian Mark Steel has pledged his commitment to the project and written a fantastic article, published in the Independent on Monday. On Mark’s blog hundreds have left comments and messages of support for the initiative.
  • Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, has supported the call. The FBU has an important role to play in the anti-austerity movement with the threat of 12 fire station closures in London.
  • Disabled People Against the Cuts have signed up for the assembly and are producing a specific letter encouraging disabled organisations across the country to send representatives.
  • Rallies are being held to organise around the People’s Assembly in a growing list of towns and cities. We will publicise all of these on our website once they are confirmed. Plans are being made to get large meetings set up in major cities in the UK.
  • On the website more than 1,200 people have pledged their support for the People’s Assembly and already, 5 months before the event, 195 people have booked their seat.
  • Salma Yaqoob, speaking to 1,000 people on the platform at a Stop the War Coalition conference, announced her support for the People’s Assembly and encouraged others to support too.
  • The latest trade union branches and organisations to add their support include:
    Unite London and Eastern Region, NUJ Independent Broadcasting and New Media, Doncaster UCATT, Future TSSA, University of Bedfordshire UNISON, The Distant Voices, Justice4Jobseekers, Liverpool Confidential, TSSA btn, Lakin McCarthy Entertainment, Queer Resistance North West, UEL Labour Students, Bridport TLC – Community Resource & Recycling Project, Communist Party, South West and Cornwall District, Waltham Forest Labour Representation Committee, Milton Keynes Against the Cuts, People’s Bookshop, University of York Green Party, Bradford People’s Coalition Against the Cuts, London Eviction Resistance Network, The Peoples Bank UK, Really Wild Forest School, Marsh Farm Outreach CIC, Tyne and Wear Coalition of Resistance, Croydon Labour Representation Committee.
  • A number of our European contacts have been in touch to say they want to attend the People’s Assembly so we have decided that we will hold a Europe Against Austerity Assembly the day after the main event to continue co-ordination with our European partners.

This is just a taste of what is happening around the People’s Assembly. The response we have already received from the existing anti-austerity movement and also sections of the community not previously involved with the movement have been very encouraging.

Hundreds of others are currently putting the model resolution to their trade union branch or oragnisation, getting their friends, family and workmates to register, and spreading the word aroundFacebook, Twitter and other social media sites. We would encourage you to do the same, think creatively about who to contact, what organisations might send delegates, and how to make sure the assembly has the biggest impact possible.

If we can maintain this level of activity, we can make the People’s Assembly into the launch pad of a mass anti-austerity movement which can for the first time begin to set the political agenda.

In solidarity,

Sam Fairbairn
National Secretary, Coalition of Resistance


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