By Declan Carey
JEREMY Corbyn joined protestors at a demonstration in London last Saturday organised by the People’s Assembly, where he called for an NHS-style social care system free at the point of use for all.
The People’s Assembly national demonstration on June 26, 2021 saw groups such as Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, the free Palestine movement, Kill the Bill, and trade unions march together against the Tories.
Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Zarah Sultana, and Richard Burgon were among the speakers at Parliament Square.
In his speech, the former Labour leader said: “They said I was scaremongering when I said companies would come in and take over our NHS.
“Well if I was scaremongering, how come Centene now run a GP practice in my own constituency?
“I say get the contractors out of the NHS, pay the NHS staff the 15 per cent increase they need and deserve.
“But we as a movement are not just about defending the gains that our predecessors made in health, education, housing, and so many other areas.
“We’re about taking things further forward, a world of peace, a world of justice.
“And there’s a great injustice that happens when you get older, and all of us one day are going to get older, half the people in this square at some point in their lives are going to need social care.
“I say this to those that are thinking of social care policies, make social care the equivalent of our NHS and provide it free at the point of need for everyone.”
The march started at around 12.45pm from the BBC HQ at Portland Place, central London, with speeches from the editor of the Morning Star newspaper, and other groups involved in the demonstration.
Protestors marched together to Parliament where Corbyn joined the front of the crowd, sparking huge cheers.
After Corbyn, Sultana, and Burgon each addressed the crowd, speakers such as Steve Turner (candidate for general secretary at Unite the Union), journalist Jake Bowers, Howard Beckett (Unite assistant general secretary), and others joined in on stage.
Several speakers made reference to the former Labour Party slogan for the many, not the few.
People’s Assembly steward Marie, who joined the march from Leeds, explained that she was attending the demonstration to show the government that people do not accept how the government is running the country.
She told Redaction Report: “We oppose this oppressive Tory government and what it is doing to the country.
“We oppose successive Tory governments that have been doing some very dogy things, particulalrly harassment of sick and disabled people with benefit reforms.
“We’ve had increasing violations of civil liberties over the last year since the pandemic, so we’re coming out to say to the government that this is not okay.”
A number of people felt angry at the recent resignation of former health secretary Matt Hancock, who was accused of breaching his own social distancing rules in office.
One protestor, who did not wish to be named, said: “I’m here because I am just pissed off with everything and angry.
“I’m anti-war, I believe that we need a new system from the ground up, and I would like to fight for more communication and intelligent debate.”
One of the biggest groups in attendance was supporters of the the Free Palestine movement.
Palestinian flags were waved right throughout the procession, from lamp posts, and tied to landmarks.
Some demonstrators were fundraising to provide more support to Palestinians in Gaza.
Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told Redaction Report: “We’re here both in solidarity with the march but also because we believe that the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people is an indivisible part of the struggle against all unjust structures of power.”
He added: “Palestine is an issue that comes into the headlines at any point where there is an escalation of violence, and that usually means Israel is killing Palestinians.
“The problem is a systematic system of oppression that even Human Rights Watch and Israel’s leading human rights organisation are now calling a system of apartheid.
“The UK should be responding as it should respond to all states that violate international law and commit human rights abuses.”
After speeches on Parliament Square, many of the speakers mingled with the crowd, and Jeremy Corbyn stayed around to speak to activists and answer questions about the socialist movement in Britain.
Some People’s Assembly organisers shared that they had expected more people to turn up, but also that Covid-19 restrictions had played a part in making it difficult for people to make the trip to London.
However, the thousands that did attend described feeling happier than ever to be marching through the capital and challenging the government over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Featured Image: Declan Carey
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