Liverpool was a bit wet on May Day. But on this day of all days, a bit of rain shouldn’t be an excuse for not attending a march and rally with this sort of significance. May Day is supposed to be a celebration of the achievements of workers in their struggle for emancipation and a statement of intent. Workers should be showing their collective strength and will to continue the fight.
However, yesterday’s march was barely 100-strong in a city of half-a-million. The police had more numbers than the workers yesterday. Following some police intimidation and physical bullying of kids during the enforcement of a ridiculously unnecessary Section 60AA order, the tiny march set out on its way around the back-streets of Liverpool city centre on the most useless march route in history. Looking around, it was clear that planning, publicity and mobilization for the march was almost non-existent. The Liverpool Socialist Singers took up the rear. A sizeable (relatively, compared to the size of the march) anarchist bloc occupied the centre, and the Irish anti-fascist group led the march, although bureaucrats quickly usurped their position and obscured the Irish banner with their own.
Several attempts were made by various parts of the march to start some chants but the group quickly fell into silence, eventually ending up at the steps of the museum for the rally. This was rapidly usurped by union bureaucrats and Tony Mulhearn for Tony’s mayoral election campaign, which, as ever, relied on vague talk of “fighting cuts” and how capitalism has failed, but provided only one solution – vote Mulhearn. At one point, a bureaucrat from Unite was introduced as being from “the biggest trade union in Europe”. However, his members were conspicuous by their absence and it seemed clear that there had been no attempt by the unions in the city to mobilize workers for this march and rally. There clearly were nowhere near enough numbers for us to press ahead with our plans for an alternative platform. I fully understand that people can’t attend every action and that sometimes other things need to take precedence, but the numbers yesterday were pathetic even with this taken into account.
Hopefully though, yesterday’s farce can be made up for by the action planned for Saturday by UK Uncut and Liverpool Solidarity Federation to target businesses using workfare with direct action and in some small way, May Day will be taken back from the bureaucrats and careerists by the working class of the city. And hopefully this will be more effective than the recent Workfare Walk of Shame, where the police were told in advance which targets would be “hit” (by hit, I mean politely visited) and only one store was forced to stop trading for any period of time.
Also, provisional plans are already being made to improve vastly upon this year’s May Day shambles in Liverpool with a better organized and publicized event next year, with efforts being made to reach out to all sections of the working class in the city to encourage people to come out and celebrate the achievements of workers who have fought for such gains as the 8-hour day, health and safety at work, the welfare system and the NHS, and to show the determination to fight to improve on such gains is still there. With luck, Saturday’s action will help to kick-start this long process.
One piece of good news did emerge yesterday though: the arrest and subsequent charging of the National Front’s candidate for mayor, Peter Tierney. Following Liverpool Antifascists’ successful picket of Tierney’s suburban antique store at the weekend, it seems this Nazi thug was determined to draw attention to himself and had bitten off more than he could chew outside Liverpool Crown Court.