YFJ national organiser Paul Callanan in the Guardians Comment is Free – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/04/british-youth-protest-los-indignados-cuts
In the past few weeks, Europe has been rocked by youth rebellion. In Spain, young people have taken to the squares and plazas in a movement against sky-high levels of unemployment. In Greece, a huge movement of young people supported by the trade unions has taken to the streets over the government’s brutal austerity agenda. And now if young people are to have anything like a decent future in Britain, we need to do the same here.
At the moment there are nearly 1 million young people unemployed. We have also seen the right to an education snatched away from working- and middle-class students and turned into a privilege for the wealthiest few in society. Public sector cuts will also impact young people disproportionately as millions more are sent to the dole queue, while those services that support unemployed people are slashed to the bone. And this government of Bullingdon Boys wants to heap more misery upon us.
In spite of Cameron’s crocodile tears, the government clearly sees the situation as an opportunity to be seized for rich mates rather than the scourge that it is. Under its work programme, the unemployed will be turned into an army of slave labour working for meagre benefits.
It is fitting that this all coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade. Because, if the present economic crisis and attacks on young and working people show anything, it is that capitalism has not been able to solve the question of unemployment and poor living standards in the decades since the march. Yes, we may live much better now but we face 75 years of gains, like the NHS, the welfare state and the right to an education, being blotted out of existence. This government wants to wind back the clock to the 1930s. That is why we are bringing the spirit of “los indignados” to Britain and marching again.
Young people, unemployed people, trade union activists and students from the struggle last year will march from town to town, starting on 1 October and arriving in London on 5 November, myself among them. We will be organising protests, demonstrations and meetings to bring together all these groups. We’re demanding job creation not destruction from the government. We’re demanding a wage you can live on for all, including apprentices and interns. We’re demanding a halt to the brutal attacks on benefits, already lower for young people. To beat this government and to win a decent future, young people need to be part of a broad anti-cuts movement. That’s why the solidarity shown on 30 June was so important. We want the march to help build a mass movement.
The student movement at the end of last year already gave a glimpse of what was possible when young people moved. Not only did that movement break the silence on the Con-Dem cuts, shattering the idea that the cuts were necessary and inevitable, but it also won important concessions showing that mass movement can still win victories.
And events this year have shown that mass movements can change the world. The revolutionary wave that has swept across the Middle East was started by young people in Tunisia and Egypt. In Spain young people are marching from the north coast to Madrid. And just like young people have already done from Cairo to Madrid, we need to stand up and say that we won’t be a lost generation.