The Jarrow Marchers woke up the normally sleepy town of Hinckley on the morning of the 20th, going through the streets
chanting our slogans about making the bankers pay. A small number of passers-by declined to take our leaflets, although it can’t have been due to the marchers smelling bad as the local leisure centre had let us use their showers for free that morning!
The distance between the two towns being only six miles by the back roads meant that the marchers reached the pub in
Nuneaton which would be our home for the night in plenty of time. We were introduced to the landlord, a supporter of the campaign who had displayed march material in the corner, and would later make sure the marchers got a slap up meal.
We then used the free afternoon to leaflet for our protest and meeting that evening. Splitting into three groups, we went to visit local colleges and the job centre, where at each we gained contacts for the campaign. We then gathered outside North Warwickshire College alongside local RMT and Unite members to march into the town centre, for the now routine photoshoot for the local paper, before heading back to the pub to prepare for that evening’s rally and gig in support of the march, rounding off an excellent first day in the West (real) Midlands.
Nuneaton to Coventry
On Friday morning, our group of twenty-five marchers left the fantastic Railway Tavern pub in Nuneaton and started off on our way to Coventry. The Railway Tavern owners had graciously housed and fed us for the night, and we thank them for their hospitality.
The itinerary suggested the route was to be six miles, however, by the end of the day we were all agreed that we had covered considerably more!
The route took us through such towns and villages as Collycroft, Bedworth and Longford. Residents were happy to take leaflets. Motorists honked their horns and gave us the thumbs up as we passed.
On the outskirts of Coventry, we were joined by the local Trades Council, leading members of Coventry CWU and David Nellist, Socialist Party councillor for St Michael’s ward in Coventry.
The march proceeded to snake its way through the streets of Coventry, with Cllr Nellist leading the way. Our presence coincided with the end of the school week. Chants of “Bring back EMA! Make the greedy bankers pay!” and “Why have we marched all this way? Decent jobs with decent pay!”, coupled with the vibrant colour of the march, visibly resonated with the mass of working class young people out on the streets. Many school and college students were quick to ask for leaflets, wanting to know more about the march and campaign. Others gave us the thumbs up or a raised clenched fist. Several students even joined us for part of the march through the area.
We stopped outside City College. Cllr Nellist gave a short speech on the history of the building and how it is earmarked to be sold off, rather than kept in the public domain. He then went on to detail the adverse affects the Labour council cuts will have on the young people of Coventry, with already one in five out of work. Youth Fight For Jobs supports any elected representative or candidate who is prepared to vote against all cuts and is prepared to participate in mass struggle to defeat these attacks, be they Con-Dem or local Labour cuts.
The March carried on through Coventry’s pedestrianised shopping area, and then finished with one marcher giving a short
interview to the local BBC.
We all needed a rest after a long day of marching, and as luck would have it, we were given just that at a special reception generously put on for us by the CWU branch at the Inspire pub later that day.
This afternoon we will be holding a march and demonstration in Coventry, which meets at the steps of the Cathedral and then will proceed through the city centre.
The Jarrow March for Jobs is holding protests and demonstrations in every town and city for the Jarrow to London march, and a few places no en route. The original 1936 Jarrow Crusade marched through Stoke, and even though the 2011 Jarrow March for Jobs isn’t going through Stoke, on Wednesday 19th October and Thursday 20st, 4 Jarrow Marchers; including national Youth Fight for Jobs organiser Paul Callanan from London, unemployed Jarrow Marchers Ian Pattison and Steph Maston from Leeds, and Jamie Cocozza from Glasgow travelled over to Stoke to build support for the Jarrow March for Jobs and November 5th national demonstration inLondon.
On Wednesday, the Jarrow Marchers joined a march organised by Youth Fight for Jobs supporters in Stoke from Stoke
College through Staffs University to the city centre. Youth Fight for Jobs supporters were joined by college students from Stoke College and the local Midlands No.7 branch of the CWU (Communications Workers Union). After the march, the CWU branch fed the Jarrow Marchers and helped us dry off from the rain.
Maxine Tuck, Branch Secreatary of Midlands No.7 CWU, said, “We travelled to Jarrow on October 1st to see the marchers off,
because of the state the country is in today. Youth unemployment has gotten so much higher, and it’s important the trade unions support young people. Its incredible sad that 75 years later youth are forced to march again, but we’re proud to support the march, and stand shoulder to shoulder with those young people fighting back.”
We finished Wednesday with a fantastic tea-time stall in Stoke city centre, as workers travelled home. A lot of people were interested in joining Youth Fight for Jobs, and coming to the national demonstration on November 5th.
On Thursday, we had 3 successive large stalls different education institutions; Keele University, Newcastle College, and Stafford College. On Thursday, we were joined by FBU (Fire Brigades Union) members throughout the day who had come out to support the campaign.
Like most mornings, I woke up and initially didn’t realise where I was, but hey… such is life on the open road for Jarrow Marchers. After a few minutes spent cross referencing the amount of blisters on my feet with the virtual map in my head, I worked out I was in the 11th biggest city in the UK; Coventry. This time, a few of the other marchers and I had been put up by local socialist Rob Macca. Which I was so stoked about!
Rob had recently stood in a council by-election in Lower Stoke, acheiving a brilliant third place after Labour and the Tories. This is a clear sign that support for anti-cuts activists and the need for a socialist planned society is growing in cities like Cov.
After forcing myself out of bed, I had a shower, got dressed, combed my beard and pulled on my “March for Jobs” tshirt. I also did a few cheeky vocal excercises, for the demonstration later that day. I seem to have become cheif chant leader, a role I totally enjoy as I get to prance about and pretend I’m lead vocalist for my favourite poppunk hardcore band – Set Your Goals.
We all assembled at the cathedral steps, and the marchers greeted each other with the usual ironic “Good Morning Jobseekers”. The demo began and we marched through the city centre; we were joined by Socialist Party councillor and former Coventry MP Dave Nellist who did the first leg of the march in Jarrow and has been a long time fighter for youth and
working class people. The march stopped off in the precinct in Coventry where Dave spoke through the rather large loud speaker I was carrying, it was so big that i kept it on number 2 on the volume dial – I dare not even turn it all the way up to eleven!
Dave spoke about the growing unemployment figures and the fact that the main three parties are putting the blame of the economic crisis on the heads of working people. After he spoke, there was a loud cheer from the bystanders who had stopped shopping to listen to us. I then burst into the chant “Brrrrring back ema, take it out the banker’s pay” and we carried on through the city centre. My personal favourite chant is “Banks get bailed out – WE GET SOLD OUT!”. We then marched to the Methodist Central Hall where we had a packed public meeting, with plenty of words of support from trade unionists and a brilliant speech from Youth Fight for Jobs organiser Sarah Wrack, who has, along with the other national organisers, been instrumental in organising the march from London. Dave Nellist even sang an excerpt from a song about the original Jarrow March, it brought a tear to my eye, but that may be because of stiffled giggles!! Among the fantastic speakers, we heard from former socialist councillor Rob Windsor about the housing crisis in Coventry.
Tweets from the meeting:
- Crammed mtg of #jarrowmarch11 +Socialist Party in Cov after brilliant if brisk demo thru city. Ben Sprung of
#FBU just brought #solidarity
- Turn the world upside down says @davenellist quoting levellers at #jarrowmarch11 mtg inviting all to #Socialism2011 for ideas to #fightback
- #PCS trade unionist now giving greetings, thanking #jarrowmarch marchers for their effort and flagging up #n30 for next step of #fightback
- Jane Nellist, Coventry TUC and NUT teachers union speaking now about privilege to join with #jarrowmarch11 + why young ppl need trade unions
- Jane from NUT also calling for #solidarity for #n30 – don’t make public sector workers work til they drop- give young ppl a job and a future
- Housing Benefit worker giving #solidarity to #jarrowmarch11 esp demand for house building and renovating
programme to create jobs+homes#n30
- #jarrowmarch11 shows that youth unemployment is not down to individuals being lazy but government cuts-EMA, fees trebled and huge job cuts
- #jarrowmarch11 speaker points out ave of 7 job seekers for each vacancy but up to 84 in Merthyr. We want
massive job creation programme now!
- Young ppl should have same education opportunities as millionaire politicians enjoyed. #jarrowmarch11 how
to pay? See: http://jarrowmarch11.com/
- Solidarity officially moved from #jarrowmarch11 meeting for #hardesthit marches and @OccupyLSX
http://jarrowmarch11.com/ Fight ALL cuts pls RT
We were then taken to the Sikh Gurdwara for some delicious food prepared for temple volunteers. The food had been donated by people who attend the temple. It’s another example of the tremendous support we’ve been getting from ordinary people up and down the country!
After a nap and another comb of the beard, we went down to a local pub for a gig with the other marchers. As usual, we let off a bit of steam by singing songs we’ve written whilst walking.
Here’s my rap, its a bit of a work in progress, so bear with me!
‘Bring bring, bring bring,
bring bring, BRING BRING
Tories on the phone,
Tell them to leave our services alone!
Clegg at the door,
tell him we wont take the cuts no more!
Theres a message on twitter,
the poor are getting poorer, and the rich are getting richer!
You got mail!
THE NHS IS NOT FORSALE!
Just updated my facebook status!
Why are the government always at us?
No one stands for you! No one stands for me!
We need a new mass workers… PARTY!’
LOL! so theres one of my creations. Please don’t steal it. I’ll be watching YouTube! After singsongs, the night progressed and we all got up and danced to a Coventry rockerbilly band. There was so much 50’s clothing around I thought I’d accidentally taken a ride in the TARDIS!
Dave Nellist even got up and danced with us, I promise you I’ll never forget that memory! After wearing out my dancing shoes, we wandered home. I needed a good kip as I’d volunteered to help Dave Nellist and his team go around his ward of St Michael’s talking to people. After the support, the words and the dance moves he’d given us, how can a young person not want to show solidarity and help build the fightback in local communities for a better future for all!