The National People’s Assembly was established in 2013 to campaign both against the continuing austerity policies that harm the most vulnerable amongst us, but also for alternative, more equitable solutions to the challenges facing Britain. Among the original signatories for the People’s Assembly were Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
In support of the more broad based People’s Assembly, the Labour Assembly Against Austerity was also formed. This comprised Labour Party members, supporters, unionists and MPs e.g. Owen Jones, Len McClusky, Diane Abbott. They called for Labour to reject the cuts and develop an alternative economic model.
After the 2015 General Election 250,000 people joined an anti austerity march and rally in London. The Tories had just formed a minority Government buoyed up by the Democratic Unionist Party. At the rally, Sam Fairbairn, National Secretary for the People’s Assembly, called for local People’s Assemblies to be set up in order to strengthen grass-roots engagement with the campaign. This rally inspired the launch of the Eastbourne People’s Assembly (EPA).
Eastbourne Labour Party affiliated with the EPA at the time of our 2015 launch. This was timely as days earlier Jeremy Corbyn had overwhelmingly won the Labour leadership and had announced, in no uncertain terms, that Labour was an anti austerity Party.
After 8 years of ruthless austerity policies the country is now on its knees and people are crying out for change. In the early days of anti austerity campaigning in this town, we were laughed at by hard liners for living in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ and wanting to drive the country further into debt. Well, under austerity the country’s debt has increased, personal debt has increased, the equality gap has widened and the rich have become richer.
When Margaret Thatcher set our economy (and the global economy with Ronald Regan) on the path of privatisation and deregulation (Neolibralism), she famously coined the phrase ‘there is no alternative’ or TINA for short. Well, TINA is on the way out. People are waking up to the idea that there is another way. The politics of hope is upon us. John McDonnell, as Shadow Chancellor, has set out a fully costed economic alternative in the Labour Party Manifesto 2017. We need to join forces to help bring about a government that will turn the tide of austerity.
Let’s change the story! We want to challenge the story of austerity, and replace it with a new story of fairness, justice, and equality for all of us.
Article published in Bourefreelive 25th January 2022
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