The Peoples Assembly Reaches out to Medway

simon at peoples assembly

Simon Marchant at the Peoples Assembly

The first meeting of the Medway People’s Assembly took place in Gillingham on Monday. The event, sponsored by the Medway Trades Council and the Benefit Justice Campaign, and held at the Deaf Club in Balmoral Road, was well attended and included a contingent from Medway Green Party.

The local People’s Assembly is part of a national initiative which aims to join left wing parties and unions together to fight against austerity measures inflicted by the Coalition Government.  Notable national leading figures supporting the movement are Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and Owen Jones, author of “Chavs, The Demonisation of the Working Class” and political campaigner. In addition unions such as Unison and RMT and political parties including SWP, the Socialist Party, TUSC and the Communist Party, have put their weight behind the campaign.

The meeting included speeches by Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, who spoke about the condition of the railway service, post privatisation, and continuing reduction in quality of service due to additional job cuts; Paula Peters from Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) who spoke of the struggles people with disabilities have to go through when being assessed by Atos, pointing out that 59% of the cuts in benefits directly affect disabled people; and Jacqui Berry of Unison and the Trades Council who spoke about pressures on the NHS and the need for a united resistance to the coalition.

Trish Marchant, Medway Green Party co-ordinator commented:

“There was talk from the floor about forming a new party of the left, but the Green Party already provides a real alternative. We work hard to challenge the unfair and destructive policies of the coalition government up and down the country.  As an example, we will be having a demo and petition on the 15th June in Rochester that calls on Medway Council to follow Brighton’s lead in guaranteeing that those unable to pay the bedroom tax will not be evicted.”

From the floor, the meeting heard from a parent who was facing cuts in the care support package for her severely disabled son, and a retired railway worker who had no money for food over the bank holiday weekend.

A respectful minute’s silence was held for all of those who have lost their lives as a result of the ongoing benefit reforms.  This included many friends of DPAC campaigner, Paula Peters. She spoke of people who had taken their lives as a direct result of their experiences with Atos, the disability claims assessors, as well as Stephanie Bottrill who tragically took her own life because she couldn’t afford the extra £20 a week to pay the bedroom tax and blamed the government in her suicide note.”

Trish commented:

“With 500,000 people now relying on food banks in the UK and thousands dying as a result of their ongoing policies, it makes you wonder why the Condem government are still not being held culpable for their cruel and inhumane treatment of British citizens.  It cannot go on and we hope that the People’s Assembly gains ground in Medway and the rest of the UK and puts a stop to Cameron and his Eton cronies.”

***********************************************************************************************

ENDS

Notes:  http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

Medway Green Party can be found at:

1.      http://medway.greenparty.org.uk

2.      https://medwaygreenparty.wordpress.com

3.      https://twitter.com/medwaygreens

4.      https://www.facebook.com/medway.greens

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