Home > General Politics, Labour Party News, Local Democracy, Marxism > Reflections on May Day, London

Reflections on May Day, London

May Day this year could have gone either way; on the one hand it was possible trade unionists up and and down the country got all their marching needs out the way on 26 March during the TUC march. Though on the other hand of course activists have mobilised somewhat in the last year, particularly in anticipation of the pinch at the hands of Tory-LibDem cuts.

A woman I was speaking to at Clerkenwell Green told me she had counted around 100 police officers on her way to the square, which made her concerned about the nature of today’s march. Recent events have made some rather nervous (that, or more determined to act). 15 activists in Bristol were arrested recently as protests ripped through the stokes croft area, an individual arrested during the royal wedding event had been singing “we all live in a fascist regime”, and the activist Chris Knight was pre-emptively arrested – taking police power into Minority Report territory.

The same women also opined that May Day be returned to its original roots – that of celebrating the labour force in a more relaxed showing of solidarity, as opposed to the exclusive, family un-friendly event it has possibly become.

As the march started, however, it was clear that nowhere near the same numbers had come out as previous years – trouble was reduced to zero, and there was no presence of blac bloc activists at all (at least not in Trafalgar Square). The police numbers seemed almost irrelevant.

May Day is an important show of worker strength – which is all the more important now David Cameron has threatened to remove it as a public holiday (just another stab in the back for the most vulnerable in society, and a signal of things to come). But today all the energy seemed to be sapped out. And the woman I spoke to appeared to be right; generally the message has been lost (one half of Trafalgar Square seemed almost exclusively filled with banners of Stalin).

Aside from campaigning for speeches without shouting, those who have high regard for May Day should see that it returns to its traditional message – labor day, not Stalinist Labour bashing!

(For some of the best photos of the day, see Louise).

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  1. May 2, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Speaker from TUC at the May Day rally said it was bigger than last year. I really doubt that, it took me very little time to run from back of demo to front stopping to take pix.
    And yes it is a traditional to gawp at the impressively made banners from the Tankies section. We may all laugh but it is off putting when you see banners of Old Joe with that perpetual knowing “you’re off to the gulag, comrade” smile. Again, we laugh about wearing a Trotsky tee shirt scaring the Stals by them retaliating with an ice pick!

    May Day should be about solidarity, unity and collectivity of the working class but the Left is very weak and the fact the numbers were insignificent yesterday. Globally May Day is taken more seriously but less so here now.

    • May 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      That’s what the woman I was speaking to said, that elsewhere it is taken very seriously, and here – of all places – it is a reminder that fellow travellers hate the Labour party as much as Hungarians. The Left is weak, which in itself is not good, but it comes at a time when the government is doing its very best to fuck evertything up. Judging from I saw yesterday there’s almost no point Cameron stopping May Day from being a bank holiday, his hard work is being done for him in Leftist dis-organisation.

  2. December 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    What an all ’round great post!!

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