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Record turnout for Leeds May Day

On 30 April over 300 trade unionists, workers, students and unemployed joined the Leeds ‘March for the Alternative’ May Day demonstration called by the Local Trades council.

The sun shone down on what was easily the biggest May Day turnout in years, with banners from Unison Health & Local, GMB, Unite, UCATT, NUT, NASUWT, CWU and a surprising number of local campaigns, including Stocks Hill health centre and Wakefield Coalition Against the Cuts.

Historically a celebration of workers’ organisations and international solidarity, this year the dominant theme was of course the Tory government’s spending cuts – and the Royal Wedding wasn’t very popular either.

After a march through town the demonstration gathered for a rally outside the art gallery. There was a list of speakers which didn’t deviate from the usual suspects who address the crowd at such events, not forgetting the ‘singer’ wheeled out every May Day to subject us to terrible versions of leftwing songs.

At the end of the Rally a speaker from Leeds Uncut spoke about the ongoing protests against Tax Avoidance at Vodafone and Topshop etc.

REVOLUTION had originally attended the secretive and exclusive planning meetings, arguing for the preparation to be opened up on a wider scale to include the rapidly-growing anti-cuts groups in local areas. We also proposed that a shift be made to target the profiteers and privatisers who stand to make £millions by buying up public services sold off on the cheap. These plans were rejected.

In the end the Uncut action did not attract a significant part of the demo to actions in town, although it carried out a reasonably successful demo at several shops in town.

However such actions need to be organised on a much wider scale, and they need to recognise that there is a much broader list of targets, which can use similar tactics to raise issues other than tax-dodging.

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