On 7 May, between 6.30pm and 8pm, campaign groups all over the UK are taking over the internet to Fight For Our Lives. The UK death toll from coronavirus (Covid-19) is now the highest in Europe. This event is the start of the fightback to challenge the government’s mishandling of the crisis.
Fight For Our Lives
The Government’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis has cost thousands of lives. The People’s Assembly will be hosting a huge online platform for campaigns to voice their demands to meet this emergency and for a better life after the crisis.
Diverse groups representing pensioners, unions, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, refugees, alternative economic models (such as Universal Basic Income), and many more have united to challenge the government, stand in solidarity, and show that beyond lockdown a different world is possible.
People’s Assembly national organiser Ramona McCartney told The Canary that the idea for this event came from an effort to “try and somehow make sense of the crisis”. She explained:
When we went into lockdown, lots of activists asked ‘how can we be activists?’ and ‘what do we do in this situation, when everyone’s locked in their houses?’ There was a great feeling that the government was completely mishandling the whole crisis, especially around the NHS, careworkers and keyworkers.
The number of groups involved is testimony to the energy behind this campaign.
Against a rising awareness of the lack of protection for millions of workers, McCartney and others recognised a growing sense “of unrest”. Alongside this came the increasingly dangerous government response. Not least because, as she also emphasised, government “press briefings just sounded like a propaganda machine every day”.
Momentum for the event grew from a series of online People’s Assembly debates and talks. These drew “thousands of people” watching live and “over 200,000 views” afterwards. From this, McCartney explained:
We wanted to pull everyone together. To show that there is resistance to what’s happening and to unite. There’s a unity across these left-wing organisations. That’s how the idea came for this huge online rally.
To extend this, the 7 May event will ‘takeover’ social media accounts of groups involved. This is to livestream the rally and reach as many people as possible. Each of the groups has also issued three demands. These focus on change and how “things must be different when we come out of lockdown”.
“There’s no going back”
The plan is for these demands to become “something for people to rally around’. Each of the organisations involved “speaks for their own and speaks for the people they represent”. These demands “may be in education, health, welfare or the arts. For us, it’s definitely no return to austerity”.
“The overarching theme”, McCartney said, “is that there’s no going back”. These demands come “from the people as a direct challenge to the government”. From there, the hope is that:
The public sign it, and someday in the future, when it’s safe enough to do so, we can meet on the streets in our millions.
Perhaps the most devastating aspect of the pandemic has been the impact on the communities already hardest hit by ten years of Conservative-led austerity. Studies have shown that the pandemic has hit the poorest people the hardest. The disproportionate impact of coronavirus on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities is also a rising tragedy.
The People’s Assembly is “an umbrella organisation” that was founded, as McCartney explained, “under one bold statement: End Austerity Now”. This now has added significance:
After ten long years of crippling austerity, you can see from the figures and death rates, most are from the poorest areas. The poorest people and the most vulnerable people and the ones going out to work… are the ones hardest hit. This shines an absolute light on inequality and inequality that has definitely come from the harsh cuts that we saw the Tories roll out over the past ten years.
“The biggest hope” for this event during such challenging times “is hope itself”, McCartney said:
People will see that we are united and there’s strength in our numbers. When you don’t have anything else, sometimes the biggest thing we have is each other. And when we all come together, it gives confidence to communities, individuals and to organisations that we have everything and everything is worth fighting for.
A different way is absolutely possible. If the Tories have shown us anything, they’ve shown us that the government absolutely has money when it wants to.
Above everything else, this event is about “coming together, showing solidarity and unity”. The plan is to also get #HealthBeforeWealth trending across social media. McCartney said:
Let’s make sure that the government knows that there is opposition out there no matter if we’re in lockdown or not. We’re getting ready.
This is a fight to honour the lives already lost in this crisis and our lives too. It’s time to let the Tories know that we’re here and our collective power is rising.
Featured image via People’s Assembly Against Austerity, used with permission
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?