Around 35,000 demonstrators swamped the streets of Manchester this weekend to make sure the Tories know we’re there. Good work .
Organised by the Trades Union Congress it was billed as a “march and rally for The Alternative – jobs, growth, justice” in opposition to the coalition’s axing of public services and pensions; a culture protecting its comforts.
This wasn’t a bunch of loonies and anarchists. Huge numbers of mainstream public sector unions and workers, including fire fighters and teachers, took part along with a range of activists; no arrests were made, no punch-ups seen.
Here’s some of the chants that went up over the weekend:
“Tory scum, off our streets”
”David Cameron on your bike, we want a general strike!”
“Only one cut we want to see, Tories on the guillotine”
The last one’s a bit strong, but the wit of the half-rhyme is admired.
We in the Guild love a chant.
William Morris is the main man for us British Socialists when it comes to the chant.
In Morris’s time – the late 19th Century (CE) – it’s no exaggeration to suggest that everyone sang. Sheet music was the MP3 of the day, Christmas carols were becoming massive, Music Hall songs and folk tunes were passed around in the pub, around the hearth and whilst working.
Morris understood how to emote through his poetry, when he turned to songwriting he invented the Socialist R’n’B of the day. Just look at the titles: they could all be songs by Thee Faction – ‘Voice of Toil’, ‘Wake London Lads’, ‘No Master’, ‘All For The Cause’, ‘The Day is Coming’ (“cast off all fooling, for this, at least, we know: That the Dawn and the Day is coming, and forth the Banners go”) ‘Socialists at Play’ ‘The March of the Workers’, and many more.
He was that popular that in 1890 he was considered to be the frontrunner for the Poet Laureate gig to replace Tennyson. Check some of the lyrics.
The chants romanticise the march of the workers. There’s no real attempt to explain historic class struggle, but they were antithetical (i.e a positive future was contrasted with a negative present), which is something the Guild at Thee Faction attempt to portray. There’s going to be more chanting on the next LP….”Don’t forget what the movement’s done for you baby, don’t forget what the movement’s done for you…