On Saturday, June 26, thousands of people from progressive sections in the UK marched in London to protest the Tory government’s failure to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. Asserting that the Tories are unfit to govern the country, the protesters condemned the government’s bid to enact draconian laws intended to block protests. The call for the mobilization was given by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. It was joined by trade unions, political parties, feminist groups, anti-imperialist and peace groups, anti-racist and anti-fascist organizations, housing rights groups, climate activists, rights activists, and others.
The protesters marched under the banner “United Against the Tories” and slammed the Boris Johnson-led Tory government for trying to enact the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which gives the police additional discretionary powers to control protests and public gatherings.
On Saturday, UK health secretary Matt Hancock resigned from his post over controversies about him breaching COVID-19 rules. Sajid Javid is likely to be the new secretary of state for health and social care. Regarding Hancock’s resignation, MP Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that Hancock should have resigned earlier over the “Serco contract, Care Home deaths, PPE disaster and the treatment of the NHS workers and carers.”
Though progressive sections welcomed Hancock’s resignation, they raised concerns about Javid’s appointment as health secretary due to his close links with the JP Morgan banking group which has vested interests in private health care.
Socialist Worker reported on Saturday that over 250 anti-fascists, mainly trade unions and members of Stand Up to Racism, countered and outflanked a mobilization of fascist groups in Batley, West Yorkshire.
Regarding the mobilization in London, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity stated that “this government has made it clear it wants working people to pay for the coronavirus crisis. The pitiful offer to nurses, the public sector pay freeze, lack of sick pay is in stark contrast to contracts granted to friends and cronies. Employers are going on the offensive, particularly with fire and rehire policies. But there has been widespread opposition to this, including strike action.”
“The Tories are also attempting to use the cover of the pandemic to pass the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which reaches its final reading in June. This bill is an affront to democracy, an assault on our rights to protest, and an attempt to silence dissent. This government has failed us. This demonstration is our first opportunity to take to the streets in opposition,” People’s Assembly added.