London May Day 2014 – the rally
Yesterday I stumbled across the annual May Day rally for trades union members because the buses were being stopped on either side of Trafalgar Square where it was being held. And the only way across the square was on foot.
Back in the 1980s, I’d been on many marches and rallies against racism, nuclear weapons and government cutbacks. But these days, the threat of violence at these events and disillusionment with the politics in general keeps me away. So a mix of nostalgia and idle curiosity made me pause and watch. And I took out my phone to take the odd picture or two.
Bob & Tony Don’t Mourn, Organise
By then it was around 3pm. And for the last hour and half London had been drenched with heavy rain. But around that time the rain had stopped, allowing the most passionate supporters, who had not be deterred by the rain, to enjoy the rally. There were speeches and video tributes to RMT leader Bob Crowe and Labour politician Tony Benn who had died within 3 days of each other, only 7 weeks ago. Just after I arrived, they showed a short film in memory of Bob Crowe.
For anyone whose life has been negatively affected by the recession, hearing about the passion and determination of this man is uplifting. And whilst the current government seems to be on a mission to punish the poor, to hear that there is still a determination amongst ordinary men and women to fight back is important. It is easy when alone to feel helpless. I found that old socialist rhetoric still effective and stirring. And marvelled that there were still people out there who speak like that.
People need to believe they can make a difference
Next followed a tribute to Tony Benn MP who had died only 3 days after Bob Crowe. And what a life he had had. There was so much to say about him. The one sound bite that leapt out at me from the video was Tony Benn saying that people need to believe they can make a difference and without that, there is no motivation.
During a period in our history when many feel powerless, this is very important to remember. We all want to make a difference and be heard. And I’m so glad I paused by Trafalgar Square yesterday to hear this inspirational man’s words. Along with the other remembrances of his rich and varied life.