Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Salford May Day Rally 2011, Bexley Square

For the first time in over a decade Salford People held a May Day Rally to celebrate the struggles of workers and ordinary people and discuss the struggles ahead. More than sixty people gathered in Bexley Square on Monday 2nd May, in front of the former Town Hall and Magistrates Courts. The weather was bright and blustery, and there were several stalls including one from the Working Class Movement Library. I came away with an armful of pamphlets.

This year is the eightieth anniversary of the "Battle of Bexley Square", when Salford workers tried to present a petition to their elected representatives on the council protesting the reduction of the dole at a time of economic hardship, but were beaten by horseback police (there is a brief video here or you can read Edmund and Ruth Frow's account).

Tony Flynn told the story of the battle, and drew parallels with the student protests in London at the end of last year. He spoke about his campaign for a plaque on the old town hall to commemorate the events. The council have in principle agreed to it, but refused to pay towards it. Steven North then announced that Salford Against the Cuts would do everything we could to see that on the Anniversary itself, October 1st, the plaque would be unveiled.

Others spoke about Salford university against the cuts, bringing students and lecturers together to fight, and about the crime of cuts to pensions. Alice Searle spoke passionately about the cuts to Education and the NHS -- "I was born at the start of the NHS, I don't want it to die before I do." Paul Kelly expressed his outrage at students beaten for demanding a better world.

Two speakers came from outside Salford. Ian Heyes from Wigan people against cuts stressed the importance of anti-cuts groups working together. Stuart Richardson from Birmingham against the cuts told how a region not known for activism or radicalism was seeing a growing anger and action against the current cuts.

Steven North closed with the news that due to campaigning by the people of Salford the council had decided to keep Ordsall Library open, reversing its decision to close it. This brought a cheer from the crowd, but with determination to continue to fight all cuts in Salford and Britain.

Video of the rally at Salfordonline

BBC report

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