the Disillusioned kid
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Saturday, May 01, 2004

May 1st has been celebrated as International Workers' Day by workers, socialists and others around the world since the days of the Haymarket Martyrs. In recent years the day has been marked by impressive and confrontational demonstrations in London, although this year this had to be cancelled, a damning reflection on the state of the anarchist and direct action movements in the UK. Nonetheless demonstrations did take place across the country including the one I attended in Nottingham.

Organised by the Notts Trade Justice Movement in conjunction with the Trades Union Council and supported by various organisations, the event was attended by something like 2-300 people. Not an amazing turnout (prior to invasion of Iraq Nottingham Stop the War organised a demo in the city with 1-2,000 people and that on a rainy, overcast day), but considerably better than last year. There was also a wide variety of groups present and causes promoted. Worker-Communist Party of Iraq supporters distributed placards opposing forced deportation, the occupation of Iraq and "political Islam" while Anti-Imperialist Action distributed flyers calling for support for the "people's war" in Nepal. Groups active around trade justice and development were also well represented, although the same could not be said for the trade unions, a criticism which was also made last year.

There were as at all such events various speakers, this time preceded by a role play about the role of international organisations (such as the EU) and multi-national corporations in the exploitation of the world's poor. I missed much of this, however, as I was perusing the stalls representing various organisations. I made my way to the truck set up for speeches to hear some of the later ones which included Sara Kassam, speaking on behalf of the University of Nottingham Students' Union (an organisation normally opposed to any kind of serious political action, so their presence today was encouraging) and Alan Simpson MP (who I saw speak at the Stop the War Coalition national conference I attended last week, surely he must be following me around!?).

Overall today's event was encouraging, demonstrating that Nottingham has a vibrant and active civil society. Sure, we didn't change the world and I doubt that Tony Blair gives a fuck, but that's hardly the point. Those on the demo have hopefully come away feeling empowered and empowerment can very easily translate into action and action is the basis of social change. As the Worker-Communists like to say, "Long live Mayday!"
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