DISCLAIMER: The following article is the opinion of its author and subsequent contributors and does not represent the views of the People’s Assembly or of any political party
I’d just like to take a moment to thank everyone who traveled down from the North East to The Peoples Assembly and all of those who contributed to this live blog. Also big thanks to the people who provided media coverage of this event including the students form Newcastle College, Sky Tyne & Wear and any other media outlet who used our local group as a source.
Bags packed, porridge eaten, business cards counted. It’s time to start the People’s Assembly Live Blog!
04:20 just left the house, I’ve had around half an hours sleep so I’ll be running on sheer adrenaline from this point on.
04:38 At central station and on the train. According to the Tories, unemployed people shouldn’t be awake until 5 in the afternoon not 5 in the morning. #buckingthetrend
I think we’ve learnt something here, the Newcastle People’s Assembly has to start at 9am so anyone coming up from that there London feels like I’m feeling right now.
The latest from Joan Hewitt: @TurkishBathsNCL: #People’s Assembly NCL.Taxi driver was a disillusioned communist. Greed ruled, he said. We jabbered on happily and he looked chirpier.
In other news there seems to be an ‘official’ People’s Assembly Live Blog going around. If you want London-centric stuff go there, but if you want a north east slant stick with us.
08:06 Just arrived in the big smoke and nearly got ran over by a bus, what a welcome.
We were so early we decided to walk all the way from Kings Cross to Westminster (it took over an hour).
Meanwhile on the 6am train…
Here’s a video compiled by Mark Husmann examining why a group of activists attending this event.
09:21 Just gave my business card to the one and only Owen Jones. I wished him luck on his speech and told him how I used ‘Chavs’ in my university dissertation. He had half a sandwich in his mouth at the time but he did seem pleased.
09:37 Got a decent seat, ready and waiting for the morning plenary.
10:00 Opening Plenary: Here are some selected speeches from the opening plenary.
Independent columnist & all round legend, Owen Jones:
Comedian & broadcaster, Mark Steele:
Birmingham poet laureate, Stephen Morrison Burke:
11:00 Tactics for the anti austerity movement:
In this session several speakers provided their experiences of various types of action you could attempt to oppose the cuts. Industrial action was high on the agenda but I was more intrigued by the use of direct action and legal means to effect and challenge the workings of government, lead by UK Uncut.
Here are two clips featuring firstly Danni Paffard of No Dash For Gas & UK Uncut, followed by Human Rights solicitor Rosa Curling:
12:15 Scran (or in southern speak, lunch) we went to McDonald’s in the old county hall across Westminster bridge, which turned out to be hellish at best. It took so long to get there, wait in the que, order, find a seat, eat and get back that we missed much of the next session. Given the choice I would never live in London, too many people (except if anyone offers me a job down there).
So we decided to sit outside the hall near some Anonymous delegates with their masks off (shock) while successive nut-jobs shouted at passing people through a megaphone. By this time I was flagging badly and my phone battery was running low.
2:15 The next step: Creating local peoples assemblies.
This session was a tad chaotic, starting with everyone having to congregate into their separate regions and cities located in various parts of the main hall. Particular highlights of this confusion was myself and Joan Hewitt singing ‘The Blaydon Races’ in order to attract delegates to our region and the ongoing territorial disputes between ourselves, Scotland and the South East. Here are a few pics courtesy of Mark Husmann.
Following this we heard from delegates representing their respective areas; it was interesting to hear what other local Peoples Assemblies has done so far.
We were then asked to commence meetings and chat amongst ourselves to form regional Peoples Assemblies. As we had already held several meetings and have an established core of around 20 peoples in the North East, we could have just not bothered with the train fare and done this back at the Bar Loco in the Toon.
Other unsavory scenes included session chair Sam Fairbairn announcing us as Newcaaaaarrrrsul & the North East. Where is the R Sam, where? Other groups had whiteboards while we had a piece of paper, was this favoritism or did they provide their own? We will never know.
We found a space and started the meeting, the action points of which can be seen here.
15:45 Closing Plenary:
The final session of the the day saw several enthusiastic speeches and a standing ovation for Tony Benn. I have selected a couple below:
Former Labour MP & president of the Stop The War Coalition, Tony Benn
Stand up comedian and actress, Francesca Martinez
5:00 Got the tube back from Westminster (which was horrendous), by then I was in a strange state in which I couldn’t go to sleep even if I tried. Once at Kings Cross I bought a sausage roll from Smith’s and was instantly singled out as being northern (people were walking past saying ‘look over their, that fat lads got some form of crudely put together processed meat with a sort of bread around it, no one ever buys them around here’).
After spending half an hour searching for a bin (seriously there was no bin in the whole station), I spent the train ride back drifting in & out of consciousness while an upper middle class mother and small child ate marksies salad and prunes and talked about the National Transport Museum, there were no open windows to throw myself out of at this point. I awoke at 11am the next morning wondering if any of that had actual happened…
A long day, a lot of questions raised. And some of these will hopefully be answered at the catch up meeting on June 2nd; I will be speaking at this event (I’ve got a slideshow and everything) so come along. To attend and for more info: Newcastle report-back from People’s Assembly
Thanks for reading