David Cameron graced Barnsley with his presence on Saturday. OK, it wasn’t the real David Cameron, who probably wouldn’t be seen within miles of a town like Barnsley. However, the boos that just a protester in a mask attracted gave a clue to the kind of reception that the real Cameron would attract, if he ever dared to set foot in the town that his beloved predecessor Margaret Thatcher tore the heart from.
It is fair to say that Barnsley has suffered disproportionately from Tory cuts over the last thirty years. Pit closures hang like a pall over the town and now that Barnsley’s current biggest employer, the public services sector is facing further cuts, the future doesn’t look like it is going to get brighter any time soon.
The protest, organised by TUSC, drew together people from a range of groups. The South Yorkshire Freedom Riders (a group formed to campaign for the reinstatement of free public transport for pensioners) were there, as were the Barnsley Green Party, campaigners to save their local Sure Start – Worsbrough Common Rising Stars (sign the petition here), the Socialist Workers Party, NHS employees and a range of trade unions.
Although Saturday’s protest was modest in numbers, it points to the way ahead. We need solidarity across a range of groups if we are to resist cuts to our vital services and build more cohesive, compassionate communities. Movements grow from the ground up. We can’t rely on Westminster to make the changes that we want to see for us.