Some commented numbers were slightly down on the year previous when the RMT threw their weight behind the Mayday march after Bob Crows death. On the way to the rallying point people would have come across an SWP banner emblazoned with “Hands off Tower Hamlets”. They’re consistent, if nothing else, we should give them that.
Starting off at Clerkenwell Green, you were overwhelmed by the 57 varieties of Stalinism both overseas and domestic. When one looks overseas, you have serious militancy being shown on Mayday; there is a worry that the British equivalent is being turned into a historical re-enactment society being led by the bureaucratic trade union wing of the labour movement.
There were smatterings of union banners and housing campaigns, but alongside that you had ample banners with Stalin and even on one occasion Soviet-era style military formation marching with flags. Agh, working class regimentation, just what we need! But anarchists weren’t about to be undone with the pointless A to B marches and a half empty Trafalgar Square.
At 4pm there was an initiation to briefly occupy Tower Bridge to highlight the lack of social housing and the continuing gentrification/social cleansing of London. Recent reports suggest fifty thousand have been pushed out of London because of the increased cost of living.
A large contingent of activists were able to take the bridge stopping peak-time traffic accompanied by flares and then impromptu like snake around to London Bridge with a large police escort before scattering to the four winds at the other end of London Bridge.
After a brief restbite from the occupation of the bridge, the Mayday evenings, happenings, were put together by Class War under the auspices of their widely touted ‘Fuck Parade’. In Germany, apparently ‘Fuck Parade’ is a counter-cultural festival with anti-gentrification flushes to allow city dwellers to express a sense of community in places where they’re being squeezed out. Starting off near Aldgate East a large crowd of several hundred revellers started off with a make-shift sound system before spilling out into the road. There was concern that the police would confiscate the sound-system, but they must have thought better than taking on the crowd.
From Aldgate East the crowd took the long almost sporadic journey to Soho Square, avoiding the various ambushes of the entourage of police who followed them, taking in the capitals sights while avoiding mass arrests. The police were of course on hand to protect various assets from protests along the way including Southwark Council offices and oddly a pub full of what, I assume, were bankers.
The entourage encountered a lot of questions on its way around. A major criticism is that more could have been done to explain to all and sundry with either literature or banners what the full purpose of the march was, but sufficient people showed an interest and conversations were had. And some people did join us on route.
After a trek and half the make shift sound system and followers ended up a convergence hub just off Soho Square, put together by the Squatters Homeless Autonomous (SHA) crew to highlight the 74,000 empty properties in London. No doubt the powers that be will prioritise their removal, above any of the progressive demands being put forward on social housing.
All in all the day was a militant display for Mayday. With a bit of forward thinking we can rescue the whole sordid affair from the dustbin of history where some would happy it was confined.
Remember the dead, fight for the living!