Anti-Labour party protest at Nottingham May DayTagged as: alan_meale cuts disability labour mayday tuc work
Published by group: Notts Indymedia
Nottingham’s May Day events were the scene of controversy after protesters prevented Sir Alan Meale, the Labour MP for Mansfield, from speaking. Meale’s invitation to speak at the Notts Trades Union Council organised rally had already sparked condemnation in the run up to the day concerning his alleged support for “anti-working class” politics and his expenses claims. Protesters used whistles, heckles and placards to prevent Meale from speaking. Estimates of the numbers ranged from 200-500 trade unionists, socialists and anarchists. They marched from the Forest to the Congregational Hall for the rally. The day was also marked by demonstrations against workfare.
On the newswire: Nottingham May Day – one anarchist’s perspective | Troops on streets for Nottingham May Day | Alan Meale should not speak on May Day Pictures: 1 Mayday March & Event | 2 Mayday Speeches & Event | 3 Mayday Events, Anti-Labour Protest | 4 Mayday Workfare Protests
May Day was organised differently this year, following the decision by the May Day organising committee not to organise the usual outdoor rally. This decision was forced by increasing pressure from the City Council in the form of bureaucratic demands on the volunteer committee. In their absence, this year the Notts Trades Union Council organised a march and rally, to feature Mark Serwotka (General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union) and Alan Meale MP.
This decision sparked controversy and resulted in an open letter written to the Trades Council by two anarchist groups, asking them to withdraw their invitation to Meale. The Labour party’s support for neoliberal capitalism and anti-trade union laws, as well as Meale’s own voting record in favour of the war on Iraq, in favour of anti-terror legislation and ID cards and in favour of a tougher asylum system were all cited as reasons not to give him a platform. The authors of the letter also pointed to Meale’s MPs expenses claims of £13,000 for gardening and £7,000 for redecorating his home.
On the day itself, hundreds of people gathered at the Forest Recreation Ground, to march into the city centre. The march was led by trade union leaders and Meale who carried the Notts Trades Council banner.
The rally featured nine speakers in total including representatives of the CWU, Unison, Aslef, PCS, UCAT, the NUT and Notts Uncut. Alan Meale attempted to speak twice but was met both times with heckling, whistling and shouts from sections of the crowd and a silent protest with anti-Labour placards in front of the podium. The rally closed amidst angry scenes between the protesters and Trades Union officials.
Following the rally, Autonomous Nottingham held a demonstration against companies using workfare on Lister Gate. Topman, Holland & Barrett and Poundland were targeted by pickets and hundreds of leaflets were given out to Saturday shoppers.