‘Another Britain is possible’: Activists to protest Tory austerity, Human Rights Act repeal

Unemployed youths hold a banner before the start of a protest march organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), on the embankment, in central London (Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett)
As concern mounts over the Tories’ austerity agenda and plans to dismantle the Human Rights Act, a series of protests will take place in London this week to oppose the Queen’s Speech.

Scheduled for Wednesday, the ceremonial address is considered an opportunity for the incoming government to outline its agenda for the parliament ahead.

As large swathes of Britain’s electorate call for progressive fiscal and environmental policies, critics warn such policy changes won’t happen under a majority Tory government.

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Observers predict a continuation of staid, pro-establishment policies that benefit banks, big business and Britain’s elite.

As Queen Elizabeth delivers Wednesday’s ceremonial speech, campaigners will assemble in Trafalgar Square to highlight what they say is an ongoing assault on the welfare state.

The protest has been organized by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and is expected to draw protesters in their thousands. It will be attended by social justice and human rights campaigners from across Britain.

Campaigners attending the demonstration warn of the Conservatives’ plans to “smash the welfare state by £12 billion, privatize the NHS, raise tuition fees, decimate local services, make strike action illegal, scapegoat migrants, decimate local services, [and] worsen the housing crisis.”

They say the only buffer against this reality is the British themselves.

Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech was penned by Tory ministers following the Conservative Party’s electoral triumph on May 7.

Issues set to surface in the address are a Bill to introduce a permanent tax-free minimum wage, a fresh Enterprise Bill predicted to benefit small businesses, and a new law to create three million extra apprenticeships in Britain.

Other planned changes expected to surface are child care entitlements for working parents, Britain’s planned EU referendum in 2017, the Tories’ controversial human rights reforms and more.

Despite these planned policy changes, critics warn the Queen’s Speech will be characterized by a series of glaring omissions.

In particular, progressive policies to deal with the climate crisis, policies to tackle the rise of social cleansing and gentrification, and measures to clamp down on precarious work aren’t expected to feature in the address.

Groups demanding a grassroots response to the Tories’ social and fiscal conservatism include the People’s Assembly against Austerity and UK Uncut among others. They have planned a number of further protests in London and across the country in the coming days.