Chants echoed across Manchester on Sunday as people took to the streets to protest at the Tory party conference.
The protest, organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, attracted around 5,000 people including anti-racist, pro-Palestinian and trade union organisations.
People held banners such as “Nurses not nukes”.
Hannah is an activist with Drive2Survive, a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) campaign set up to stop the Tories’ repressive Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.
She told Socialist Worker, “I’ve been a Traveller my whole life, and I’ve suffered prejudice from many directions.
“When studying to become a mental health nurse, I was living on the roadside. If this PCSC bill had already passed, I wouldn’t have been able to return home and my husband and I would be arrested.”
She decided to take her fight directly to the Tories, as “they target us for our free thinking”.
“We live an alternative lifestyle that doesn’t fit their ideology,” she added. “They want to pick us off, then move onto others.”
Celia is an NHS activist. She told Socialist Worker, “If we don’t act soon we won’t have an NHS.”
She believes that the privatisation of previously publicly owned services opened the door for attacks on our NHS.
“The Tories want to hand NHS contracts to their friends. They want to mirror the US’ healthcare system,” she added.
“To save our NHS we need to get rid of the Tories.”
The protest marched from Whitworth Park to Castlefield Basin, where speakers addressed the crowd.
Labour MP Richard Burgon told the crowd, “It’s fantastic to see thousands of people from different backgrounds marching through Manchester, united against the rotten Tories and united in the fight for a better society.
“The Tories have made the working class pay the price for a crisis they didn’t cause.
“They want to give working class communities a kicking after the pandemic. They’re cutting Universal Credit, increasing National Insurance, turning our NHS into an American insurance-based system.
“But we won’t let that happen, we will campaign on the streets, in social movements and in parliament.
“And the Tories know there’s resistance. The PCSC bill is stopping your right to protest, and they’re introducing ID checks to stop working class people from voting.
“Whatever legislation they pass, we will continue to fight back.”
Mick is a political officer for the CWU union. He told Socialist Worker, “The Tories are content with contradicting themselves as long as they’re exploiting people.
“They don’t allow refugees into the country, and they keep exploiting workers that are here. They’re willing to exploit anyone.”
He added, “Protests like this are great, they show our opposition.”
Soph is a student in Manchester, protesting to highlight the prejudice trans and non-binary people face.
She told Socialist Worker, “So often the trans community is forgotten and violence against them has grown.
“We need more protests, but also more outreach to inform ordinary people about our fight and the attacks on their rights.”
The Tories, with an 80 seat majority and little resistance in parliament will continue to force through repressive measures, increase racism and target working class people.
Socialists must continue to build protests and movements that challenge Tory rule. The next major target is the protests around the Cop26 climate talks on Saturday 6 November.