Huge crowds join People’s Assembly march calling for general election now

Early-vote rally reflects public ‘anger and determination’, say organisers

Liam James
Saturday 05 November 2022 17:42 GMT
London protest: Jeremy Corbyn calls Rishi Sunak’s budget ‘tax giveaway for the super rich’

Thousands have taken to the streets of London to demand a general election now, along with greater support for ordinary people struggling with the cost of living crisis.

The “Britain is Broken” march on parliament was led by trade unions and community organisations, with speakers including Mick Lynch and Jeremy Corbyn. They were joined by climate protesters carrying Extinction Rebellion flags.

Organisers from the People’s Assembly campaign group said they wanted to “shut down London” to force ministers to listen to calls for a national poll, fairer pay settlements, new cost of living support measures and more.

Jeremy Corbyn joined the demonstration near parliament (Reuters)
Extinction Rebellion marchers taking part in the protest in London (PA)

“The government is in a deep crisis and the third prime minister in a matter of months has been decided by a tiny elite. We want working-class people to join us on this day to demonstrate how angry and determined we are, and fight the new wave of austerity the government is forcing on us,” said Ramona McCartney, the national organiser for the People’s Assembly.

More than 465,000 people have signed a petition set up by The Independent arguing that it is time for voters to decide who should govern the country as part of our Election Now campaign.

Speakers at Saturday’s protest included Mr Lynch, secretary general of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union, former Labour leader Mr Corbyn, his former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Laura Pidcock, national secretary of the People’s Assembly and former Labour MP.

RMT chief Mick Lynch on the march (PA)
A protester calling for home secretary Suella Braverman to resign (PA)

Mr Corbyn, warning against a return to austerity, told a crowd in Trafalgar Square: “We now have a new prime minister and a new chancellor. I don’t have high hopes for this Budget coming up.”

Ms Pidcock said: “This Tory government is now totally unaccountable, but outrage is not enough.

“We have to come together, as a movement, to organise on the streets and in our communities, and show that our voices will not be silenced and that we want fundamental changes to the way our country is run.

“What I suspect is that it will be another tax giveaway for the super-rich.”

A mother who brought her seven-year-old twin boys to the protest said she wanted a change in leadership to help her make ends meet.

Speaking in Trafalgar Square, Michelle Uden, 34, who cares for her husband, who has epilepsy, at their home in New Eltham, southeast London, told PA: “Enough is enough. If we don’t stand up and fight we’ll sit down and cry.

Protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square (PA)

“We want to get rid of Rishi Sunak, we want more funding for the NHS, we want that to stop being privatised.

“We want the Tories out – it’s the only way to get change.”

A poll for The Independent this week found that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of voters want an early election. Focus groups have also seen a surge in the desire for a fresh national vote from both Tory and Labour voters in recent weeks.

Ed Dorrell, a director at the Public First research and strategy group, said the demand for an election had come up “a lot more” in its recent focus groups. “There’s a general sense that the Tory government has run out of steam, a general sense that we need to start again,” he said.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have stepped up general election planning since Liz Truss was forced to resign, according to party sources.

March for general election passes parliament (PA)
The Tories are on their third prime minister since the 2019 election (PA)

More than 500 people have signed up to lobby MPs on the need for a vote at meetings in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of a TUC-led “general election now” rally. Hundreds more are expected to join a People Assembly’s march for an election on 5 November.

The Independent petition calling for a general election

It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason, The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here.

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