UK Campaigners Take Inspiration From Greek Vote
Marina Prentoulis will address protesters on Wednesday. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA
Buoyed by the no vote in the Greek referendum, anti-austerity campaigners across Britain are to stage “Oxi to Osborne” protests on Wednesday against cuts the UK chancellor is expected to announce in his budget.
Organisers from the People’s Assembly group said interest in about 40 planned protests had soared since Sunday’s overwhelming no vote to austerity in Greece.
The UK protests include a mass “die-in” outside parliament to protest at the impact of welfare cuts. Speakers are expected to include Marina Prentoulis, a British-based Greek academic and member of the radical Greek governing party Syriza, and Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn, who welcomed the Greek vote.
Prentoulis, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of East Anglia, told the Guardian: “The Greek referendum has shown that the politics of fear are coming to an end. Across Europe, the up-to-now dominant narrative of austerity as the only solution to the crisis is being challenged. Europe has to go back to its founding principles: democracy, equality and social justice.”
George Osborne has signalled he plans sweeping cuts to welfare in the budget, including capping benefits at £20,000 a year outside London and making significant savings from the tax credit system.
As well as the budget, the protests also coincide with a number of planned strikes by public sector workers in the capital, including at the National Gallery, on the London underground and by employees of Barnet and Bromley councils.
Ramona McCartney, spokeswoman for the People’s Assembly, said: “We will all come together at this protest to say ‘end austerity now’. We are going to use the slogan ‘Oxi to Osborne’ – that will be the placard of choice tomorrow.”
She added: “We have had a lot of interest since the no vote; our phones have been off the hook.”
She predicted that thousands of people would attend the rally outside parliament, but said it would not be as large as last month’s anti-austerity demonstrations.
Protesters will also urge the government to publish figures showing how many people have died after having their benefits cut. The welfare secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, initially denied such figures existed, but David Cameron has since promised to release the statistics.