‘This is a call to all those millions of people in Britain who face an impoverished and uncertain year as their wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision come under renewed attack by the government. With some 80% of austerity measures still to come, and with the government lengthening the time they expect cuts to last, we are calling a People’s Assembly Against Austerity to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice. We aim to develop a strategy for resistance to mobilise millions of people against the Con-Dem government.’
Tucked away in the recession section, it is likely to have been missed by many, but in February of this year, The Peoples Assembly was launched with these words in a letter to the Guardian. It is endorsed by various trade union movements like the RMT and Unite, politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas and The Independent columnist Owen Jones. It is a concerted effort to respond to the programme and politics of austerity. Britain is in a crisis that is ‘generally agreed was caused by the failures, the greed and recklessness of a clique we call, for short ‘the bankers.’ Yet the people paying for it are ordinary people and their families. What has been just as appalling as this government’s socially destructive and economically illiterate austerity programme, as Caroline Lucas puts it, is the way that they have tried to demonise large sections of society to justify their policies. Few have escaped their wrath, be they the unemployed, students, the elderly, the disabled and the stay at home mums. Added to this is the wholesale re-wiring of our institutions, schools, colleges and universities, the NHS and the welfare state.
There is definitely no shortage of anger, frustration and bitter resentment by ordinary people up and down the country, austerity ironically has seen the ‘big society’ in action, albeit in opposition to its advocate’s policies. They include the Lewisham hospital campaigners battling to save the hospitals A&E and maternity departments, those campaigning against the closure of heart surgery centers for children, the anti-bedroom tax campaigners and the students fighting against the abolition of the EMA and rising student costs. Equally, ‘there can hardly have been a time when so many people disgusted by their government, have been at such a loss as to what we can do about it.’ The problem is that there are very few people who are working in the corridors power who are willing, or even able to, translate the people’s anger. Labour has in large part failed to follow its ‘one nation’ vision with real and hard policies to counter the coalition’s austerity package. For this reason many people are losing patience with a party they would have previously gravitated towards. Known protest parties such as The Respect Party have also found themselves out of their depth having campaigned for so long on foreign policy issues that the party has proved unable to speak the language of anti-austerity. Added to this is the fragmented nature of those opposed to austerity, in large part because people are campaigning on local issues. What the People’s Assembly aims to do is to bring together passionate, well organised but fragmented voices under one umbrella.
What this is not is merely the reactionary ramblings of the traditional left; those lending their support include BME groups as well as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain. The Iraq war mobilised Muslims in matters of foreign policy, it should follow that the politics of austerity should awaken us to our duty in domestic politics. This is an opportunity for Muslims to fully participate in the debate, not only because austerity affects all of us (the rich and privileged aside) but also to prove that our morality calls us to ‘get involved in our local communities to show our fellow citizens that we care not just about events in Palestine and Pakistan, but Portsmouth and Paisley too.’
 http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/peoples-assembly-right-thats-enough-now-what-are-we-going-to-do-about-it-8499928.html[3 http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/peoples-assembly-right-thats-enough-now-what-are-we-going-to-do-about-it-8499928.html